Four teams of aspiring entrepreneurs from colleges across the Cheshire region battled it out in a Dragons’ Den-style competition hosted by Reaseheath College in Nantwich.

The Cheshire & Warrington Skills Business Competition, the result of a collaboration between Reaseheath College, Warrington & Vale Royal College, Macclesfield College and Cheshire College South & West, aims to give business students the opportunity to showcase their skills in an industry setting.

The competition challenged student teams to develop innovative solutions for a common festival problem: mountains of abandoned tents, chairs, and other equipment left behind by attendees. The students were tasked with creating a business plan to address the environmental and financial burden of discarded festival gear and then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Their presentations, delivered in the format of ‘Dragons’ Den’, demonstrated a range of creative upcycling and reuse concepts.

  • Reaseheath College presented Basket Barrows, an idea for transforming chairs, tents, and other items into rentable or purchasable festival carts
  • Cheshire College South & West proposed a social enterprise called Building Hope, which uses salvaged and upcycled festival gear to create care packages for homeless individuals
  • Macclesfield College developed the Green Market app, a platform to grade, upcycle (if necessary), and resell used festival equipment at discounted prices
  • Warrington & Vale Royal College impressed with RE-Labelled, a project that transforms leftover festival items into unique, upcycled clothing and accessories

Reaseheath College clinched the win, with its team of Max Stapleton, Courtney Dodd, Megan Lowe and Ben Williams receiving a trophy and gift vouchers. Runner up position was awarded to Macclesfield College’s Lewis Daffy, Josh Bibby, Finn Timmis and Kayne Jones. Very little separated the top two teams from Cheshire College South & West’s Jack Johnson, Anya Wilkinson-Titus, Isla Buckley and Charlie Taylor Robinson and Warrington & Vale Royal College, represented by Tia Jolley, Rebecca Hitchmough, Rachel Francis and Emily Flannery.

All contestants were applauded for their approach and delivery of the task and received certificates of achievement, while business students Lauren Salmon and Amy Arrowsmith, who volunteered to help at the event, received ‘Shining Star Helper’ commendations for their support.

Presenting the awards, Reaseheath Assistant Principal John Kendal, who was on the judging panel, said that he and his colleagues had been particularly impressed by the level of innovation displayed by the students.

He commented: “The competition revealed a remarkable level of entrepreneurial spirit amongst all the participating teams. Each group demonstrated distinct strengths in their approaches, and the overall quality of the presentations was truly impressive.

“The Cheshire & Warrington Skills Business Competition is testament to the talent and creativity of budding entrepreneurs in the region. The innovative ideas presented by the students offer promising solutions for tackling waste and promoting sustainability within the festival industry.”

Max Stapleton, who is studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Business, Events and Tourism at Reaseheath said: “We were thrilled to win. This competition gave us a great opportunity to develop our business skills and make a positive impact on the environment. We worked really well as a team and were pleased that the judges felt they could see our Basket Barrows idea rolling into festivals in the future.”

Reaseheath’s Programme Leader for Food and Business, Jonathan Gateley, who organised the competition, said: “We were delighted to host this competition, which was designed to take the students out of their comfort zones and bring out the best of their business understanding, team work, forward planning and time management skills. They all proved they could be outstanding entrepreneurs of the future.”

Business is one of a number of categories in the Cheshire & Warrington Skills Competition, which are run by the collaborating colleges with the aim of developing industry skills, confidence and life experiences in students. Other categories include automotives, construction, creative digital media, sport and hair and beauty.