An entrepreneur with a passion for fixing household objects told students in Tralee yesterday that her idea has gone global and will top £1million stg in sales in 2012. Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, art student turned inventor, told 600 students at the Young Entrepreneur Programme Business Boot Camp that naivety is probably the best asset that young people have. Her product Sugru - a novel silicon rubber material that can be moulded into any shape, was selected as one of Time Magazine's top 50 inventions alongside the Apple iPad.
Other known business names included Daragh Murphy of zany t-shirt company, Hairy Baby, David Bobbett of H&K International suppliers of restaurant solutions to McDonalds worldwide also took to the stage at the Business Boot Camp day to share their journeys to success and the difficulties they faced with students and business mentors attending the event hosted by Colette Fitzpatrick of TV3.
David Bobbett, whose business has annual sales of $500m and net profit of $50m employs 1,000 people in over 70 countries, told students "Having culture of being the best is the most important ingredient in a successful business"
The Business Boot Camp day is an integral part of the Young Entrepreneur Programme as it is here that the students get the opportunity to pitch their ideas for the first time to a panel of successful entrepreneurs. Among the many innovative ideas stress-tested at the event were Curriculum, a fun board game for Junior Cert Students, Social Gamers, a video gamers tournament network and Rua, a range of products and services specially designed for redheads.
Jerry Kennelly of Tweak.com, co-founder of the Young Entrepreneur Programme, believes it is programmes such as YEP that will help to develop a generation of graduates with an entrepreneurial spirit; "Business Boot Camp is an ideal platform for the students to connect with the entrepreneurial community, receive feedback on their business ideas, and begin to explore entrepreneurship as a career choice" said Jerry.
The Young Entrepreneur Programme, which is now successfully in its fifth year, is an initiative developed by Institute of Technology, Tralee, Shannon Development and Tweak.com, aimed at 15-23 year old students in second and third level schools in Kerry, Limerick, Cork and Louth. The programme, which requires students to identify a business idea and develop a business plan, is being run in association with LEADER for 2012. The students develop their business plans under the guidance of their teachers, who receive educator training on all aspects of the programme and entrepreneurship, as well as dedicated business mentors for the duration of the programme. In March the students will sit an examination and the best business ideas are then shortlisted for the final, which culminates in an awards ceremony in May, where the Young Entrepreneur of the Year is announced.