Next generation of Newport entrepreneurs enter the Dragons’ Den

The next generation of entrepreneurs were put to the test this week with a series of business challenges at an event in the University of South Wales in Pontypridd.

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The Business Class Dragons’ Den event, held in collaboration with Careers Wales, Business in the Community Cymru (BITC Cymru) and the University of South Wales Exchange, saw Year 12 pupils from five schools go head-to-head to present a business idea to a panel of judges in a Dragons’ Den-style pitch.

The event was the culmination of a series of Business Class competitions designed to challenge teams to develop and present a business idea as part of the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate (WBQ) Enterprise Element to help improve their understanding of business, as well as linking them with industry experts to support them through the process.

In previous stages, students were asked to work with a business mentor to come up with a product concept and work through all the stages needed to take the business idea to the marketplace, including developing a brief, market research, product design and testing, finance and costings and marketing, advertising and promotion.  Five schools from the cluster were then chosen to go compete in the final, including Caerleon Comprehensive School, John Frost High School, Llanwern High School, Newport High School and St Julian’s School.

Judged by Debra Williams, chair of Careers Wales, Jordan Phillips, co-founder of digital marketing agency 11: FiftyNine and Paul Brown, Big Ideas (Wales) manager, the teams had to pitch their concept to demonstrate their business and marketing strategy, the skills they used to accomplish each task, and what they learned from the challenge.

The groups were judged on their design, team work, and presentation, with ‘Head Support’ from Caerleon Comprehensive announced as the overall winners at the end of the day. Their premium head support designed to improve comfort on Business Class flights blew away the Dragons, all of whom were impressed by the demonstration of the prototype and the feasibility of the business model.

Shirley Rogers, Director of Service Delivery at Careers Wales, said: “By bringing this cluster of schools together, our aim was to provide pupils with the opportunity to take part in business activities which enabled them to develop personal and professional skills. 

“The activities also helped to increase their knowledge of digital marketing and its application to the workplace, by developing an understanding of all the tools used in technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.“By working side-to-side and interacting with a range of businesses, pupils had the opportunity to ask them about their sectors and the range career paths available to them.”

Matt Appleby, Director of Business in the Community Cymru, added: “Clusters of Business Class partnerships across Wales are creating some fantastic opportunities for young people to truly get to grips with how businesses operate. Getting on in the jobs market is about so much more than academic success, as this exercise today has shown. The pupils have demonstrated the need for marketing skills, technological expertise, the ability to present and the need to answer questions nimbly.  

“Business Class partnerships teach tomorrow’s workforce what businesses need, and clusters ensure that a vast pool of knowledge is shared for the benefit of businesses and their future employees.”

Phil Meredith, Head of Welsh Baccalaureate (WBQ) at Caerleon Comprehensive School said: "The students from Caerleon have been superb from start to finish in developing this product. The level of maturity and professionalism shown has been remarkable. 

“They have put a huge number of hours in to develop the idea and to build a working prototype.  We are all very proud of their achievements and they are a huge credit to themselves and to the school.  A bright and prosperous future awaits".

Careers Wales gives advice in both Welsh and English and for further information and to access their services, you can search online for or follow them on Twitter @CareersWales or on Facebook under


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