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Small teams of University of York students battled it out over a number of challenging enterprise tasks last week in the York Entrepreneurs' Society's annual flagship event, the York Apprentice. The competition is designed to test a variety of skills such as sales, persuasion, business planning and presentations, rewarding the winning team with £800 a prize pot made possible through the support of event sponsors ACCA, the global body for professional accountants.
This year's competition consisted of four tasks spread over one week. Task one required the teams to venture into York city centre, looking to persuade businesses to give out freebies which would then be put up for auction on campus the same evening. The generosity of local businesses around York was fantastic, with donations from dozens of businesses including £100 worth of vouchers from Piccolino Restaurant.
Task two saw teams designing their own social enterprise in a day. The teams worked closely with York Council for Voluntary Service as well as Jenny Dawson, founder of 'Rubies in the Rubble', a London based social enterprise that uses unsold market produce and turns it into chutneys. Teams presented to a panel of high profile judges that same evening with Matthew Norton, Community Engagement Manager for Lloyds Banking Group, expressing his amazement at the team's ability to identify problems in the local area and find workable solutions. He lauded the "incredible" fact that the teams had been able come up with "such promising and coherent ideas" in just one day, before urging the teams to take their ideas forward on a larger scale.
The penultimate challenge was a sales based task in which teams sold sunglasses and reinvested the profits in a variety of projects including selling bacon sandwiches, raffles and even music lessons to maximise revenue in a day. The teams managed to generate over £1000 during the week, a fantastic achievement and testament to their entrepreneurial flair.
The grand final concluded on Monday 11th March, with teams working on a real world business problem with a local York business from midday on Friday. The three teams worked with two firms based on campus, The Law Wizard and Text Mining Solutions, as well as MorMusic, an independent music shop in York city centre to solve problems such as developing marketing strategies and exploring new potential markets to target. The teams received added help throughout the week in the form of workshops, with a particular useful finance master class run by members of ACCA.
The teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges, with Team Salix (Dan Buchan, Kieron Hazell (2nd years) Hannah Ferry, Millie Reed (1st years)) eventually crowned champions. Kieron Hazell commented that the competition was "very worthwhile and extremely well run" adding that he thoroughly enjoyed "the opportunity...to speak to and engage with a variety of successful and innovative people".
The team not only won £800, but have been offered partner roles with York Community Consulting; a student led consultancy group on campus, and will compete in the Regional Student Apprentice next term. Throughout the event, the Society received support from the enterprise team at the Careers Service, with the Apprentice competitors now looking into utilising their range of options and services offered for aspiring entrepreneurs.