Meriden girls budding entrepreneurs

6 August 2020

Year 10 student, Yvonne Lin, wrote the following report about her experience participating in the invitational Young Entrepreneurs Program with fellow Meriden student, Shirley Wang. The program culminated in a pitching competition at which Yvonne’s group and their business idea was awarded the grand prize in the Sydney event. Her team went on to successfully compete in the Global Competition with young entrepreneurs from around the world.

Earlier this year, Shirley and I applied for, and were accepted into, the Young Entrepreneurs Program run by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). The program offers a series of workshops to high school students where the students learn how to come up with a good business idea and then build a business plan around it.

We were allocated to different groups so we could work with students from different schools. I was fortunate to be allocated to a group with two other hardworking students. Over the four months that we worked together on a business plan, my group developed strong and genuine friendships.

In March, we attended four workshops where we learnt different entrepreneurial skills related to sales and marketing, finance and presentation which we applied to our business idea. We also had weekly mentoring sessions from entrepreneurs working in our chosen industry. Later, each group pitched their business idea to a panel of judges in a pitching competition that was held in the first week of the July school holidays.

My group’s business, Incandescence, is a beauty company that values sustainability, veganism and cruelty-free products. The word ‘incandescence’ is derived from Latin, meaning “to glow” which is a popular skincare goal. The main problem we wanted to address is that our society produces and discards huge amounts of plastic in everyday items such as skincare and cosmetics. The cosmetics industry uses 76.8 billion units of plastic per year and, of that, seventy per cent ends up in landfill. Our solution is a cleanser pod that substitutes plastic packaging for a polyvinyl alcohol coating which is soluble in water and safe for use on skin. Each pod contains the recommended product amount for one usage which aids convenience, hygiene, cost and sustainability.

On the day of the pitching competition, six strong teams presented their business ideas to three judges who are themselves successful entrepreneurs. Their judgement was based on customer validation, execution/demonstration, iteration, product market fit, business model, evidence of teamwork, the presentation itself and responses to judges’ questions. Three awards were presented - Best Lean Canvas, Best Teamwork and the Overall Winners. My team was fortunate to be announced the Overall Winners of TiE’s Young Entrepreneur Program Sydney 2020.

Originally, the winning team was to travel to Seattle in the USA to attend the Global Competition. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to travel, so the Global Competition was held via Zoom on 17 and 18 July at 11:00pm Sydney time. Twenty-four teams from around the world competed in the event and each team pre-filmed a ten-minute pitch and a minute-long elevator pitch for their business, which was followed by question time from the judges. My team was awarded the prize for teamwork, which was one of six prizes given. Overall, the program offered an amazing experience to develop my creativity, teamwork and entrepreneurial skills while making connections with industry professionals.