10 emerging enterprises driven by over 50 Transition Year students from schools in Dublin and Kildare participated in the 2014-15 Leinster regional final of the Junior Achievement Company of the Year Competition on Tuesday, March 18th. An intense day of competition was hosted by Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) at their HQ on Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
The judging panel comprising Emma Ledden, LinkedIn; Louise Maguire, CAI, and Eain Jones, AOL was really impressed with the entrepreneurial flair and particularly the level of preparation invested by the students, their teachers and mentors to ensure they presented their enterprises in the best possible light. It was obvious that the teams had worked hard to take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial talent. The regional final is a real test of nerve as each team must participate in an interview with the judging panel and also make a public presentation in front of their fellow student entrepreneurs, the judges and other invited guests. Each of the young entrepreneurs rose to the challenge of having their business acumen tested by the panel of judges and represented their schools and families with great distinction.
The breadth of products and ideas being presented was indicative of the interests of the teams as well as their capacity to tap into niche markets with a view to scaling up using the potential of online sales and promotion. Some of the teams maximised the opportunity to create bespoke gifts and generate nifty solutions to issues like storing keys and hair accessories, while others used their creative talents to bring a diverse range of products to market, including programming online games, promoting healthy eating among younger students and providing waterproof, Bluetooth-enabled speakers for use in bathrooms and similar environments.
Each student enjoyed solid preparations for the challenge of competition as they had to complete the JA Company Programme with business volunteers from JA supporting organisations. The teams, which qualified for this year’s regional final benefitted from the support of their teachers and families, while also adhering to the advice of their mentors from PwC, DAA, Deloitte and Salesforce in perfecting their ideas and preparing for the final.
The judges had the difficult task of whittling down the teams to nominate two national finalists. ‘Bella Bristles’ Ardscoil na Trionóide, Athy and ‘Sláinte Kids’ St. Joseph of Cluny, Killiney secured a place in the national finals to be held in the DCU Ryan Academy in mid-May where they will showcase their ideas and compete against winners from the five other regional finals. In recognition of the excellence of their financial acumen, Dr. Louise Maguire presented ‘Canoodle’ from St. Dominic’s, Cabra with the Finance award sponsored by CAI.
Bella bristles, Ardscoil na Trionoide, Co. Kildare, secured a place in the nationals with their individually painted and personalised hair brushes. The company offers a ‘one of a kind’ feeling from the purchase of the product. The company has goodstable social media outreach as part of their advertising.
Slainte Kids, St. Joseph of Cluny, Co. Dublin, secured a placed in the nationals with their product that aims to combat childhood obesity. The product us essentially a pack consisiting of reward charts, exercice cards, recipe cards and an information booklet to help both parents and children to understand about healthy habits. The team was mentored by Kevin Maguire, PwC, to develop the idea and make it into a potential business.
Canoodle, St. Dominic’s College, Cabra, Dublin7, won the Financial Award supported by Chartered Accountants Ireland. The team secured this award due to their stable financials and their knowledge about this area. The company offers home made lip balms and lipsticks in different colours and flavours made out from non-harmful.