After months of preparation, the Regional Finals have arrived. Having been up since the crack of dawn, the Phonic Farm students were all very excited to finally be on route to the Met Office in Exeter for the South West Regional Finals of the Young Enterprise company programme competition.
With the mini bus already packed and a lot of tea prepared, the students started their journey down the M5. It however wasn’t a calm journey as excitement was hitting and they had some final presentation practice to do.
Unfortunately, as Billy was unwell earlier in the week, the team decided to put Max in his place for the presentation. With this being decided on Tuesday, Max was truly thrown in at the deep end. With this sudden change, as you can imagine a lot of practicing took place on route. It was however a very productive journey with a lot of confidence being built and excitement levels being raised.
After almost 2 hours of travelling, the students arrived! It was now a matter of unloading all the stand equipment from the mini bus and taking it to where they could set up. With the amount of stuff they had, it took them a little while!
Once the bus was emptied, the students could start putting together their stand. As they have done this so many times before, it was a quick and seamless process. They were completely set up and ready within 20 minutes of arrival. It was then a chance for them to relax and have a sneaky look at all the other teams that were competing.
Before they knew it, the briefing started. All the students were gathered together and given a brief explanation of what was taking place throughout the day before being given their timetable of events.
The first item on their agenda was the company interview. They had 15 minutes to get themselves psyched up before being called in to meet the judges. Billy, Lily and Tom went into the interview, whilst the remaining 5 students manned the stand. After 20 minutes, they returned to the stand absolutely delighted with how well they felt it went. This motivation was exactly what the team needed!
Soon after, the students were approached by the trade stand judges. It was a full 15 minutes of questions, but the students handled themselves very well. All the comments they received were very positive and the judges seemed truly engaged with the product and idea. The particularly liked the new product ranges that were produced in French, German and Spanish.
It was going well so far, just the presentation to go!
Luckily as part of their schedule, the teams were given 15 minutes to practice on the stage, work out microphones and when to click their slides. This could not have come at a better time. After a minor critique from some of the board members, the team took away what they needed to work on and were committed to make their presentation the best it could possibly be.
It was then time for lunch, so I spent this with Max, Lily and Tom doing some last minute practicing.
In a blink of an eye, the teams were being led into the conference room to start presenting. Phonic Farm were third, so they had some time to review the competition before getting up there.
Their moment to shine arrived and the nerves finally hit! The presentation was confident, well-projected and creative. Even though there were a few stumbles, they did everyone proud.
It was then just a waiting game as the judges retired to make their decision.
After a full-on deliberation, the judges returned, and it was time for the awards to be presented and the winner to be announced. There were over 15 awards to be given out, so it lasted some time but the spread of winners across the 8 teams varied. Phonic Farm were highly commended for their creativity throughout the awards process but unfortunately were the only team to not take home a trophy.
SOWBooks from Devon were announced as the winners. It was clear after their well-timed and confident presentation that they would be the ones taking the crown and progressing to London. The student company produces stories which follow Peter the Puffin on his mission to save the world.
This maybe the end of the road for Phonic Farm with regards to the competition, but it is now time for them to move on and spread the word about their product and sell their remaining stock.
It has been a rollercoaster ride, but I could not be prouder of these students. They have developed dramatically since I first met them in September and are now confident business men and women who can take on anything and be successful. I am delighted to have been involved in this journey with them, you have done me and everyone around you proud. In my first year as a Business Advisor, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to go through this process with. You are all stars!