Last week saw a Dragons Den style event take place at the head office of leading paper merchant, Antalis in Leicestershire, with nine young entrepreneurs pitching their marketing ideas to a formidable line-up of dragons in the hope that they would be selected to put their ideas into practice. The twist in the tale was that all the candidates who stepped up to the challenge are currently taking part in a unique #nolimits programme, created by Commercial Group, which supports disadvantaged young people in changing their current life circumstances.
The Dragon’s Den day was the latest module of the programme. It has been six months in the making as longstanding partners, Commercial and Antalis, explored ways to develop their shared values relating to social impact, supporting and creating lasting change for disadvantaged young people. Mark Browne, Sign & Display Support Manager at Antalis, has passionately championed these values which is key component of the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy.
He commented: “The #nolimits programme provides the perfect opportunity to encourage young people to learn new skills, collaborate and present a viable business idea. Seeing young people in action as they presented their ideas confidently reinforced what we’re all working towards – providing the perfect environment for people to shine.”
Commercial Group launched WE DO. Print as part of its social enterprise Commercial Foundations in May 2015. Today, a year on, WE DO. Print has seen over 27 young people complete the #nolimits programme, providing 6 months of personalised support. With 63% going on to apprenticeships, employment and further education. The Dragon’s Den format provided the perfect platform for the group of nine young people, aged between 17 and 23, to pitch their marketing campaign product ideas to Antalis and Commercial Group, including Co-founding Director of Commercial Foundations, Simone Hindmarch-Bye.
Three teams, Team Antalis Assemble, Team #POP – Print On Point and Team We Do. Sweet, presented in 15 minute slots and answered a variety of questions about their product ideas. According to Simone Hindmarch-Bye, presenting to senior managers within a corporate setting such as Antalis encouraged the young people to step out their comfort zone.
She continued: “It is without question that the teams felt nervous but having prepared for four weeks they all delivered outstanding performances. This approach to challenging and stretching young people is core to the #nolimits programme. As a result young people choose to ‘be the change’ on a daily basis proving they are creative, passionate individuals with the potential to become valued employees within any organisation.”
Matthew (19), from the winning team, shared the highlights of his visit to Antalis and pitch experience: “I really enjoyed looking around Antalis’s facilities including the warehouse. It was great learning about sign making, the 3D printer and of course presenting to the dragons. I was nervous but I’m glad I did it.”