Enterprising students beat the heat at school’s Dragon’s Den competition

STUDENTS from St John the Baptist School in Old Woking won a Dragons’ Den-style business competition, beating eight teams in the showcase final.

Bahay Baked, comprising Ynman Billones, Keira Borlagdatan, Rafael Dalisay and Alex Merkelovas, was declared “most likely to succeed” by a three-strong panel of established businessmen.

WINNING PLAN – (From left) Jack Fettes, Ynman Billones, Alex Merkelovas, Glenn Wooldridge, Keira Borlagdatan and Rafael Dalisay, and the team explaining their business pitch to Harriet Phillips, head of business and economics at St John the Baptist

The team’s name means “home baked” in Tagalog, the main language spoken in the Philippines.  Three team members’ families originate from the Philippines.

They made traditional Filipino cakes, including ube roll, made from yam and puto. The students had baked and beautifully wrapped the treats for the judges to sample.

The final was fought out by teams of four, four from St John the Baptist, from their original entry of 24, three from Salesian School in Chertsey and two representing St Peter’s, Guildford.

“Young people are creative, brave and hard-working, which is why they make such great entrepreneurs,” said James Granville Hamshar, head teacher at St John the Baptist.

“At our local schools we want to give students an opportunity to develop commercial skills that will help them start their own enterprises and succeed in the world of business.”

Students worked in teams for five weeks, coming up with their business start-up ideas. They completed market research and developed business plans, which they presented to peers and teachers during the semi-finals in each school.

Having developed teamwork, leadership, communication, project management and networking skills to reach the final, the teams were put to the test in the final at St John the Baptist.

The evening began with students showcasing their ideas at an exhibition, each team preparing a stall and talking to guests from the local area about their ideas.

It culminated in a Dragons’ Den-style business pitch in which the teams presented their ideas to the judges, who examined the proposals still further in a question and answer session and offered advice.

The judges represented a range of interests. Bill Muirhead is the managing director of the Peter Jones Foundation, founded by the longstanding Dragon to promote enterprise within schools; Jack Fettes has an online fitness and wellbeing business and is a well-known social media influencer; and  Glenn Wooldridge is a senior contracts manager for defence company BAe.

The prize for winners was a trophy and certificates, and although they weren’t able to hear the magic words “I’m going to make you an offer”, the team intend to put their business plan into action.

They have already started baking, and, through a mix of family and business contacts, are going to be supplying their ube rolls to local cafés.

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