Student Enterprise AwardsThe Challenge

The Student Enterprise Awards is a start your own business competition which operates annually at second level throughout the county. In 2013, the Local Enterprise Office South Dublin engaged TL Marketing to act as Schools Enterprise Co-ordinator, assisting teachers in delivering enterprise education and helping students to prepare their business projects for the competition.

In addition to generating interest and acting as support throughout the competition, TL were also tasked with coordinating the South Dublin local final and helping to prepare the winners for the National Finals.

Within LEO South Dublin there were 35 (now 36) schools in the catchment area which included Lucan, Tallaght, Clondalkin, Palmerstown, Rathfarnham and Templeogue. Before we began work on the project the participation rate among schools would have been at around 12-14 schools each year and that was predominantly in the senior category with almost no input from Juniors and Intermediate groups.

The Strategy

Our initial step was to update the existing marketing material that was going out to schools with a fresh design look that would appeal to the younger audience, introducing posters for the schools which had previously never been used. We also approached external companies to come on board as sponsors for student and teacher prizes to increase the incentives for participation. We then visited the schools, delivering a bespoke presentation which looked at the programme and what it meant to be an entrepreneur.

At the first deadline in October we could already see a significant increase in participation and by the time we reached the business report submission deadline in February we realised that for the first time ever there was going to have to be a shortlisting stage.

Having finalised our group numbers and informed all of the schools of the shortlisting results we then began to prepare for the awards final in the Institute of Technology Tallaght. This involved liaising with the building services team in IT Tallaght to organise stands for each group, electricity points at the tables and catering. There were also external requirements such as ordering trophies and medals and booking a DJ and photographer for the event as well as branded balloons to decorate the venue.

On the day there were, on average, 250 students showcasing their businesses during which time we had to coordinate judging, meal times for the students and the transfer of all students to the main auditorium for the announcement of the winners. It is a large scale event which requires a lot of management to ensure the various elements throughout the day happen on time and the event doesn’t run over.

The Outcome

Each year from 2013 to 2018, we have seen successes and challenges with this programme but we have consistently maintained growth in participation both across schools in the area and within in the 3 categories. We would gather feedback from teachers each year with a view to constantly improving the experience for those involved and including sponsorship from local businesses to further foster the entrepreneurial spirit through special merit awards for standout groups.

What the Numbers Have to Say

Increase in schools participation
Increase in participation within the Junior and Intermediate categories
Increase in the number of groups submitting business reports