The Perse School

Perse Enterprise Conference 2013

13 Nov 2013

Pupils from 16 schools from across the East of England, including Long Road Sixth Form College, Uppingham, Thetford Grammar and The Perse School met award-winning business gurus on Monday to discover how to turn a great idea into a multi-million pound business.

More than 200 delegates aged 15-18 from schools in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Northamptonshire reviewed business plans to select the most promising and devised a strategy to grow the company, pitching their ideas to a panel of business judges. The annual event is organised by The Perse School for schools across the region to learn about the possibilities of a career in business and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Head Ed Elliott explained the aim of the event:

“Striking out as an entrepreneur is not always top of mind for young people considering the merits of different professions. Yet it can be a great choice that provides personal satisfaction as well as an opportunity to create a responsible business that brings benefits to society. I’m delighted that so many respected business leaders have supported the event and helped us provide this opportunity for pupils from a wide range of schools to work and learn together.”

The experts who shared their insights into business success included Michael Bennett, founder of retail brand Oasis, Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, and Ben Gamble part of a team who aim to build the world’s first augmented reality platform.

Setting out what students can learn from entrepreneurs Michael Bennett said:

“This is still a land of great opportunity but in order to succeed you need to be on top of your game whichever path of endeavour you choose. Learning from the experience of others, including discovering what makes the business world tick, can help young people leaving the structured environment of education cope with the new responsibility of creating their own discipline and structure, whether in business or the professions.”

Julie Deane’s talk was particularly inspiring, where she explained that you don’t need huge sums of money to get your business off the ground – she started The Cambridge Satchel Company with just £600, and it is now one of the most recognisable and successful brands in the world. Advocating the benefits of entrepreneurship she said:

“Running a business gives you the opportunity to create something – to work in a different way and to give your dreams a chance of becoming reality. It’s a challenge, seeing how good you can be, if your idea is good enough. It’s hard work and takes a lot of nerve but if you’re the right kind of person it can be the only way to go. It was a real pleasure to speak at The Perse Enterprise Conference 2013 and to pass along some of what I’ve learned along the way in building a global brand from the kitchen.”

Students pitched their ideas to a panel of business judges including Glenn Collinson, co-founder of CSR; Ramon Borrell, R&D director of Xaar; Sarah Evans, chair of Ipswich Building Society; and Richard Mason, CEO of the Cambridge-based biotech company XO1 Ltd. A second teamworking task involved the students working together and sharing ideas to create a ‘marble run’ from straws, paper and paper cups. The aim was to create two structures for a marble to take the longest time to travel from its start to its end point, building them in the shortest possible time to secure bonus points. The structures created were absolutely fantastic, weird and wonderful, and above all, creative. All of the teams worked very well together, with the winning team achieving an overall time of 20 seconds!

Glenn Collinson remarked on the success of the event:

“Now in its ninth year, the Perse Enterprise Conference has once again succeeded brilliantly and has provided, this year, a platform for over 200 budding entrepreneurs from schools across the region to develop their skills in their journey to become the business leaders of the future.”


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