Savvy students enter Dragons’ Den with a ‘Splash’

April 29, 2013

by Christine Keighery

A group of young entrepreneurs from St. Joseph’s High School, Crossmaglen have wowed the panel of RTE’s Dragon’s Den with their Young Enterprise Business- “Splash.” As part of the school’s COPE (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness) programme, ten lower sixth students, along with their teachers Paul Mulholland and Noreen McMahon created the business to supply personalised re-usable sports water bottles to schools, businesses and sporting clubs. The company has already secured orders from local primary schools and football clubs.

In December last year, Splash achieved the award for Best Product at the Young Enterprise Trade Fair in Banbridge. The pupils continued on their path to success, becoming the only representatives from Northern Ireland, and the only school, to make it through to the final twenty entrants to present their project to a panel of judges at the Gibson Hotel, Dublin for the All-Ireland final of Junior Dragons Den.

The students, who had seen off a number of businesses and young enterprise groups to get this far in the Bank of Ireland sponsored competition, were commended on having an excellent product and business model and were selected to pitch their idea to the Dragons on RTE’s Dragons’ Den television programme.

Crossmaglen girls Shannon Savage and Joanne Loy made their TV debut as representatives of Splash on Sunday night’s Dragons’ Den, delivering an impressive pitch to the dragons. Although the group missed out on investment from the dragons, they were highly commended for their preparation and hard work and were urged by the business experts to continue to develop the business and return to the den for another chance to pitch for funding.

Mr Paul Mulholland – Head of Technology and Design at St. Joseph’s and COPE Co-ordinator, commended the students on their “massive achievement in such a prestigious event” and complimented the Bank of Ireland on taking the initiative to run the Junior Dragons’ Den Ireland competition.

“It has provided a platform for our students to expand their entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills which they have developed through the COPE Level 3 Course and Young Enterprise” said Mr Mulholland.

“Although the students did not receive investment from the dragons, our success this year in reaching the All-Ireland Final in the competition has surpassed our expectations. They represented the school extremely well and we are very proud of them.

Head of Sixth Form, Mrs Noreen McMahon added: “Dragons’ Den and indeed the involvement in Young Enterprise as part of a level 3 COPE programme is further testimony to the many and varied activities that students of St Joseph’s are given the opportunity to partake in.“It has been very encouraging working with these students watching them grow in confidence as their Company developed. They learned to work as part of a team and face the everyday difficulties and challenges that businesses face in the real world. I look forward to watching these budding entrepreneurs employ the skills they have learned from this experience as they continue with ‘A’ level studies and advance to University in 2014.”

Proud Principal, Mr Kevin Scally, also had high praise for the Splash students: “St. Joseph’s High School is very proud of the students who participated in the Junior Dragons’ Den competition. This is an extremely prestigious competition and it is a great honour for the school to have students participating at this level.

“Our entrepreneurial students had the opportunity to present their business idea and pitch for investment. The fact that they succeeded in getting to the final stages of the competition showed that they have a viable and profitable business idea.”

The school would like to pay special thanks to Dearbhla McCoy of DMC Design, Noreen McCann and Sean Shehan from the Bank of Ireland, Noel Lennon of Lennon Lines, Joanne Mallon of YENI, Stephen Kernan, the Company’s business advisor, Peter McMahon, Martin Casey and Michael McBride for their help, support and commitment since the journey began in October 2012.