TV ‘Dragon’ gives students a business lesson

The former Dragon’s Den investor shared his business insight with budding entrepreneurs and jobseekers at the college’s Baltic Campus yesterday.

Students were given hints and tips on how to create the perfect pitch, turn their ideas into cash, identify a profitable business and sell themselves to potential employers and investors.

Meanwhile, tutors at the college were given a lesson on how to build enterprise into their teaching and inspire their students to become more confident in front of employers.

Doug Richard, who has made his fortune from buying and selling companies and investing in early-stage start-ups, said: “It’s clear that Gateshead College has a strong commitment to developing enterprise, not just as a stand-alone subject but across all of its learning disciplines. The students were articulate, enthusiastic and many of them had some excellent business ideas.

“I’m a strong believer in empowerment and enablement through enterprise teaching. Having an entrepreneurial mindset is an integral approach to all areas of a budding career, whether that is starting out on your own or taking an established role.”

Mr Richard, who rose to fame on the BBC’s hit TV show, added: “Entrepreneurship is a skill that must be learned and taught, especially in an uncertain economic climate. Many people have built successful businesses after being forced into self-employment through redundancy.”

Coming just days after Global Entrepreneurship Week, the event coincided with the launch of a new initiative set up by Gateshead College to promote enterprise in education. The scheme, called Northern Stars, gives students the opportunity to discuss their business ideas with new start-ups and established business mentors.

Vicki Hodgson, entrepreneurial activity manager at Gateshead College, said: “Northern Stars is part of a wider drive by the college to give students the skills and confidence to launch their own venture or gain meaningful employment within an established business. Doug’s visit really inspired the students and showed them that it is possible to make money and be a success in a competitive environment.

“Several of our talented students have already gone on to run profitable businesses and the North East needs more people to follow suit to get the economy back on track.”

One recently launched business is Mixr, a student enterprise that produces fun, taste-bud-tempting mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails). The company was awarded £500 of funding from the FE pioneers programme, a business support scheme that helps new start-ups to get off the ground.

Sixteen-year-old Marcus Gallagher from South Shields, a founder of Mixr, said: “The thought of starting your own business is quite daunting but Doug helped me to realise that anything is possible if you have the skills, confidence and a positive mindset. Even the most experienced entrepreneurs make mistakes but it’s important to learn from them so that you don’t repeat them.”

For further information on Gateshead College courses, visit www.gateshead.ac.uk or call 0191 490 2246.