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Zenen Business Challenge


Thursday 30th January saw the first Zenen school business challenge with 12 year 8’s from St James leading the way. Hosted by David Solomides, director of ZENEN Education Services and with involvement of University of Exeter, with Joe Pearce the Business Manager of the Innovation Centre and two of the successful undergraduate entrepreneurs; Ali Gillum (Macaw Designs) and Jon Mills (Mammal Swag), who currently juggle running their own successful businesses with studying.

Ali and Jon adopted a team of 6 each, to coach the Year 8’s in utilising the Xing business game to understand a structured approach to the different elements of creating a business from scratch and the order in which this happens; also, to think for themselves and learn and build on each other’s ideas and suggestions. We were all very impressed with the enthusiasm and creativity the two teams displayed and the way that the participants gravitated towards their individual executive roles.

The objective of the Challenge was to understand the components and building blocks that make a business function, how they are fused and interact, and how the individuals are capable of creating something collectively that they would struggle to achieve individually.

Whilst previous participants usually approach the challenge scientifically, the emotion and drive that the students displayed was infectious, with some very creative ideas, well expressed and enthusiastically delivered.

There was clearly competition between the two teams and each had their strengths, with Team One displaying a greater ability to articulate their business plan and finance, the teams equal on harnessing their creativity and Team Two providing a very cohesive presentation of their product, well-articulated and with a real grasp of how it was going to be marketed.

The net result was a very close run decision, with Team Two winning by a single point. Both teams must be commended for their ability to take their brief and build a virtual company and viable product into which there was very impressive creative thinking that belied their age.

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