In July, La Trobe Business School proudly hosted the ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch It!” competition as part of La Trobe University’s Outreach Programme for secondary school students. This is an important event, supported by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), through which LBS provides VCE students with opportunities to actively participate in entrepreneurial activities, experience university, connect with their peers, and meet with academics and industry professionals.
After dreaming up an idea for a business or product, either individually or in teams of two or three, business management students in secondary schools in Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga learnt how to outline, develop and complete a full business plan as part of the VCE curriculum. Complementing the year 11 VCE curriculum, La Trobe University’s ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it! competition asked the business students to submit their completed business plans and pitch their ideas to groups of roving judges consisting of industry professionals and La Trobe University academics and students during a showcase event.
In Melbourne, this year’s winning initiative was a family friendly café by the name of ‘Bean here before?’ offering custumers family-oriented activities and free Wi-Fi. The second prize went to ‘XOXO Cosmetics’, an online platform to sell overseas make-up brands at a better price than they sell for in Australian retail.
This year’s winner in Albury-Wodonga focussed on beauty as well. Students pitched an idea called ‘Beneath the skin,’ a beauty tips forum that doubled as a mental health initiative by creating a safe environment for women to connect and seek guidance from each other. By selling monthly subscription beauty boxes, the organisations would be able to raise funds for the initiative.
The runner up was ‘Ask Hygiene’, where the students wanted to ensure that every primary and secondary school bathroom would be equipped with a vending machine stocked with sanitary items.
“We were delighted to see so many business ideas that focussed on the local community this year,” La Trobe University’s School Partnership Advisor Jenny Snelling said. “We had several student groups thinking up initiatives catering to more vulnerable groups in society like people disadvantaged by homelessness, or thinking of ways that families in their local community could meet up and connect.”
For students, the competition is a great opportunity to put theory into practice and learn how to identify a demand in their direct environment. One student pitched a business idea that saw him opening a retro-style barber shop, where men could go to get their hair cut, rent a suit, and get their shoes shined. Other students had completed full prototypes to strengthen their pitch. “It’s refreshing to see how these students choose to tackle a gap in the market and use their creative imagination to bring the idea to life,” Jenny Snelling said.
For competing students, the competition allows them to peak behind the veil of the business world and be exposed to an industry they might want to work in once they graduate: “The ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it’ program delivered by La Trobe University provided a fantastic opportunity for our students to experience the world of business and all that a career in business may offer,” high school teacher Alison Leahy said. “Our students were inspired and challenged as they created ideas, developed business plans, worked with mentors and pitched and presented their finished products and services. We really appreciate all the support and mentorship provided and highly recommend participation in this program to other schools.”
“The day really brought the theory to life,” a Melbourne teacher commented. “Students were able to apply their skill and knowledge in a practical manner that made the subject relevant and enjoyable.”
For students, the opportunity was engaging if not a little nerve-racking: “Needless to say we were all very nervous and excited, as we didn’t know what to expect on the day. We were very impressed by the efforts of the other students from the other schools involved in the program!”
“I thought this was a great experience and I’m so happy that I got the chance to participate in it,” Business Management student Katelyn Hart said. “I learnt all the steps you are supposed to go through to make your own business; including all the elements you have to think about. Going into this planning process, I was under the impression that it wouldn’t be that difficult. However, because of the amount of work you have to put in, it was somewhat harder than I expected. But I would still recommend this ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it’ program to future years!”
Business Management Student Steph Lauria also saw it as a chance to connect with her peers: “It was a great opportunity to share my passion for my business with others, as well as seeing other student’s business ideas and how they put their ideas into action,” she commented.
LBS is already looking forward to the 2017 competition and would to thank Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) for their generous support this year.