Young entrepreneurs from Dunoon Grammar School will represent Argyll and Bute in the Scottish final of this year’s Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) Awards.
The Dunoon pupils battled it out against their fellow finalists from Lochgilphead High School to win a coveted place in the final.
The awards are based on the work the S5 and S6 pupils have undertaken over the last 12 months as part of the YES Company Programme – a scheme which sees the youngsters setting up and running their own company.
The area final was sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and took place at the Loch Fyne Hotel in Inveraray. The winning team, Up Town Junk, was formed by 12 students from Dunoon Grammar School and produced upcycled products from a range of materials. LittleMugCo, run by five students from Lochgilphead High School, created and hand painted mugs with a unique design.
Presenting the prizes, Argyll and Bute Council’s Deputy Policy Lead for Economic Development and Infrastructure, Councillor Bobby Good said: “The Company Programme is a wonderful way for young people to develop a wide range of skills and receive an invaluable entrepreneurial experience, supported by local business volunteers and teachers.
“These students have done exceptionally well to produce high quality, successful businesses. I believe that the young people who have taken part in these awards have a very successful future ahead of them and I would like to wish them every success.”
The judges faced with the difficult task of picking one winner were Donald Melville, Business Adviser with Business Gateway and Lynn Shaw, Assistant Manager, Bank of Scotland.
Mr Melville said: “I’ve been a judge at this competition for more than 10 years and this year has to be the closest competition I’ve known. Both teams had clearly worked very hard across the year, overcome various obstacles and learnt a huge amount from taking part. It made our judges’ job very difficult but Up Town Junk just had the edge and we wish them every success at the Scottish Final”.
In addition to the Overall Company of the Year Award, Up Town Junk also won the Best Report Award, whilst the LittleMugCo won both the Best Trade Stand and Best Presentation Awards.
Up Town Junk will now go forward to represent Argyll and Bute at the Scottish Finals in Hampden Park in June.
“We chose to focus our product range around upcycling as we believed this was an on-trend and sustainable product line that would allow us to create unique and personalised products,” explained the team members in their winning Company Report.
“We initially focussed on upcycling wooden products by burning intricate designs on them to add value; we then decided to expand our product range and created outdoor personalised signs made from slates, plus Christmas coasters and bowls made from old vinyl records.”
Through the use of different selling channels, the pupils managed to successfully make a profit by the end of the year. They also set up social media accounts, which allowed them to have quick and easy contact with a large audience of potential customers at low cost. The team generated sales of almost £700, with a net profit of £370.
Head Teacher at Dunoon Grammar, David Mitchell said: “I am absolutely delighted with the performance of the Young Enterprise group. They deserved to be the best overall company. I would like to thank Mr Stoddart and Mr Spark for their support of the pupils.”
Kaitlyn Smith, Operations Director for Up Town Funk, said: “We are over the moon with what our business has achieved. We hope to continue our success at the national final and further develop the many skills we have learned throughout the process.”
Jane Macleod, Chair of Developing Young Workforce and YES local team member, added: “Young Enterprise Scotland’s Company Programme is an excellent opportunity for fifth and sixth year students. Employers delight in receiving a CV which confirms the applicant has participated in the Enterprise Programme.
“The Programme ensures that young people learn about team work, cooperation, profit and loss, success and failure and various interpersonal skills. This year we had two excellent companies in the form of Up Town Junk and Little Mug Co and I am surprised that the two judges were able to choose between such excellent enterprises.”
The local YES board is keen to encourage more schools to participate and can link teachers up with volunteer business advisers to support the teams.
For more information visit http://yes.org.uk