I fondly remember of the famous ‘The 4 Yorkshiremen’ sketch by Monty Python. If you are not familiar with the sketch, it involves four well-dressed men sitting together at a vacation resort, with ‘Farewell to Thee’ being played in the background on the Ukulele. As they reminisce “the bad old days” – each man recounts a more harsh experience than the previous. The final four conversations are…

Terry Jones: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o’clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.

Eric Iddle: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing ‘Hallelujah.’

Michael Palin: But you try and tell the young people today that… and they won’t believe ya’.

ALL: Nope, nope…

Having worked in the technology industry for a long time, I do not have opportunity to engage with many ‘young people’ on a regular basis. So, after being asked by Mike Hooper, a Business Development Manager at Federos, if the company would sponsor the Young Enterprise, an organization dedicated to helping young people succeed, I jumped at the chance. Mike had been involved in the programme when he was at school, and over the last few years, he has served as a business advisor to various teams.

Young Enterprise is a UK-based charity that spearheads programmes for young people (secondary and college students), including hands-on employability, enterprise and financial education to help young people realize their full potential and achieve sustainable careers.

At the start of the school year, teams were charged with starting a business of their choice. This included product/service, marketing and delivery.  The teams were competing against other teams in their area, which were then judged and the winners advanced to the regional final.

Federos was honored to both judge and sponsor the “Best Video” category at the South East England Regional finals, which were held last week in Woking, Berkshire. Teams of students from Sussex, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Kent, Surrey and the Channel Islands attended the event along with teachers, supporters and sponsors – over 200 people in total attended.

Many of the business ideas presented were focussed on environmental issues – sustainability, recycling, plastic usage, and education along with others focussing more on the applied arts with jewelry and artworks. Walking around each of the stands at the event to hear each team’s ‘business pitch’, what was obvious to me was the professionalism and pride all of these students had in their ideas.

Display of Young Enterprise projects at the South East Finals

They answered questions on pricing, sales strategy, accounts and challenges. That was the easy part for them I think – they then each had to present for 3 minutes in front of the whole audience! A few nerves, a few issues with the audio and visuals, but all in all, every team presented amazingly well.

As part of the go-to-market and sales strategy, several of the teams produced short videos to advertise their products. Federos sponsored this award and judged the films. All were very well produced to get the product shown and the benefits presented – not easy to do in the maximum 30 seconds they had!

After a very close competition, the winner for the Best Video Award was the Save Our Seas team from Claremont Fan Court School in Esher who delivered a well produced short film with some clever use of audio, (SOS morse code) to get across the urgent message that the waste resulting from single-use plastics, such as sandwich baggies and drinking straws, is quickly and significantly irreversibly damaging Earth’s environment.

Their product, ‘It’s a Wrap’ is a low cost, BPA free, sustainable, reusable sandwich wrap instead of using clingfilm and similar throw-away plastic products. They produced it in a variety of designs and sizes and have already sold over 100 wraps. A great idea, well planned, designed, made, marketed and sold by the team. Congratulations again to the winners and to all those that took part!

Far from the Monty Python image of the youth of today, from what I can see, we are in very safe hands – smart, creative, personable, business savvy and professional…..But you try and tell the old people today that… and they won’t believe ya’!

It really was a privilege to be involved with the event and I look forward to supporting again in the future.

More information on the charity can be found here: https://www.young-enterprise.org.uk/.