Pupils find running a firm child's play in Young Enterprise competition
YOUNG entrepreneurs showed off their business flair at the regional finals of a national competition.
Twelve pupil-run companies from Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire went head-to-head for the title of Company of the Year in front of a panel of judges in the Young Enterprise competition at the Alton Towers Hotel.
The evening was the culmination of their year developing a business and selling their own products, including personalised hoodies, jars of sweets and potted herbs.
Teams representing Wolstanton High School, Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy, Newcastle-under-Lyme School, Westwood College, The Cheadle Academy and Haywood Engineering College took part.
The winners were One Green Bottle, from Wolstanton High School, who made clocks from recycled Titanic brewery bottles.
Team member Rob Jones, aged 16, said: "I've been a jack of all trades, but my most important role has been to dress up as a beer bottle to market the company.
"I've had a great reaction from the public at the trade fair. It helped create a bit of a buzz and get people talking about the product.
"Our team strength has been good communication, because we're all good friends."
They will now represent North Staffordshire at the Young Enterprise County Finals at Staffordshire University on May 10.
Young Enterprise's North Staffordshire Area Board Chairman, Richard Swancott, said: "Studying at university is becoming even more expensive and jobs are harder to come by, so it's important they consider starting their own business as a real alternative.
"Young Enterprise gives them the opportunity to see what's involved, and how rewarding it can be."
Team Envy created Stoke City wristbands and sold them at £2 each to schoolmates and at the Potteries Shopping Centre.
The group of 18, from Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy in Blurton, will also sell their products when Stoke play Arsenal on Saturday.
Their IT teacher, Matt Smart, said: "They are all in year 11 so juggling their time has been the main issue, but they managed to fit the young enterprise work around their exams.
"The girls have excelled in the creative side of the project, and the boys have been especially confident approaching the public and talking about the product.
"They are all so passionate about the company, and the project has taught them a lot of new skills.
"They carried out market research and they've worked hard on the finances and adapting their ideas."
Each team had to raise the start up costs through fundraising events and by selling shares.
They then elected a board of directors, researched, sourced their materials and launched the products.
The awards ceremony involved five members of each team giving a five minute presentation.
"The judges also took into consideration their performances at a trade fair and their company reports.
One of Newcastle-under-Lyme School's teams focused on raising the profile of the area.
Abigail Wilkin, aged 17, is vice managing director of the company, Made In Stoke.
She said: "We made T-shirts using images of rundown buildings and iconic Stoke pictures.
"There are a lot of overlooked features in this city and everyone in the team took photos of what Stoke means to them.
"Then we selected our five favourites and softened the edges of the images to make the buildings look their best."
The company made 40 T-shirts with images of Royal Doulton, and priced them at £7 each.
They were sold to family and school friends and, so far, the group has made a £163 profit.
If the winners are successful at the county heats in May, they will go on to the West Midlands leg of the competition in June, from where a team will be selected for the final at The Savoy in London in July.