On the evening of Thursday 9th February the John Fisher School in Purley hosted its very own Young Apprentice Competition, attended by three prominent businessmen: chairman of West Ham Football club David Gold, chairman of House of Fraser Don McCarthy and owner of MOMA Food’s Tom Mercer who acted as the judges for the event. The competition was organised by the collaboration of two teachers in the school Mr A. Dean and Mr E. Miller. The prizes included an invitation to the executive box, containing ten seats, at West Ham’s Upton Park, House of Fraser vouchers, autobiographies from David Gold and Alan Sugar, and MOMA food samples. The winning team was Team Horizon whose product was Dip ‘n’ Dunk, a tubular wafer filled with chocolate to be dunked in hot beverages and aimed at professionals.

For purposes of full disclosure, the author was a competitor in the competition.

There were six teams of year 11 students competing to win; with strong competition from all. Each team had to create a snack product suitable for sale in a supermarket or independent store, there were no other restrictions on target audience or price; each team was allowed to innovate freely.

The event was structured in a similar fashion to the business TV programme Dragons Den, where each team must make a sales pitch, persuading the judges that their business idea is the best. At the end of each presentation, each judge would give their feedback and advice on how to improve their concept. The judges considered the range of resources used, the quality of the presentation and the business strategy the team had in place to reach their verdict.

The aim of the event was to display some of the business acumen within the school and to give students an insight into how businesses develop competitive products.

From my perspective, as an insider, there was a lot of work that went into cultivating the concept. Our team, like any other, spent many hours on our concept, market research, product design, branding, advertising video and PowerPoint presentation. In my estimation, every competitor gained valuable experience about the way in which products are developed today and how it requires synergy (collaboration among all those involved) to bring a vision into fruition.