Every year at Greenfield School, once our Year 6 children have completed their exams and secured their senior school places, they are faced with a long-anticipated challenge: Dragon’s Den.
We are always looking for new and exciting ways to challenge our students and encourage them to develop practical skills. The Dragon’s Den challenge is simple: create your own product or service – then pitch it to the “Dragons”- our Headmistress, Mrs. Botting; our Head of Marketing and Communications, Mrs. Pepe; and our Deputy Head, Mr. Brown. Each year we increase the challenge as the Year 6 children continue to impress us with their presentations and ideas, and last year we set their biggest challenge yet – the children’s business plans would actually be put into production. The children are now tasked with conducting market research, forecasting sales, researching a chosen charity, creating marketing, designing packaging, pitching to the dragons, coming up with offers and sales techniques, and then finally setting up their stalls. It is a fantastic opportunity for the Year 6s to put their skills to the test and see their ideas come to life – and every penny raised in profit goes to the children’s chosen charities.
Taking on the Challenge
In their randomly-selected teams of boys and girls, the hard work begins from the outset: coming up with a viable business idea that would not only attract sales but also be profitable once production costs had been taken into account. Once an idea is in place, each team chooses a specific charity that they are hoping to raise funds for – this will be included in their pitch to the Dragons, as well as the resources that their expected total will provide for their charity. The children then start on their market research: conducting surveys in the playground to understand the demand for their product, the best price points, and if any of their ideas that might need rethinking.
Once the teams have their ideas in place, it’s time to work on the prototypes and the sales pitches.
Each team must illustrate their reasoning behind their chosen business, as well as demonstrating the results of their market research and how the insights have been implemented. The children also show their financial breakdown – calculating the exact amount for production, and how much they require to start to bulk-manufacture their ideas. Working on these figures, the children estimate their forecasted earnings and explain to the Dragons what their profits would mean for their chosen charity.
But as the name suggests, the Dragons are no pushovers – with the children putting so much effort and thought into creating a viable business idea, it is only fair that their potential benefactors respond in kind. Assessing their prototypes, checking their figures, and raising any potential obstacles, the Dragons keep the children on their toes with their questions. Fortunately, the children are well-prepared and immersed in their business idea that they are able to take the queries in their stride. Often, the Dragons will come up with new ideas or amendments to each team’s stall: for example, ideas to implement in case their stock runs out; suggestions to make their offering as varied and dynamic as possible; and most importantly, ideas to make certain that the teams can meet their expected profit.
Race to Final Production
The products and services on offer at our 2023 Dragon’s Den marketplace were incredibly varied, ranging from finger puppet toys, joke books and potted plants, as well as plenty of games and challenges with prizes to be won. Each team had to work within their budget given by the Dragons and ensure that after returning their investment, that they could still raise a significant amount for their charities. Expecting purchases from over 200 children with pocket money, plus staff and parents with grown-up wallets, the children raced to produce and perfect their market stalls before launch day.
So How Did They Get On?
The day of the marketplace was a hive of activity, with students rushing around setting up their stalls and making final preparations. The Year 6 children took on the salesperson role in their stride and could be found dotted around the hall, persuading customers to visit their stall. For the entire morning, the school hall was filled with the excited chatter of children and parents, all eager to see what our budding entrepreneurs had to offer.
It was wonderful to see the students’ confidence and enthusiasm as they interacted with customers and made sales. Many of them even managed to exceed their sales targets, proving that their hard work and dedication had paid off.
Meet The Teams
Team ‘Super Stars’
Who? Ben, Dhruva, Emma, Louis and Willow.
What are they selling? Fun paper stars or transforming ninja stars as a fidget toys – there were plenty of designs, colours and sizes to choose from, with items ranging from 20p to 75p.
What’s their USP? All toys were handmade entirely from paper – no tape or glue required, therefore they are fully recyclable. They offered a range of bundles and deals, including buy 3 get one half price, buy 5 get a free gift box, etc.
Total Profit: £177.20
Where is the money going? LinkAble – one of the team’s siblings receives support from LInkAble so they wanted to choose a charity close to their heart.
Team ‘Finger Friends’
Who? Isla, Roy, Scarlett, Prisha, Ziad and Sachin.
What are they selling? Cute finger puppets from a range of colourful characters. Puppets sold for £1.00 each, as well as limited edition storybooks featuring the puppet characters on sale for 50p each.
What’s their USP? For every 29 puppets they sold, the team donated one to the Learning Enrichment department at Greenfield. Also, several of their dog character puppets featured a miniature harness, inspired by their charity.
Total Profit: £188.87
Where is the money going? Support Dogs.
Team ‘Game On’
Who? Olivia, Dana, Krishna, Maëli, Sean and Mohammed-Ahmad.
What are they selling? Turns at one of their two games stations, to test your throwing or bowling prowess! The more pins or cans knocked down, the bigger the prizes. Players paid £1.50 for three turns at a game, and prizes included sweets, keychains and plushies.
What’s their USP? All equipment used for the games was recyclable; and there were no “losers” – children received a sticker even if they didn’t win a game.
Total Profit: £189.81
Where is the money going? With family and friends in mind, the team chose Macmillan Cancer Support.
Team ‘Pot ‘n’ Plant
Who? Chloe, Edward, Kseniia, Meghan, Phoebe and Thomas.
What are they selling? Decorated plant pots with a different seedling to choose from: basil, mint, watercress, cornflower and morning glory. The children sourced 8cm pots, compost and seed packets and sold their pots for £1.00 each.
What’s their USP? The pots and paints used were biodegradable, so every plant pot sold was fully biodegradable and compostable.
Total Profit: £192.92
Where is the money going? UNICEF – chosen in support of families of Ukraine during the war; one of the team is Ukrainian and they collectively wanted to support her country.
Team ‘Colourful Comedy’
Who? Benji, Ella, Fred, Jasmijn, Owen and Saim.
What are they selling? A joke book featuring a variety of categories, including “dad jokes”, “school jokes” and even fun colouring pages for the much younger children. Joke books were £1.50 each and adults also had the option of purchasing ‘A Joke A Day In May’ for £5.00 – where every single day in May they receive a new joke in their inbox.
What’s their USP? With only paper and digital jokes used, all their stock was recyclable and eco-friendly.
Total Profit: £510.00
Where is the money going? Dementia UK – this team wanted to think specifically about mental health and making other people smile with their business plan, so their chosen charity helps those who are suffering and hopes to bring more joy and peace to people with dementia.
Team ‘Twisted Tombola’
Who? Edi, Feyi, Hollie, Josh, Mya, Oscar
What are they selling? Entries to a lucky dip tombola for a chance to win prizes including sweets, toys and wine (for adult participants only!). Prizes were received through donations. Tickets were 50p each or £1.00 for 3 tickets.
What’s their USP? Starred tickets also are eligible for a mystery prize!
Total Profit: A whopping £564.44!
Where is the money going? Disasters Emergency committee to help others in crisis overseas – chosen because one of their team has family in Turkey and has been affected by the earthquake.
Developing Skills for Life
In total, the children raised an outstanding £1823.24 for their charities. It was heartening to see our students using their skills and creativity to think on their feet and try to make a positive difference in the world, and we are incredibly proud of their achievements. Their attention to detail and creativity during the process allowed each team to keep costs extremely low, therefore the amount of profit left for charity was at an all-time high! Children are the pioneers of the future, and events like the Dragons Den challenge are a fantastic way to allow them to take risks, think laterally and improve their decision-making and problem-solving skills. We can’t wait to see what our students come up with next year!