IBM Student Business Idea Award
IBM Award Dragons’ Den Cash prize for the best undergraduate business idea
The entrepreneurship of students at the University of York management school was put to the test when they entered the IBM sponsored business idea award ‘dragons’ den’ competition.
‘Scrutiny of students’ business acumen is part of the teaching programme at York’, explains school head Steven Toms. Teams of second-year management students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas on how to start and run a successful enterprise as part of an innovative teaching programme. ‘Their business strategy, financial forecasts and funding proposals were put to the ‘dragons’, leaders from a range of highly successful businesses.
Business teaching at York is not only focused on ensuring students have an in-depth understanding of management theory and processes, but ensures srudents can adapt this knowledge the setting up of an actual business and can also demonstrate key businesses skills.
The teaching, over two semesters, incorporates aspects of strategy, finance, marketing, management and entrepreneurship. 32 students’ business idea proposals were initially presented to an intimidating panel of dragons including senior management from Davis Langdon. The business plan presentations had to withstand searching questions. The top five groups were then finalists at the prestigious IBM funded Award ceremony.
Business mentor Amanda Hullick, from the School’s Centre for Business Collaboration said, ‘It was a stunningly well-thought-out and well-delivered programme, of which the IBM event was the final part. I found the event tremendously exciting and I believe that the educational value of the day was fantastic.’
At the IBM event, asking the difficult questions were three ‘dragons’ with years of experience in senior management. IBM director Gerry Riley, said: ‘I was seriously impressed. This business planning module will make these students better employees and for some of them it will have sparked an interest in setting themselves up in business ownership – in short, it may have a profound influence on their future careers.’
‘Dragon’ Lee Hillyard from David Langdon, said: ‘I thought the teams were very good indeed. Most had understood the key issues and had clearly put a great deal of thought into their approach, and delivered their points with confidence. The best teams managed to hit the right balance between having a clear and attractive proposition for financial investors and outlining the steps they would take in the business to create value. All seemed to have a very significantly greater grasp of business issues than I had at their age!’
Student Jeroen Mondeel, said: ‘This experience puts us ahead of most management students out there. The project was really good, and it brought together everything we had learned in the business planning module this year. The “dragons’ den” was really good fun. The mentors were really helpful and having them there was a real boost.’
Selina Atwal, a member of the winning student team, ‘Boxed Promo’, added: ‘The business project gave me a valuable insight into the running of a business and the input from businesses such as IBM and Davis Langdon was extremely useful.’
‘The exercise really put into play everything that we learned throughout the business planning module, and it was a great opportunity to practice my public speaking and presentation skills.’ commented student Alexander Taylor. Of his team’s mentors he added: ‘They gave us lots of insights into the realities of running a business and how much things actually cost. The whole experience, along with what we have learned in the module, has really enlightened me on the practicalities of running a business.’