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Creative Business Plans Impress Judges

Monday, 09 November 2015

Bolton School’s Year 12 pupils from both Divisions convened in the Boys’ Division Great Hall for the annual Joint Business Challenge Day. There was a buzz of excitement among the mixed teams as they assembled, their ideas ready to be fleshed out and turned into business plans.

After a brief introduction and some key advice from Mrs Sutcliffe, the teams made a start. They had just one day to take their business ideas forward from the concept stage. Each team had to create a working business plan, including financial information and projected profits, which could be presented in the style of Dragon’s Den before a panel of judges. The students appointed a Project Manager and various other job roles, including researcher, business planner, finance director, IT specialist, and more. As well as finalising the name for their business, the teams had to create a logo and images of their prototype product where applicable. They researched the costs of staff, premises, storage space, transport, and anything else they might need to make their business idea a success and put all of the information into a presentation, which was paired with their written business plan. In addition to this, the team had to think about what percentage of the start-up costs to ask for, and where they planned to find the rest of the funds, whether this would be from grants or from their own savings.

The students were joined by three mentors from the world of business: Stephanie Foster, a Partner in Rivington Associates and a former Bolton School parent; Rob Lord, a Partner at Cowgill Holloway; and Phil Warriner from BT. They offered the teams advice and guidance as they worked on their business plans throughout the day, and then acted as judges later in the day alongside Boys’ and Girls’ Division staff.

A wide variety of business propositions emerged over the course of the day, from physical products to services to apps, and really showed the students’ creative approach to the task they had been set.

The teams were split up in the afternoon to present their business plan in front of one of six judging panels. At the end of each presentation, students were put on the spot to answer the judges’ questions. The standard was very high and it was clear that all of the pupils had put a great deal of effort into thinking through their businesses.

At the end of the day, the Year 12 students gathered in the Girls’ Division Great Hall to hear the names of the six finalists going forward to compete for the KPMG Trophy. Before the announcement, Stephanie and Rob both spoke to pupils about how impressed they were by the quality of their work. They also noted that activities such as these genuinely do make a difference to employers and give students something extra to talk about during an interview, and so are very useful to pupils for the future.

Mrs Sutcliffe then announced the finalists: Electrocycle Dynamics, π Pi, Power Share, PINPOINT, The Contactless Key Company, and Vinceret Allergy are the teams going forward. They will present a refined version of their business plan to a Dragon’s Den style panel of judges in December to see whose proposition will take the KPMG Trophy.

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The teams assembled in the Boys

The teams assembled in the Boys' Division Great Hall

Stephanie Foster, one of the mentors for the day, disgusses a group

Stephanie Foster, one of the mentors for the day, disgusses a group's business plan during the preparation stage

The Contactless Key Company presenting their business plan

The Contactless Key Company presenting their business plan