The first thing we did was create a YES regional support crew of two. Anne Thoroughgood and Alex Bradley deliver strong support to YES teams and teachers. They visit classrooms to hold small seminars and work with individual teams. Anne and Alex also support students to find business mentors. Once students have a mentor they organise meetings between mentors, businesses and YES teams.
We recently had a school register with YES after a break away due to the positive impact Anne and Alex made supporting teachers at other schools. In the future, we'd like to involve our third year and postgraduate business studies students in a support role.
NMIT provides opportunities for YES teams to connect with business people in rich and dynamic ways. Our networking initiatives include ‘speed mentoring’ - kinda like speed dating. Fifty business professionals from around the region sit opposite YES students to hear their idea and provide feedback. A gong sounds after five minutes and the student moves to the next biz pro.
The mentors available to YES teams are quite simply ‘wow’. YES attracts a wide range of established entrepreneurs like Noel Eichbaum, Vice Chairman at Nelson Angels (Noel also contributes to the running of Dragons Den); YES award winner for 2014 Rees Vinsen who created the business Adduco media which now has offices in Nelson, Blenheim and Auckland; lawyers from Pitt and Moore; accountants, consultants, and technology professionals from Crowe Horwath. And the list goes on!
Each workshop helps to develop soft skills such as:
In 2017 the workshop topics are:
NMIT provides a neutral space away from school for YES teams. Here they can develop and release their business idea into the world. All five workshops, the Dragons Den heats and the annual awards ceremony take place on Nelson campus in the Johnny Cash room. All rooms at NMIT are available for free and all resources needed while on campus are provided.
Where’s Woolly is a children’s book based on the hugely popular Where’s Wally book series. It was created by a group of Nelson College Students who participated in YES in 2016. Where’s Woolly received national recognition. It made four national best sellers lists, winning the HSBC Sales and Marketing Award. And the team took out the 2016 Young Enterprise Scheme 'Company of the Year'. The book is available in Mandarin and there’s a Te Reo version on the way. Woolly's reach spans 27 countries! Here’s what the team had to say after Dragons Den 2016:
“On behalf of the Where's Woolly Team we would just like to say a huge thank you for putting your time and effort into this event. It has benefitted the group extremely.
“All in all the event was organised and constructed well and would just like to congratulate you and your team on this. Braydon Drummond - Finance Director, Where's Woolly Productions.”
Each term one major YES event takes place in the lead up to the annual awards. In term three of 2016 YES teams went to market. 'Market Day' being the case for teams in Nelson. One Waimea College boys team was on a mission to create a lip balm for guys. It was crunch time. It didn’t seem likely that their product would be ready in time. The group’s teacher and Anne both urged caution, suggesting they pursue a simpler idea to ‘tick that box’.
But the guys knew deep down their business plan was too good to ditch. They worked until midnight the night before and arrived to Market Day with Barbaric Balm. A lip balm for guys. Beautifully presented in a tin with slide-off lid.
Moral of the story: Back yourself. They had pitched their idea. They had received feedback from their mentor. They had a solid business plan and knew they were onto something special. They backed themselves and it worked.
The Young Enterprise Scheme may be a competition, but for NMIT YES is much more. YES is the most beneficial, practical, experiential based learning for year 12 and 13 students to be part of in preparation for life outside a school classroom.