The 2013 Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) Awards took place on Tuesday 18th June and Michelle Smith, founder of ValueAdd Business Solutions, was delighted to have been invited to judge at this prestigious event.
The Company Programme is aimed at pupils aged 16-18 and gives them practical, hands on experience of setting up and running a company.
Finalists from all over Scotland congregated at the Thistle Hotel, Glasgow with amazing stories of how they became part of this extraordinary journey. The event was a culmination of many hours of blood, sweat and tears for these young adults.
The 3 stages of the judging process
Judges received business reports from each team prior to the event and these clearly demonstrated the development of both the products and the teams. With ideas ranging from cookbooks to phone apps every one of them as great a concept as the other. Judging was going to be a difficult process.
As the competitors set up their trade stands the judges chatted through the agenda for the day. Teams were to be marked on three criteria; reports and interview, trade stand and finally a 4 minute presentation.
For the interview element, judges were taken to interview rooms where each set of 3 judges interviewed teams. Knowing how nervous the youngsters would be, we were keen to put them at ease but each and every one of them came across as confident and knowledgeable. They knew their products inside out and weren’t afraid to shout about it. Of course, not everything runs smoothly and it was good to see how the teams coped with any issues, many could learn from them!
The judging of the Trade Stands was next; WOW, some of these stands wouldn’t look out of place at a commercial event. The attention to detail was incredible and the products were amazingly high quality despite a few manufacturing issues along the way. Just goes to show what can be done with a little persistence.
After lunch, the part everyone dreads; the presentations. Nerves were building but all competitors kept their cool and with astounding confidence, the presenters amazed the judges, this confidence and skill will definitely stand them in good stead for their future. How can you judge such a high standard? It was tough!
Time to relax; a few hours to chill, network, catch up and take in refreshments then it was time to announce the winners.
The big announcement
The evening Awards Ceremony was a celebration of the success of the Programme and the individuals involved. Over 300 attendees listened to guest speaker, Leith Entrepreneur, Sir Tom Farmer as he delivered these wise words “Believe in yourself, keep the can do attitude and never be frightened of things not working out”.
Des Clarke, Scottish stand-up comedian and presenter, worked the room in his usual cheeky boy way as he continued through the list of thoroughly deserving winners building excitement as he went. With the ultimate winner to be announcement all teams were on the edge of their seat. We’re delighted to say Dolly Creations from Glasgow scooped the top prize as overall winners and will now represent Scotland at the UK event held in London. Their product, bespoke hand crafted dolls, was extremely popular and we wish them the very best of luck.
At the end of the fantastic evening Michelle said “I was delighted to be involved in the judging process. The YES Company Programme is a fabulous platform to inspire these young adults, several participants actually said it had inspired them so much that they had changed what they wanted to do with their life going forward. I hope all the teams enjoyed the process and wish the overall winner on the night, Dolly Creations, the very best of luck in the UK finals”.
Stuart Miller, Chief Executive of YES, said: “It was an incredibly inspiring evening which proved just how capable Scotland’s young people are. These aspiring entrepreneurs face challenges through the Company Programme that prepare them for the world of work and the experience clearly equips them with vital business skills for the future. We’ve seen evidence of this time and time again at our annual awards ceremonies and tonight was no exception.”
A list of all the winners is on the YES website