Last Thursday was sadly the last Young Entrepreneurs Club after-school session at Kingsmead Academy with their talented and smart Year 9 students.
The Young Entrepreneurs Club is a new initiative started by Research Through Gaming, aimed at nurturing and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit in under 18’s in London schools, as some of you may have already read about in our kick-off blog here.
At RTG, we are extremely passionate about encouraging young people to see the many opportunities available to them in being entrepreneurs which we believe can also go a long way into helping the future UK economy.
We started the first ever club at Kingsmead Academy, which seemed like a great fit, given that it’s the school I went to myself, growing up in Enfield, North London. The school has special status for the arts, so with many students leaving to become budding actors, artists and more, it felt even more important to teach entrepreneurial skills to students at this particular school.
In just 6 after-school sessions across 6 weeks, the students had achieved so much and I was incredibly proud of all they had done. They had made and sold products (making over £112 in profit per team, might I add!) designed interesting new businesses and introduced new products and services, and pitched these in front of three ‘dragons’ (who were al local entrepreneurs).
The students all received certification in their last club session last week and not just taking part, but some of them received the special certifications for getting the best results on the evaluation forms for their Dragons Den style pitches. The ‘dragons’, (who were Asim Burney of Digital Age Research, Gemma Stokes of Podengo, and Paul McGhie of Poor Arthur Production film company and Leading Thought marketing company), all said how thoroughly impressed they were with the young entrepreneurs.
And not just impressed in the delivery of their pitch presentations, or the slides themselves, but even down to the amount of research they carried out in looking at competitors for their new products/services, and thinking about all the costs involved in starting a new business and the human resources they would need. We had social enterprises pitched to the Dragons, as well as sportswear accessories, useful software for schools, fashion apps, support services for young people, drone delivery services, and much more.
But what did our own research show about the club? The students and our schools’ club advocate, Mrs M. Richardson, all filled out evaluation forms, and I’m delighted to deliver these results below.
The school’s club advocate agreed that more students could benefit from joining the Y.E.C., (and Kingsmead would like to run another course next year!), and would recommend the club to other schools. The top 3 things that the schools’ club advocate found to be the most beneficial to students were,
- Encouraging them to speak in public,
- encouraging leadership skills as well as collaborative learning,
- and having opportunities to use their skills in a numbers of ways that is not always possible in the classroom.
The schools’ club advocate also agreed that more that 50% of the students:
- Showed improved time-management skills
- Showed higher levels than normal of resourcefulness
- Showed more initiative and forward-thinking
- Surprised her in their abilities overall
- Developed more confidence overall
- Developed more confidence in problem-solving
But what did the students think? We asked the young entrepreneurs what their top 3 moments were during the course, and the highest top 3 moments were:
- designing their cakes (which was done partially based on their own market research),
- the day of the cake bake sale (of whuch they were split into two teams and were swamped with customers!)
- Meeting/pitching to the 3 ‘dragons’.
All students said they would recommend the club to other students which was great to see, and used words like fun, interesting, inspiring, challenging, realistic, and enjoyable to describe the course.
Using the evaluation forms, we also wanted to know if the students had a better understanding now, compared to the beginning of the course, of what they now grasped about ‘entrepreneurship’. We were able to see that the overall understanding was perhaps deeper; from the initial answers we had at the beginning of the course of ‘someone who owns a business’, we were now getting the students saying things like “A person who takes risks to run a business” and “There is a lot of hard work to be an entrepreneur and it takes a lot of commitment to be successful”.
As always, there is room for improvement with any new thing. Many of the students said they would have liked the course to have been longer with more theory involved, which is absolutely something we at RTG can think about doing for the next course.
It’s great to know that in just 6 sessions, we were able to help make a difference to these students. As part of the course, we’ll be sure to catch up with the Young Entrepreneurs from the club in the future, and see how the skills they’d grown during the 6 weeks had added to their lives in the future!
After the club had ended, I’d received a lovely email from one of the students. It had really made my day :)… “Like I said 2 days ago, thank you very much for everything that you have done for me. I understand more of how to be an entrepreneur and what it takes to be one and the club was fun. During this experience I learned how to create something and present it, which is one of my weakest points, I am quite shy in person. So thank you. If there is another club like this I will probably put my name first on the list.”
As the course was naturally gamified, we saw all the students achieve more and more Entrepreneurial Badges on the achievement board, and some students achieved certain badges faster, but eventually we all saw the students gain their ‘Resilience’ badge, ‘Resourcefulness’ badge, ‘Initiative’ badge, ‘Fearlessness of Failure’ badge and more.
Now my own feedback: My husband and I were talking the other day, and he had asked me “what did you think of the club course? How do you think it went?”. As many of you know who have read the blogs about the Y.E.C. so far, I had personally facilitated the Young Entrepreneurs Club at Kingmead School and yes, doing so in and among all the things involved in running RTG, and our client projects made for a hectic time indeed! As I told my husband, yes it has been a busy time in preparing and running the course, as well as doing everything else. Yes, it has been a completely new experience and therefore, I’ve learned new things that were challenging to me in the beginning. But…in my career so far, and even having won awards and travelling the world, the experience of running the Young Entrepreneurs Club initiative is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. So it’s been decided; we’re definitely continuing with the Young Entrepreneurs Club at other schools!
From the success of the Young Entrepreneurs Club at Kingsmead Academy, and how much I’ve enjoyed it as well, Research Through Gaming now have the opportunity to run this initiative at a new school; the Enfield Grammar school in London, starting next week! Watch this space for more updates 🙂
A massive thanks to Kinsgmead Academy, the young entrepreneurs, and to the school’s club advocate Mrs M. Richardson and of course the wonderful ‘dragons’ for making this initiative so successful and providing me with such an enjoyable and fun experience!