Two Billingshurst students are one small step from turning their business dream into reality as they reached the final of a business competition last week.
Josh Stacey and Sam Rose, both 16 and studying at the Weald School, were competing in the semi-final of Young Start-up Talent (YST) at the Basepoint Centre in Crawley, which sees 16-25 year olds in the Gatwick Diamond area pitch their idea to business leaders.
Six ideas went through to the final where the winner will receive £50,000 worth of business tools and mentoring, such as advertising, or banking services to help implement their idea.
Ideas which made it through included a discount card aimed at ages 11-16, gingerbread for young children, a window cleaning business, and a website for unwanted charity clothes pitched at a younger market.
Josh Stacey and Sam Rose successfully pitched their ‘Purple Card’, a discount card which would help younger school children make their money stretch further.
Sam, from Cowfold Road, Coolham, said: “We surveyed people from our school in the Weald and Tanbridge, and 90 per cent of students do not have a part time job, as their money comes from their parents. The disposable income is not there.”
Josh, who lives in London Road, Coldwaltham, added: “It has been a great experience with good networking and a lot of helpful ideas.”
Sam French, 21, from Three Bridges, impressed judges with ‘Sam’s Kitchen’, branded soft gingerbread biscuits, which currently sell at Crawley’s Tulleys Farm.
Alessandro Tricarico, 21, from Smallfield, started his own window-cleaning firm in April 2012, and by investing in high-quality tools is turning over £3,000 a month already.
Asked if the territorialism of the industry put him off, he said they would have to kill him to stop him, and thought he could replicate Duncan Bannatyne’s success, who started with an ice cream van.
Summer Shayne, 17, from Three Bridges, studying at Hazelwick School, wants to develop her clothing for hire listings website, while Dylan Gillah, 17, a student at Sackville College, East Grinstead went through thanks to his plan to sell music t-shirts.
The last finalists, duo Olivia Harrison and Zak Lambri, both 16, from Reigate College, are aiming take items of clothing that charity shops are unable to sell, and pitch them to 16-25 year olds that might not normally see them.
Ideas that fell short included a comparison website for clothes, a recruitment agency for school leavers, interchangeable soles that velcro on for skateboarding shoes, and a science and technology project business.
Judge and sponsor Dorothy Larios, of Three Bridges business Nvision Coaching UK, was impressed by the clear presentation and the passion the contestants had for their ideas.
She explained: “It’s actually quite amazing this group’s confidence, and that must obviously come from school education and their parents, and we’ve got some really exciting ideas.”
Now in its third year, YST is the brainchild of Lorraine Nugent and Matt Turner, managing directors of Media Word Waves and Creative Pod respectively.
Other businesses represented by judges were Crawley Borough Council, Thales UK, West Sussex County Times, Mid Sussex Times, Crawley Observer, Richard Place Dobson, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Basepoint Centre, and Lloyds TSB.
The 2012/2013 finalist are Dylan Gillah, Summer Shayne, Sam French, Alessandro Tricarico, Josh Stacey and Sam Rose, and Olivia Harrison and Zak Lambri.
Semi-finalists included Sara Southey, Tom Talbot, Josh Miles and Thomas Dixon, Josh Taylor, and Tyrone Gaspard-Farr.
The final will be held in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ format on Thursday February 7, with the winner announced on February 28 at a prestigious event at the Lingfield Park Hotel.