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For anyone that’s seen the popular TV show Dragons’ Den, entering the Den is one of the scariest experiences that entrepreneurs can face. So imagine what the same experience would be like for 12 and 13-year olds pitching their ideas to a local business person, teachers, and their own year group!

Our Tom recently gave up time to support Rushcliffe School’s Year 8 students with a project that teaches them about pitching, persuasive speech and persuasive language. Here’s how he got on!

I was put in contact with Rushcliffe at the beginning of the year because the school was keen to work with a local business person who could come into the school and teach its year 8 students about persuasive speech, language and pitching.

In their English classes, the students have been working on a group project whereby they come up with an innovative product/idea, and then set about looking at how they would pitch it – the same principle as Dragons’ Den. Each class has studied several clips from the show, to guide them on how they should best pitch their own ideas. It is then up to the groups to consider the advantages of their idea, how much it would cost to make and sell, why people should purchase it and, what sets it apart from anything else on the market. This is where I came in!

As part of our day-to-day work at The Dairy, we have to pitch for new business and sell our services on a regular basis. So, I gave up a day of my time to the school to come in and give talks to the students about the art of pitching and persuasive language. This included dissecting a clip from Dragons Den to demonstrate the techniques, run through a dummy Dairy pitch for context and then, select groups from each form to pitch their ideas to myself and their teachers, in a real-life Dragons Den scenario!

I must say, the ideas, confidence and understanding of business jargon was fantastic. We had ideas for a robotic goalkeeper, a magic pen, a multi-tool device, a smart nappy and a device that allows you to play your Playstation/Xbox games on the move. One group even did a rap in its pitch – it was at that point that I definitely decided to invest!

On a serious note, I must say a massive well done to all year 8 students at Rushcliffe – everyone was very attentive, the levels of participation were fantastic, the ideas churned out by all the groups were innovative, and everyone threw themselves into the project with great enthusiasm.

To ‘enter the Dragons’ Den’ and stand and pitch to a complete stranger and your teachers in front of your peers is no easy feat. Each group that pitched was a credit to the year group and in some cases, I had no option but to ‘invest’ because of the level of detail that had gone into every aspect of the idea and the pitch. I think we definitely discovered some of the entrepreneurs of the future!

I must also thank the staff at Rushcliffe School for inviting me in and throwing themselves with great enthusiasm into the Dragons’ Den scenario in order to help bring it to life.

Keep up the great work Rushcliffe – I look forward to seeing some of you in the real Dragons’ Den in years to come!