Take a riskThis year 73 students signed up and received business mentoring in nine teams over a five week period.  Their teams were deliberately mixed with different nationalities, genders and brought together A Level and International Baccaleaurate students.  This mimics the way that workplace teams are brought together and enabled students to show their own strengths in a new environment.  The teams developed business plans ranging from healthy pop up street-food to a water saving bath lounger.

Team mentors included parents and friends of the school from the world of business including the corporate world, the City of London and entrepreneurs who run their own businesses.

The competition culminated in a presentation evening at which the students presented their plans to a panel of judges, who asked some difficult questions and teased out some holes in their ideas.  The winning team for 2018 was ‘Just Add Water’, who developed an innovative bottle design that uses fruit juice lozenges to add flavour to water.  The team was made up of: Annabel Parker; Antonia Wegmann; Benedict Belcher; Cleo Bourne; Maya Kent; Oliver Scott; Philip McPherson; and, William Coles.

‘Just Add Water’ Product Features included: unique dispenser-like lid with different tablets; tablets composed of fruit powder made from real fruits; no artificial colouring or added sugar; full of antioxidants and vitamins; long-lasting aluminium bottles.

Students from the winning team commented on the process and their success.  Antonia Wegmann said: “During the process of Take A Risk I learned a lot about business, especially as I don’t study Economics or Business. As I didn’t have any experience in business it was quite hard in the beginning; however, different members of my team had different strengths, which was a great advantage. Together we managed to do our business plan and presentation in a very short period of time as we didn’t agree on our final product at first! But, as you learn when you work in a team, it really was of great importance to get our product right, which is why we spent a lot of time on the final touches. We wanted our presentation introducing ‘Just Add Water’ to be perfectly understandable for the judges and to ensure we hadn’t missed anything out. Take A Risk has really helped me decide whether studying business is an option for me.  Everyone in the team got something out of the challenge and we definitely learned the need for compromise! Altogether it was a really great experience that will help me with my university applications and my future studies.”

Cleo Bourne said:  “I would definitely say Take a Risk is one of the best opportunities for Lower Sixth at Ardingly. It doesn’t matter who you are, what strengths and weaknesses you have or whether you study business because the nature of the project is that of a team. It’s a big commitment but that is one of the challenges of the project – preparation for the real world of work in juggling the commitments you have made. I really enjoyed working with our mentor, and it was an eye-opening opportunity to take part in the challenge. The result of the work we put in as a team was absolutely worth it!”

Jeremy James, parent and mentor of the winning team, and founder and Managing Partner of Ownet consulting said:   “This is a great initiative that challenges the pupils in a number of ways and gives them a first insight into what is required to develop an idea and turn it into a business proposition. I believe it also shows them this is a realistic goal for them in the future. The process facilitates this through the structure and the tight timeframes and conflicting priorities that the team had to contend with, including A Level/IB mock exams, sport, music and other school commitments.

It always amazes me how the pupils are so creative, collaborative and driven to succeed. The way that the team came up with a great idea, based on their interests and care for the environment, and then came together, put the hours in and focused on the tasks in hand to build a compelling business case and presentation was fantastic. It was a pleasure to work with the team and see their creativity and hard work pay off.”

Here is the Just-Add-Water-Business-Plan.pdf