Pro Features

How YES crosses the business boundaries

Today’s high school students face a world where technological change makes it much harder to plot out a career path. That’s one reason Woodford House has embraced the Young Enterprise Scheme.

Woodford House is one of 15 schools across Hawke’s Bay participating in the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) this year and has five teams competing in the challenge.

Woodford’s head of business studies and director of innovation Toni Dunstan views the scheme as an exciting initiative and a vital component in the school’s mission to prepare its students for an evolving career environment.

This year Woodford House introduced a Level 3 (Year 13) business studies course – incorporating YES – into its curriculum. The course is aimed at providing students with experiential learning in a business context and Toni says she has been delighted by the positive elements YES is delivering.

“What I love about this course is the experiential learning and the interdisciplinary nature. It’s not just the silo of business studies,” she says.

“Take Bayuble for example [one of the Woodford YES teams profiled below]. They have spent just as much time in the science lab and in the food tech room developing their product and are going to enter it into the local science fair.

“That crossover of business and science is really exciting because in my personal view, that’s an example of the future of education – we have to break down silos and understand that learning is about crossing boundaries.

“The Young Enterprise Programme is a wonderful vehicle for business education because with elements such as its competitive nature, the deadlines and the outside audience, it puts a real-world scaffolding around what the girls are learning. It’s not just me setting an arbitrary date for an assignment, there are people outside the school who they are accountable to. I also love the interaction with their mentors, which brings the community into what we’re doing.”

MYTAPP: linking students and tutors

For their YES business, Sophie Svenson, Monique Way, Bridget de Latour and Francesca Arlidge are developing a web-based application designed to connect students with freelance tutors.

Users will sign up either as a tutor or a student, and they will then be connected with people in their local community to arrange tutoring sessions through the platform.

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The group got off to an excellent start in developing their business by successfully securing seed funding from EIT and Waikato University. They say they have benefited greatly by working closely with their mentor, Georgina Miller, the co-founder of local digital agency Mogul.

One of the lessons learnt in the early months of the project, they say, has been the importance of ensuring the service meets the needs of its target market. To do that, the group interviewed a range of people including parents, students and tutors to find how they thought current tutoring options could be improved to offer a better service.

“The message we got from that was that while a lot of web-based services only offer online tutoring – because it’s easy and accessible – students really want face-to-face tutoring, so that’s what we’re focusing on.”

They say their target market of high school students is likely to be exposed to the service through social media, so that will be a major focus for the project.

“Marketing, particularly through social media, will play a big part in drawing users to the platform.”

Bayuble: a better way to label fruit

Sarah Wixon, Rylie Bensemann, Zoe Rookes and Maggie Peacock have been hard at work in the lab working on the development of a water soluble, environmentally friendly fruit sticker that will reduce waste and encourage consumers to wash their fruit.

They hope their plastic-free, biodegradable sticker idea will revolutionise how fruit is labelled.

The make-up of their sticker material is a trade secret but it involves using a by- product of apples, and the concept was good enough to win seed funding from Waikato University.

“Europe has recently introduced a target to be rid of unnecessary plastic, and we see the fruit sticker as being in that category.”

The team’s mentor is Dean Prebble, a former New Zealand trade commissioner in Taiwan who recently set up the Hawke’s Bay Angels investment group. The students say Dean’s input and feedback has been priceless and he has provided them with valuable contacts as they have researched their project.

“We’ve built up a lot of connections in the industry through our research, which has included discovering there have been alternatives to fruit stickers, including a fruit tattoo (done through lasering). We looked into that and discovered that lasering the fruit can leave it blemished, which detracts from its visual appeal. In many markets, they want the ‘perfect apple’ and our stickers would allow the fruit to remain in top condition, whereas the current stickers can leave a bit of a sticky residue that can detract from the look of the fruit.”