Guest blog: Young Enterprise UK Company of the Year Final

Our youngest recruit 15 year-old Tilly Leach has been on work experience with Forgather. Here's what she made of the Young Enterprise UK Company of the Year Awards...

On Thursday 6th July 2017, I went to the British Film Institute London to help out at the Young Enterprise UK Company of the Year final as part of my work experience for Forgather. Young Enterprise is a charity that works with young people to teach them business skills. Over the last year, 20,000 15-19 years from across the UK set up their own business as part of the Company Programme. During this event, the 14 finalist teams competed head to head to be named the overall winner.

The drive of the students was very clear which made for an exhilarating atmosphere throughout the event. In the afternoon, the teams presented their pitches in the auditorium in front of a judging panel with representatives from HSBC, Disney, FedEx and Delta. Later that afternoon they took part in a workshop on presenting to fine tune their skills, which was followed by the awards ceremony itself which saw VenturePad (the London team) win Company of the Year 2017.

There were many inspirational guest speakers at the event including multi-award winning young entrepreneur Ben Towers – named Number One on The Times Magazine Superteen Power List. More of the guests were Amber Atherton - CEO & Founder of Zyper, Ben Bailey Smith - Actor, Comedian & Writer and Levi Roots - Musician, Chef and Entrepreneur. These guests passionately discussed the impact each young person could make on the world and the journey they’d personally gone through to get to where they are now.

Here are my top 5 highlights of the event

Pitch coach Ginny Bown in action with the teams

Pitch coach Ginny Bown in action with the teams

  • My top highlight was the presenting workshop where the teams learnt how to engage with the audience and how to stand and speak when presenting. The workshop really focused on using hand gestures, and how to adjust your pitch and tone of voice – including how to whisper with impact. I’ll definitely remember this when I take part in a Young Enterprise programme myself next year.
Two of the team from Stress<ess, along with BBC Breakfast's Ben Thompson

Two of the team from Stress<ess, along with BBC Breakfast's Ben Thompson

  • My favourite pitch was from Stressless, by a team from Immanuel College. Their product was very impressive as it combined aromatherapy and stress balls. This is extremely relevant to my age group as stress in students has increased dramatically over the last couple of years with exam stress impacting students’ lives. I couldn’t believe that 63% of students say stress interferes with their day to day lives. It was also a very professional, engaging presentation with audience interaction. 
  • I loved talking to the teams as some of the students were around my age, and they were truly inspirational when talking about the dedication and passion they had for their business and the journey they had been on. I was incredibly impressed with the effort and hard work all the students had put into their business to create such high value products. The winning team VenturePad said they’d been putting in over 20 hours of work a week on top of their school work, even working through the night.
Lee Grimes from National Star College, picking up his special achievement award.&nbsp;

Lee Grimes from National Star College, picking up his special achievement award. 

  • A really heart-warming moment was when Lee Grimes won a special achievement award as part of the Team Programme, which is open to students with special educational needs and/or disabilities. He was so shocked and overcome with emotion about winning the award and the top tip he gave was very humbling, saying "Listen to your feelings and take advice".
  • I also really enjoyed learning more about what Young Enterprise do and what they are trying to achieve. Their aim is to try and help young people learn about the world of work to try and tackle youth unemployment. This is something I can really relate to, as I myself know that the idea of finding a job in the future very daunting! Hopefully the work Young Enterprise is doing can make the whole process less intimidating, and a more positive experience.

The event was truly inspiring, capturing the enthusiasm of all the teams, and their ambition and drive. Congratulatons to the winning team!