Students Growing a GrowBox Business

Building a business from scratch isn’t easy, especially if you’re a teenager. But a group of Sixth Form students at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School have given it a go.

As part of the Young Enterprise Programme, twenty-one students are putting together businesses. The businesses they created are real businesses with legal responsibilities and public liability insurance. With the support of business advisor Neil Tubman, who is a small business owner in the software consultancy industry, students had to raise share capital, set up a business bank account, design and market their product, and eventually pay VAT and company tax.

One of the companies created is ECOG. Savannah Foster (18), is the Managing Director of the company and explained what ECOG is all about “ECOG stands for Easy Compact Organic Gardening. We set out to create an environmentally friendly self-watering plant box that was aesthetically pleasing and a convenient method of growing vegetables and plants. In part, we wanted to promote healthy eating, but mainly we were looking for a way to give busy working people the opportunity to grow things easily. ” Every step in the creation of their business has been driven by teamwork. Savannah is part of a dedicated and enthusiastic team of eleven students who each have their own individual roles in making ECOG a success.

The Operations Management department is made up of Joshua Cornelius and Joyce Ip, and it was from them that the original concept for a self-watering plant box, GrowBox, originated. Joshua, a Sixth Form boarder, said of the beginnings of the business, “I do Product Design as one of my A Levels and I had an idea for this box, which was originally much bigger. I put it to the group and we fine-tuned the idea until we arrived at a design that we were happy with.” Joshua built a prototype and, after conducting market research, things started coming together.

Initially, the group had difficulties with time management, and a lot of effort was spent in making sure that the product functioned properly. Now, every aspect of the business is seen to, including finances, marketing, sales, human resources and information technology. So far they have managed to sell ten GrowBoxes, an accomplishment for a group of teenagers with no previous business experience.

Students will have the opportunity to take part in local and regional Young Enterprise competitions, and will join a UK wide alumni network at the end of their project. The Young Enterprise liaising teacher at the School is Allen Ernest, Head of Business Studies. He said of the project, “The group has weekly business meetings to work on their company and product. The amount of work they have put into building their business is a testament to how seriously they take being part of the Young Enterprise project. Being this involved in setting up a business has taught our students valuable communication and organisation skills, as well as helping them to further understand the financial obligations and legal liabilities of running a business. It has been a great success, not only because our students have created a very good product, but because they have got so much out of working together.”

07 March 2016

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