Teams in final of tycoon’s contest

Whitley Bay High School's Year 11 student Kara Riall at her CakeKara stall, part of the enterprise competition Tycoon in Schools.
Whitley Bay High School's Year 11 student Kara Riall at her CakeKara stall, part of the enterprise competition Tycoon in Schools.

Two teams of entrepreneurs from a school have made it through to the national final of a Dragon’s Den star’s competition.

The teams, made up of three students at Whitley Bay High School, will attend a ceremony at Buckingham Palace this month after reaching the final of Peter Jones’ Tycoon in Schools competition.

Judges and Mr Jones were impressed by Year 11 student Kara Riall’s CakeKara, selling lavishly designed baked goods, while sixth formers George Peterson and Finley Stewart, of Mount, impressed with specialised hand-made cruiser skateboards.

They will be joined in London by eight other groups looking to be crowned overall winners and pick up £1,000 in prizemoney.

The school’s business teacher Ben Cox said: “We are really proud of the teams’ achievements to make it to through the final. To have two teams make it through to the final is really special.”

“The students showed fantastic entrepreneurial skills throughout the competition and have gained a tremendous insight into what it is like to run your own business.

“We hope that this is just the start of what will be a very bright future in business for the teams.”

Tycoon in Schools sees schoolchildren pitch an idea to their teachers, receiving a loan of up to £1,000 from the charity to get their companies up and running.

At the close of a seven-week trading period at the end of last year, CakeKara and Mount had secured second and fourth place respectively in a profit league of almost 200 teams.

Mr Jones said: “I’ve been completely blown away by the standard of entries in this year’s competition and deciding who should go through to the final has not been easy.

“I’ve been very impressed with Mount throughout the challenge. They combine real artistic talent with great sales and administrative skills.

“CakeKara has taken the traditional bake sale to a whole new level – her designs are brilliant and her branding is first class.”

Kara, 16, said: “My business idea was to bake weird and wonderful creations at an affordable price that both tasted and looked good. Sticking to my initial plans I offered a range of cakes, cupcakes and cookies to my consumers.

“Although trading for the competition has ended, I am still busy making and taking orders for cakes that will further develop my creativity, which has grown throughout the competition.”

Close friends George and Finley sold their custom-built decks as both wall art and fully-functional skateboards.

They are now working to perfect their products with an Oslo-based designer.

George, 16, said: “We decided to join the competition because we saw this as the perfect opportunity to start getting our proposition from the planning phase into a test phase.

“We knew that if we did well enough, it would definitely help us understand what we needed to launch our business.

“We’ve learnt so many skills and lessons through the competition as well.

“One personal lesson for me was developing my sales skills. At the start, I was slightly too excited, which came across as aggressive and pushy, so I toned it down and turned that excitement into a way to convince people to buy our product.”

As well as competing for the overall top spot – for which the winners will receive £1,000 investment prize money – Mount and CakeKara will be up against two other teams for first place in their separate key stage categories.