Business students' success is 'Barking Mad'

Gateshead College students beat off competition from Gazelle partner colleges North Hertfordshire College and City College Norwich to win a Dragon's Den style competition last week.

Business students founded the Barking Mad company, and pitched their idea for dog walking accessory the 'Wagg Bag' to 'dragons' entrepreneurs Priya Lakhani and Ben Ramsden, and City College Norwich Principal Dick Palmer.

Gazelle entrepreneurs Priya Lakhani, founder of Masala Masala and SOCO, and Ben Ramsden, founder of Pants to Poverty, alongside City College Norwich Principal Dick Palmer, joined over 100 students from City College Norwich and partner schools and colleges in a hive of enterprising activity that brought a buzz of excitement to the StartUp Lounge.

The main reception area of the College was transformed into a vibrant market throughout the day, showcasing existing enterprises within the College, from media production companies Interim Records and the Media Mob, to clothes retailer ego, fashion label Cocoon, to the Crystal Clean car valeting service and sales of hair and beauty treatments, flowers and cakes.

After taking in the market, the invited guests had the opportunity to tour the StartUp Lounge which takes students through a series of stages in a business start-up "journey", from developing their concept in the Ideation area, to market research and business planning, finding and working with partners in the Collaboratorium, to honing their pitching and presentation skills.

The highly interactive spaces within the StartUp Lounge feature some of the latest digital technology, including a Dragons' Den-style pitching room with two-way video recording, enabling students to not only review their presentation skills but also to play back the reactions of their audience during their pitch.

Around 60 invited business leaders and entrepreneurs were given credit cards to spend virtual cash on products and services that have been developed in recent weeks by teams of students from City College Norwich, Gateshead College and North Hertfordshire College, as part of the Market Maker competition. 

The top three teams then pitched their businesses to "dragons" Priya Lakhani, Ben Ramsden and City College Norwich Principal Dick Palmer in The Studio, watched by a larger audience on the Intereaction big screen. 

Gazelle Entrepreneur, Priya Lakhani, Founder, Masala Masala and SOCO said:  "The education system we currently have is built to push young people down the traditional route of employment which isn't suitable for everyone. Young people today have the talent and creativity required to start their own business, and we need to do more to encourage them to dream big."

Gazelle has been created by Generator Enterprises, a company founded by five college principals, including Richard Thorold, Gateshead College Principal.  The other colleges are City College North, New College Nottingham, North Hertfordshire College and Warwickshire College. 

Gazelle is working with some of Britain's most inspirational entrepreneurs to ensure that students are equipped with an ambitious, can-do attitude and prepared for success in employment in today's economic climate.

Generator Enterprises is working on a blueprint for an Entrepreneurial College of which the StartUp Lounge will form a key part. Many of the features of the blueprint have been inspired by the work of Babson College, the leading American college for entrepreneurship, and the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship.