Spalding pupils pitch their ideas to Dragon's Den at Ayscoughfee Hall School
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand in front of Deborah Meaden and pitch your business idea?
The Year Six pupils of Ayscoughfee Hall School in Spalding recently braved the Dragons' Den. Instead of Deborah Meaden's steely gaze, they came up against me. Would I be willing to part with my cash in return for a percentage of their business?
This was the second year I've accepted an invitation by Year Six teacher, Theresa Wright, to be part of the Dragon's Den. As a governor of the school, I love to know what the children are doing in class, and this is a great way to see, first hand, how they approach a task and work as a team.
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I was joined in the den by the Head, Clare Ogden, and fellow governor, Debbie Whatford. Unfortunately we weren't given a thick wad of notes to play with but we did spend a wonderful morning with the children, hearing about their inventions.
Last year we were wowed by some excellent ideas. These included a foldable whiteboard, a backpack with integral umbrella and an ingenious suitcase which doubled up as a sun-bed.
I also remember a special gaming glove which used 'haptic' technology. I had no idea what that meant so had to ask these young, bright 10 and 11 year-olds to help me understand.
This year the budding entrepreneurs were just as inventive. We were shown a reversible, personalised T-shirt, edible popcorn cones, a dressing-gown with built-in torch (for those late night fridge visits!), slipper warmers and a shoe-cleaning kit.
What impressed me, this year and last, was how professional and confident these young children were, pitching their ideas to three adults whilst being watched by their parents and the Year 5s. That takes some courage.
As a 'Dragon', I'm not just judging the product, but the presentation. Is there a clear explanation? Have the children thought about marketing and costing?
The children used PowerPoint to highlight some of the figures and benefits. Everyone in each team had a role to play. We even had prototypes to give us an idea of the final product.
The junior inventors had certainly put a lot of thought into their presentations. They had considered the cost to make the item, how much to sell it for and were adept at forecasting future profits. They weren't shy in asking for money either.
It was good to hear environmental issues being considered and interesting to note that the children had thought about their target market.
At the end of the presentations the Dragons deliberated and the prize (certificates and chocolates) went to the team behind the shoe-cleaning kit. They had a fun prototype, answered questions well and the product certainly had potential.
But all the groups had something special to offer so it wasn't an easy decision. The children had worked very hard, were great team players and, with humour and ingenuity, had braved the Dragons' Den.
I'm definitely not out!
You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk