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How I’m Keeping My Students Motivated & On Track For County Finals

-by Pierce Dargan, Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland, Co. Kerry

My name is Pierce Dargan. I am the Student Enterprise Co-ordinator in Presentation Secondary School in Castleisland, Co. Kerry. This is my sixth year in Presentation and my sixth year involved in the Student Enterprise Programme.

Every year we run the Student Enterprise Programme with all First Year’s, and I can proudly say that every student in our school now, has engaged in the Student Enterprise Programme for at least 4 months, when they were in First Year. Five out of the last six years we have entered the Kerry County Final in both the Junior and Intermediate Categories.

Over the six years our school has claimed 21 County and 6 National Titles.

These 6 National Titles have come in the past three years, with two titles in each year:

  • 1st Place – Junior Category 2018 – Complete Cáman
  • IP Award – Junior Category 2018 – Complete Cáman
  • 1st Place – Intermediate Category 2019 – Críos Mhadra
  • IP Award – Junior Category 2019 – Eary Fix
  • 2nd Place – Intermediate Category 2020 – Sála Síos
  • 3rd Place – Junior Category 2020 – Cast Aways

This huge success at County and National levels is down to the dedication and enthusiasm of our students and the support from our school, our students’ families, and the Kerry Local Enterprise Office. The key to our success is making the programme as enjoyable and as fun as possible and the rest looks after itself. I always ensure our students pick ideas they are passionate about, because as I always tell our girls, “If you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t feel like work”.

Remote teaching and learning is a challenge for all students, especially those students working as part of teams and projects. The Student Enterprise Programme is like no other this year – with all aspects going virtual.

The following are my thoughts, approaches and tips for teachers to help their students to stay motivated and to aim for success at upcoming County Finals. Despite the restrictions, success can still be achieved from their homes over the coming weeks.

Ways to Keep Students Motivated:

The key to keeping my student enterprise students motivated is to keep in daily contact or at least every second day. I know this might seem like a lot, but I see most of my enterprise students in class and I just ask them to stay online for a few minutes at the end of a live class or if not, I just drop them a quick message on the ‘Enterprise Teams’ I have setup on our online school platform, Microsoft Teams.

Best Approaches:

Setting weekly goals for each group is essential, whether it is to post on social media, carry out a survey on Microsoft Forms or to get as many photos of their product/service as they can, within a 5km radius of course.

Top 3 Useful Tools & Tips:

With no face-to-face contact and with County Finals looming, we must get our students prepped as best we can. I think now more than ever we have the digital tools to keep our students engaged and moving forward.

  1. Firstly, use your online school platform to stay connected with your students. Set up a dedicated enterprise team with each group for regular contact and updates.
  2. Secondly, social media platforms are the key to getting their ideas out there. Set your enterprise teams targets to send out posts regularly. If they have no new information, get them to tell the world about their team, about their story and where their idea came from.
  3. Thirdly, encourage students to use tools like Microsoft Forms or Survey Monkey to get their field research done. Field and desk research are essential for validating students’ product choice or service and is key to impressing the judges at County and National Finals. This can easily be completed from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Take Away Message:

With an extension to the level 5 lockdown for another few weeks, County Finals will approach before we head back to school, but remember all schools and all enterprise students are in the same boat. Each year approximately 29,000 students take part in the Student Enterprise Programme and like the lotto, someone must win and why can’t it be your students???

Remind your students constantly to be positive, be prepared and remember no one knows their product or service better than them, so they should be confident and competent in their ability to wow the judges.

Best of luck to all in the upcoming County Finals!!!


What SEP has taught us

By Blog, Media

Our Experience of Taking Part in The Student Enterprise Programme

– by 2 Peas In A Pod


2020 is a year that many want to forget!!!

For some, it brought lonliness and boredom, but for us, thanks to taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme, it brought to life our business 2 Peas in a Pod.

Where our business idea came from?

We became inspired with our business idea just a few weeks into lock down. We were playing a game with our family, sent to us from German friends, where we had to match images from Cologne. It was then that the idea came to us to create our own fun-filled family memory game based on Wexford images. We did some research online and we didn’t see any similar games.

In September, as 1st year students in St Mary’s, New Ross, we learned about the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP). So we decided to turn our idea from lockdown into a product.

Our business teacher and lots of our friends and family thought it would be a great idea. So we decided to go for it. We set up the business and named it 2 Peas in a Pod because we are twins and because the aim of our game is to match 2 identical images of Wexford and get 2 Peas in a Pod. We decided to add a quiz to to our product, for a bit of extra excitement.

So many lessons learned along the way!

 Overall, we are thrilled we took a risk and set up our student enterprise as we got the chance to make a fantastic product. We developed loads of skills throughout the journey. We have learned so many lessons and skills in entrepreneurship since last September. Here’s some of the most important ones that we’ve learned:

 Intellectual Property (IP):

  • While on our entrepreneurial journey, we learned many great lessons and skills. Our first task was to contact photographers from Wexford to ask them to donate pictures. This was our first challenge as we did not know the photographers and they did not know us and so they really had to trust we were putting their images to good use.
  • This was when we learned about Intellectual Property as we had to name each photographer on their image as it was their work. We loved picking out the pictures as they were really good quality and showed our county in a beautiful way.

Dealing with suppliers:

  • Another challenge was getting the product printed. We researched printing prices and visited some printers but this was more difficult due to Covid. We decided to go with local printer Emco as we could walk to them after school and John was really great to give us advice.

Learning about using different forms of media:

  • We made a promotional video using iMovie which we had never used before and we did an interview with the New Ross Standard.
  • We also set up Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts for our business with our parents’ permission.
  • We learned about using Pay Pal for making payments also.

 Learning how to sell & promote:

  • Some of our sales were made in school to our friends and teachers and in our primary school too.
  • It was harder to sell our game in person due to Covid and lack of Christmas markets but with more people at home, online sales were easier, we think.
  • We got great selling tips on the SEP webinars every Monday such as the importance of  “being passionate” when making sales and also to “listen to the customer” so we really tried that.
  • We’ve now sold about 150 products by keeping it promoted. We have gotten some lovely comments from our followers and customers. We tagged well known people like Kevin Dundon, Tadgh Furlong, Eoin Murchan and Walter Walsh to endorse or ‘like’ our product too which gave us some great publicity. RTE Nationwide follows us too.
  • We have also asked some businesses to sell our product for us like Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody House Hotel.

Finding Inspiration:

  • We find Derval O’Rourke, the new Female Ambassador for the SEP very inspiring. She is an outstanding athlete and she’s our favourite coach on Ireland’s Fittest Family!!! We didn’t know that she is also a super entrepreneur in the area of health and fitness so she really has lots of good advice to give.

Managing Our Time & Money:

  • Keeping track of our costs and finances was important too so we really had to shop around for the best value packaging options.
  • We also had to manage our time well especially during November and early December when we had to meet all our orders, get them posted in time for Christmas and prepare for our school exams in first year too.
  • We are lucky that we worked well as a team that we could share our work load. We would advise others to make a list of tasks to do and divide them up between them and to have fun during the experience.

Keeping Motivated:

  • To keep motivated, we try to promote our product every few days on social media, so that people get to know about it and hopefully buy it.
  • We tell our followers about the benefits of our product, like it is fun, it is educational, it helps improve memory and it makes a great gift especially for people missing Wexford. Believing in ourselves and our product works to motivate us.

Although we are only 13, we’re getting to see what it is like to run a real life business for ourselves. We are really enjoying the experience …. and we love making money too!!!


Derval O’Rourke Is Our New SEP Ambassador!!!

By Blog, Media


Olympian and entrepreneur Derval O’Rourke announced as ambassador


Ireland’s largest student business programme has been launched by Damien English T.D., Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail.  The Local Enterprise Office’s Student Enterprise Programme held a virtual event to celebrate as it enters its 18th year, with over 220,000 students having taken part since it began in 2003.


The Final usually takes place in Croke Park, but as with the 2020 Final earlier this year, the event will take place again online on Friday 14th May 2021.  A new ambassador was also announced for the programme, Olympian and entrepreneur, Derval O’Rourke.  The world champion hurdler and three-time Olympian made the jump from the track to the world of business, setting up her own fitness, health and well-being site,, now with over 8,000 sign ups.


The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw over 29,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part in 2019 / 2020.


The students will compete across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior and judging takes place virtually via electronic submissions.  Each student enterprise is challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product.


The programme will also include two additional categories that students can enter.  These are the “Most Creative Business Idea” video competition for the Senior category and the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” category for the Junior and Intermediate categories.


Damien English, T.D., Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, said; “The Student Enterprise Programme has been one of the most successful initiatives in helping students foster a passion for entrepreneurship.  Many of the students that have taken part have gone on to set up their own fully fledged businesses, some before they have even left school.  Ireland has always had a proud tradition of entrepreneurship and hopefully these students will bring that passion with them as they figure out how they want to make an impact in the world.  While not everyone can take home the top prize, what the students learn in taking part will be invaluable to them in the years to come.”   


Derval O’Rourke, Olympian, Entrepreneur and Ambassador for the Student Enterprise Programme, said; “I have always loved the Student Enterprise Programme and if it was around in my time I would have been first to sign up.  Starting your own business is one of the toughest things you can do, and when you try to do it with no business knowledge whatsoever, then it’s ten times harder.  For these students to be learning these skills at this age, and understanding how a business should work, how to make sales, how to market it, they have transferable skills they can bring forward in life.  Even looking back at some of the recent winners and finalists you think ‘wow, what a great idea’, so I can’t wait to see what this year’s programme will bring.


Michael Nevin, chair of the Education Enterprise Committee of the Local Enterprise Offices, said; These are unprecedented times for our students and this year’s competition is giving them the opportunity to create businesses that can make an impact in the current real-world scenario.  We are encouraging students to come up with business ideas that are adapted to the existing enterprise challenges and that are sustainable in today’s economic climate.  With this in mind the programme has changed and even though the way it is being delivered (which is mainly online), is different, the students will still be able to work together in their school setting to develop their businesses.  This will be our most challenging year to date in the Student Enterprise Programme’s history, but it will be exciting to see what new world businesses our students bring to the table.”


Earlier this year, the 2019/2020 Student Enterprise Programme National Final winners in the Senior category were Handy Hose Holders from CBS Thurles in Tipperary for their practical milking parlour hose solution that has since been picked for national listing by Glanbia.  The Intermediate category was won by Aim It Board from Loreto College in Dublin City, while Sofatop from Ballybay Community College in Monaghan took the Junior category award.


Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 220,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.  The Student Enterprise Programme also has new range of online resources for 2020 / 2021 at, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.



Exploring Enterprise at Greenhills College in Dublin

By Blog

teachers senior resourcesOur school Greenhills College has had great success in The Student Enterprise Programme for many years. In the last number of years it has been run by two business teachers – Una McNamara and Maria Donoghue. The Enterprise Club has been run as an extra curricular activity during lunchtime and we also ran the club pre COVID on a Tuesday evening from 4pm to 5pm.

This enables students who have an interest in enterprise to further develop their business skills. We have had some great ideas through the years for both products and services alike. Enterprise has become an integral part of our school and we are very proud of the fact that our students have managed to get to the National Final in Croke Park on three different occasions.

We have had 1st place winners in both our Junior and Intermediate categories over the years. Our students are always very enthusiastic about their products from idea generation stage right through to product development. We encourage and nurture any ideas that our students have and this has led us to the success that we have had as a school in the Student Enterprise Programme.

As a result of taking part in the programme our students develop a self-belief and a realistic belief in their own abilities. They also develop key skills around being able to take their own initiative and in doing this being able to work on their resilience in terms of their attitude to failure. Being able to get back up and again with a new idea and further develop their entrepreneurial skills.

The Student Enterprise Programme has been instrumental in our school being able to embed enterprise as integral part of our school and has been fundamental in developing life skills for our students for their future lives.


by Maria Donoghue & Una McNamara, Enterprise Teachers at Greenhills College, Walkinstown, Dublin 

SEP Social Media Awards 2021

By Blog, Media

2020/21 SEP National Social Media Awards

The Student Enterprise Programme is delighted to announce that we will once again be awarding three prizes in the area of social media at the National SEP Final on Friday 16th May 2021.

The awards are open to all students nationwide taking part in the SEP 20/21, not just those who make the National Final.

Students will be judged on their performance on various social media platforms for their student enterprises over the course of the year – how well they interacted with their customers on social media, how creative they were with their social media campaigns and how they maximized social media for the betterment of their enterprises.

Award Categories:

  • Most Effective Social Media Campaign             €250
  • Most Creative Use of Social Media                     €250
  • Most Interactive Business on Social Media      €250

How to Enter:

To enter, simply complete the social media award entry form and return to the address provided on the form by 16th April 2021.

Please note: The social media awards are marked independently of the main marking scheme at the SEP National Final and therefore student enterprises that do not operate social media accounts for their business are not disadvantaged in any way as a result.

The Man In The Mirror!

By Blog, Media

The Man In The Mirror!

– a lookback by a former SEP winner on his journey to entrepreneurship

Hi. I’m Jack and I took part in the Student Enterprise Programme in 2019, winning the ‘Best Commercial Potential’ prize at the National Final with my company Mirr ( Well over a year later and I’m still working on Mirr and we are preparing to step into the world of manufacturing.

Mirr is a touch screen smart mirror. This was new technology and the business was driven on innovation, but through the process of bringing it from a cool piece of engineering to a product I had to make sure it was something people actually wanted. Not that I was just making something for me.

This distinction of who the innovation was for was perhaps the most valuable learning I gained from the experience; the value of feedback and testing in innovation.

All businesses are selling solutions to a problem -and whether you’re coming up with a solution to an unsolved problem, or offering an alternative to an existing solution, you’re still innovating. The easiest way to make sure you’re on the right track is to test your solution and take in feedback from your users. The best way to start this is to clearly outline the problem you aim to solve, and find people with the same issue. Present them your solution and take any and all feedback, making sure to keep notes and document it all.

Here are my top tips!

-I’d recommend inserting each feedback session into a spreadsheet, trying to quantify as much as you can. That way you can easily identify trends, problems and recommendations. The next stage is to use this feedback to make changes to your product, then rinse and repeat as frequently as necessary.

-I would encourage early on in the product development to test and innovate the product as frequently as possible.

-Don’t wait to add multiple changes at once, implement each change after a feedback session and then document and test it again. That way not only are you showing constant acceleration in innovation but if you make a change that negatively affects the solution it’s much easier to identify and you wont spend valuable time and effort developing a feature that may not work. It’s also a great way to keep implementation simple, innovation is rarely about the complexity of the input.

-If you plan to implement in the a barebones version of a feature you can then receive feedback on it and choose to only develop the useful aspects of it – simplifying the input but keeping the desired change in the output. This is in essence an off-shoot of the ‘Lean Development Method’ but simplified and generalised not just for software development. If you’ve further interest in the Lean Method, there’s a great guide by Roadmunk (

That’s all I’ve got – I wanna keep this simple and to the point. If anyone is taking part this year in the Student Enterprise Programme and would like any advice or just feedback on anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at MIRR. We can be found on Instagram or twitter @mirr_ire or feel free to email

Best of luck!