Not Long To Go Now!!!

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Not Long To Go Now!!!

With just over 2 weeks to go to the highlight of the Student Enterprise Programme calendar, all roads lead to Croke Park once again – albeit virtually!!!

The 19th Annual SEP Final takes place on Friday 14th May at 2.30pm.

Full details available in our April 2021 newsletter here

How I took the reins and grew a successful business at just 15 years old!

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How I took the reins and grew a successful business at just 15 years old!

My name is Anthony O’Gorman and I am a proud Student Enterprise Programme alumni!

I’d like to share with you my own business journey and what I’ve learned on my journey to being a teen entrepreneur.

My enterprise journey started in 2019 when I had a unique Christmas business idea – to hand-craft wooden reindeers.

I started by selling to my family and friends initially. Then I brought a sample into my school (Tullamore College) and I guess it just took off from there! I worked on the reindeers in my father’s workshop using his tools. Every evening I came home with 10 or 12 orders and ended up selling over 200 reindeers that first Christmas!.

My business teacher Ms. Griffin suggested that I enter the Student Enterprise Awards. I was delighted that I took her advice and I won the Offaly intermediate title and then went on to represent my county at the national final.

The competition was very strong at the National Final and even though I did not win, getting there was the greatest achievement of my life so far. I received a trophy and €350 which I reinvested into expanding my business.

Top 3 Lessons I Learned:

From taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme, I learned a lot about business and about how I could improve my business model. I was able to identify the key changes I needed to make going forward such as:

  • I was charging too little per product
  • I needed to hire people to help me, as I had too many orders to manage in a short space of time
  • I needed to start planning earlier

These three lessons would prove to be invaluable to me in 2020.

 

2020: Turning Covid-19 into an opportunity

Covid 19 took hold in March 2020 and I ended up with a lot of spare time, as the Junior Certificate was now cancelled. It was the perfect opportunity to grow my business. I realised that families were at home spending more time in their gardens and I decided to tap into this a bit more by creating handmade wooden garden accessories such as trains, wheelbarrows and planters.

2020 was a game changer for my business in so many ways:

-I developed a sales platform from my Facebook page Anthony’s Wooden Crafts

-I identified easier, less labour intensive ways to work . I invested in new tools and equipment – (no more hand sawing)

-I started planning much earlier in the year (September, as opposed to November the previous year)

I set myself a target of 1,000 reindeers and I began producing in October. When I went back to school after the Summer I worked in the evenings and weekends to build up stock. A local photographer took some photos for my Facebook page. My mother had come across the Shop in Ireland Facebook page and uploaded the famous picture. Little did I know where this would lead.

From there, RTE’s Philip Bromwell contacted me. My business was featured on the Six O’Clock News and the Late Late Toy Show – this is what dreams are made of! It was a crazy few weeks between radio interviews and my photo being across all social media sites and local newspapers.

 

It’s All About Your Support Network

My family was so supportive. Without their encouragement, it probably would never have grown. My dad was always there to pick up my materials, do deliveries and give advice. My mam is very handy with a paint brush and sowing flowers!

As I became overwhelmed with orders, family members came to help; as well as the mammies of my hurling team. My school teachers and school tutor were there at all times for support too. For that I am so grateful.

I ended up producing double my target. It was hard work and very challenging at times, but the positives far outweigh that.  One final special moment in this journey was donating 100 teddies to Temple Street Hospital; one for every child in hospital at Christmas. I wanted to give a little back and it made me realise how lucky I was to get this opportunity.

 

What’s next for Anthony’s Wooden Crafts?

I have my website almost completed now. So it will be more professional and easier for people to order my wooden crafts.  School is also important and although right now I am doing my best with home schooling, I would prefer to be in the classroom.

The experience of being an entrepreneur at such as young age has really improved my financial and communication skills. The biggest lesson I learned overall though is that if you really put your mind to it  anything is possible, and you will succeed and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

What SEP has taught us

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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!!!

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IRELAND’S LARGEST STUDENT ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME IS LAUNCHED

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, Derval.ie, 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 www.StudentEnterprise.ie, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.

 

Ends

SEP Social Media Awards 2021

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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!

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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 (www.mirr.tech). 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 (https://roadmunk.com/guides/lean-development/)

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 jack@mirr.tech

Best of luck!

Jack