Dragons' Den meets The Apprentice

June 2017 saw the return of the highly successful UIV Link Programme. This unique programme has been devised by LEH in consultation with Tessa Webb, Chartered Marketer (MCIM) and Associate Lecturer at the University of the West of England.

For three days, the girls focussed on learning many new business skills. We kicked off with an inspirational talk and prototyping/problem-solving workshop from award-winning product designer Duncan Fitzsimmons. Duncan is the owner and director of 7TH - Design & Invention, responsible for designing the folding wheel. This was followed by a presentation skills workshop with the talented Mrs Oxborrow and Miss Torrent from the Drama Department.

DSC_00532The event gave the girls the opportunity to grow in confidence, get creative and learn how to work under pressure in a team. Tessa briefed our twelve groups on how to create a ‘do-able’ business and brand with £20k and then showed them how put together a business plan and a marketing campaign. On day two, she was joined by Dominique Packham, a highly successful professional from the field of marketing; Ms Seaborn from the Art Department; and Damian Smeaton, who will be joining our Design and Technology Department in September. The judges were genuinely impressed by the enthusiasm, ability and clarity of thinking. The teams came up with some highly original business ideas for both products and services, some of which had the potential to launch on a global scale.

The judges managed to select four finalists: Canines and Co designed Hydrahound, a bone-shaped rubber toy designed to store and release clean water for dogs; Brandit created a new clothing rental business for young people; Pathway produced an innovative app to connect young people to local adults in need of affordable babysitters, dog walkers and gardeners; and last but by no means least, the front-runners were Sole Purpose with their phone-charging trainers Power Step. After a nail-biting head-to head, Tessa announced Sole Purpose as the worthy winners, explaining ‘when we select our winners each year, we ask ourselves the question, could we walk out of here and start this business up?’ Sole Purpose solved the problem of dead mobile phones by inventing a charger which fits into trainers and charges as you move. They even took the initiative to ring Nike who expressed genuine interest. At the prize-giving, Tessa said how each year the standard gets higher and higher: ‘Over the last couple of days, you’ve learnt how to manage a budget, how to deliver a successful marketing campaign, and how to sell and present. I’m so impressed with the collaboration, enthusiasm, motivation and determination from each and every girl. You’ve all worked incredibly hard. You’re learning valuable skills for the workplace. So, continue to be innovative and, above all, believe in yourselves. Each and every one of you has the potential to go on and achieve great things.’

Written by Ms Peat - Head of Year (LIV)

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