Students at the International Community School in Paddington have put their business skills to the test, taking part in the nationwide youth enterprise competition Tycoon in Schools.

Launched by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones CBE – and run by the Peter Jones Foundation – to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, Tycoon in Schools challenges youngsters to develop and put into practice a real-life, viable business plan.

Using a start-up loan of up to £1000, teams are competing to raise the most profits possible during a seven-week trading period that began on November 3rd and will close on December 19th.

Peter Jones said: "Tycoon in Schools is a great opportunity for students to find out first-hand what running a business is really like. Having started in 2012, the competition has grown and grown, with thousands of students taking part across the country this year. The confidence and knowledge the students acquire during the process is invaluable. The whole experience stands them in good stead for the future."

Entrants from the International Community School have formed two teams, Stellar|OHMs and Young Gunz. The former have sourced an attractive range of phone chargers for competitive rates from China, which have so far proved very popular with customers. However, unforeseen import fees have been costly.

The latter are capitalising on the demand for coloured headphones, which, according to the Young Gunz, are currently trending in Asia. The product allows consumers to match their headphones with their mobile cases and smaller accessories.

Stefan Hagan, enterprise co-ordinator at the school, couldn’t resist investing in a pair: "I personally bought a red and blue pair for the colours of my favourite football team," he said.

Students at the International Community School in Paddington
Students at the International Community School in Paddington
 

Speaking about the effect the competition has had on students, Mr Hagan continued: "It has really helped them develop a number of key entrepreneurial skills. Professional business planning and documentation is really useful, but the practical discussion of marketing decisions in terms of product selection, pricing and supplier choice is vital. The scheme really gets students thinking about the practical realities of business theory using a very hands-on approach. There have been mistakes along the way, but they have taken all of these issues in their stride.”

Brenda Murray, head of the ICS secondary school, said: "The business club has nurtured our students' passions and encouraged them to embrace the cut and thrust of the business world both fearlessly and consciously."

Having already sold to their peers at school, the teams are now planning to branch out and take their products to boot fairs and local retailers. They have also set up Instagram, Twitter and Youtube accounts to help drum up interest.

Mr Jones, who is following the competition closely, continued: “The students at the International Community School have clearly put a great deal of thought into their projects and are showing some true entrepreneurial spirit. I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress."

While many teams from schools and colleges across the country have chosen to source their goods from suppliers, there are plenty that have been producing their own. With everything from graffiti-inspired cupcakes to festive jumpers for wine bottles and various other Christmas-themed products on sale, competition is tough.

The teams will submit final evaluation reports to a judging panel – which includes the dragon himself – in January, before the overall winners are announced in February. Tycoon in Schools is open to all school children in England aged 11-18.