Staff from some of Scotland’s best-known companies and high school pupils are set to battle it out in the Inverness and Aberdeen heats of a business competition that raises funds for Scotland’s national children’s charity, Children 1st.
Aberdeen Asset Management, Entier, LifeScan, Wood Group PSN, Simmons and Company International and Gordonstoun School have all fielded teams in this year’s Dragons’ Glen, Scotland’s entrepreneurial challenge for businesses.
Each team has been tasked with developing a fundraising idea to turn an investment of £500 into a profit of £5,000 or more. Last month, the teams pitched their ideas to a panel of Dragons, some of Scotland’s most influential business leaders. The Aberdeen and Inverness Dragons include Duncan Skinner, from Glencraft, Ingrid Stewart, from EnerMech, James Crawford, from Wood Group PSN, Colin Manderson, from Board Cairn Services, Jim Halliday, from The Value Proposition, and Ian Forsyth, from DP Digital Media.
The team’s ideas include a children’s safety book, high-value hampers, innovative cable guards, Aberdeen-themed cook book, winter car safety kit, Inverness-inspired calendar as well as a host of exciting fundraising events.
Louise Sutherland, from Children 1st, said: “The teams have come up with a huge variety of ideas that have really got the Dragons fired up for this year’s challenge. We’re looking forward to seeing their ideas come to life and raise much-needed funds for Children 1st.”
Each team will be supported by a Dragon, who will mentor them during the five-month challenge to bring their ideas to life and raise money for Children 1st. Across Scotland, 17 teams are taking part and pitches have also taken place in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.
This week, we caught up with the team from Simmons & Co having now been into the dragons’ den.
Aimee Colebrook, Amy Gordon, Melanie Gilmour, Gavin Loudfoot, John Hamilton, Craig Shand and Juan Uribe.
Simmons & Co
HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT DRAGONS’ GLEN? AND WHY DID YOU WANT TO ENTER?
The opportunity to enter a team was brought to us by one of the managing directors of our firm and all seven of us volunteered to be a part of it. We chose to enter to support the work of Children 1st, raise awareness, and generate a meaningful amount of money for the charity, while also having fun and showing our entrepreneurial flair. We’ve set our sights high and want to take home the title of 2016 Dragons’ Glen winner.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
We have produced a local recipe book, A Taste of Aberdeen, which features recipes donated by some of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s leading restaurants and bars. We have 37 restaurants on board, each providing a selection of starters, main courses, desserts and cocktails. There really is something for everyone and we are confident that we’ve captured most, if not all, of Aberdeen’s top eateries. We spent a lot of time brainstorming various ideas, but we settled on something that was high quality, tangible, related to food and drink, and would be ready in time for Christmas.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE DOING THE PITCH BEFORE THE DRAGONS?
We spent a lot of time preparing for the pitch, to ensure that we had covered all areas and answered all obvious questions. The pitch went smoothly and our idea was well received by the Dragons. It was a relief to get the go-ahead and proceed to finalise our book. Ingrid Stewart, corporate development director at Enermech, was selected as our Dragon and will be our mentor through to the end of the challenge in March 2016.
HOW HAS YOUR PRODUCT BEEN RECEIVED SO FAR?
We’ve received a number of pre-orders for our book, which is available to buy now. We have ordered an initial batch of 1,000 books and we are confident that we will be able to sell these through local shops, online, our own personal and professional networks, social media and Christmas events.
A number of the restaurants involved have also volunteered to take some books off our hands to sell to customers on the lead-up to Christmas. Books are priced at a minimum donation of £15 each and can be pre-ordered by contacting DragonsGlen@simmonsco-intl.co.uk
HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THE PROJECT OVERALL?
We are looking forward to getting our hands on our finished product and really push sales, in order to raise as much money as possible for Children 1st. We successfully raised £4,300 from a fashion show fundraiser to cover our print and design costs in full, so that’s taken off some of the pressure.
To find out more about Dragons’ Glen, please visit www.children1st.org.uk/dragons-glen