Students set for regional competition as venture plants seeds of success

University of Chester students have impressed judges with their carbon-cutting seeded cardboard box venture to win a place in the regional final of a competition championing young enterprise.

The team has been chosen to represent the University at the North West Final of the Young Enterprise (YE) Start-Up Awards. They will compete for a host of awards and the chance to go on to represent the North West at the UK Final.

The students stood out against tough competition with a presentation for ‘A Wild Life’, a business they are developing to offer seeded cardboard boxes as a more sustainable way to package goods.

They were selected from six teams who pitched at a University event to: Suzanne Lockwood from Young Enterprise; Irene Gutierrez Pinilla and Jordan Carabine from Bentley Motors; Paul Gillen, who has worked in senior roles for companies including Oadby Plastics, and Robert Dodson, whose extensive business experience includes Sales/Commercial Director at Nice-Pak International.

All of the students put their business ideas forward as part the Entrepreneurial Thought in Action module, led by Conor Dangerfield and Cheryl Sorensen. The module, in turn, is part of a range of the University Business School’s degrees, and one of the ways students are supported to start their own business and learn the skills of new enterprise management.

The members of the group: Jade McArdle; Eleanor Jones; Demi Evans; Aaron Jones and Josh Sellings, are second year students in Business Management, International Business Management and Events Management undergraduate programmes.

They will represent the University of Chester at the regional YE Final on Wednesday, February 22, at University Academy 92 in Manchester.

Eleanor Jones, Operations Director for A Wild Life, said: “As I do most of my shopping online, I was aware of the amount of packaging that I was receiving. With the desire to become more environmentally-friendly, I developed the idea of sustainable packaging which integrates cardboard with flower or vegetable seeds. This allows consumers to offset their carbon footprint by planting their packaging, allowing new life to grow. I am part of a fantastic team, with each member contributing their own attributes and skills to the project, which has brought this idea to fruition.”

Fellow student and team-member, Demi Evans said: “As the marketing director and as someone who is more creatively inclined, it's been great to offer my skills to the team by visually representing who we are and what we do. My highlights so far have been creating and designing the branding and visuals - logo, website and social content. Not only have my skills developed from this project but from the amazing team I have been able to work with.”

Student Jade McArdle, the venture’s MD, added: “I am passionate about this project as I attended Young Enterprise last year and was really inspired. Eleanor and myself wanted to work together as our styles complement each other well and that was when we founded the team. Lots of ideas for a brand concept/identity came to me. My mind is naturally creative, so it’s been great collaborating with Demi and her marketing skills to bring everything to life.

“As managing director, I have learned a lot about running a business and how to manage tasks and our team. I love having the opportunity to create something completely from scratch and see it develop, and use a range of skills throughout the project.”

A Wild Life was selected after a standout presentation, with the team providing exceptional detail and answers to questions. The judges loved the idea of a sustainable product, designed to tackle climate issues and educate their target market on giving back to the planet.

Lecturer and Joint Module Leader, Conor Dangerfield said: “This year, outstanding groups have stepped forward with a diverse range of products and ideas. This resulted in a tough choice for judges, in deciding who was going to represent the University of Chester at this year’s Young Enterprise regional event. Both myself and Cheryl are immensely proud of the students who participated and who continue to build their own companies.

“A Wild Life epitomises the brand that they aspire to enter the market with, every member has gone above and beyond to deliver this from a simple idea to an up-and-coming business venture. This includes difficult negotiations with manufacturers, resulting in an initial sample product, a detailed marketing plan illustrating their brand and values throughout, strategic plans to diversify their product range and well-informed financial projections to support their company’s growth.

“The Business School and University community should be very proud of all the students involved and the efforts that they have made to represent authentic entrepreneurial endeavours.”

Cheryl Sorensen, Lecturer and Joint Module Leader, added: “Congratulations to A Wild Life for making it through to the regional finals - and to all of our Entrepreneurial Thought in Action module students for their continued hard work, engagement and commitment to entrepreneurship, and for showcasing their exceptional business ideas which wowed the judges on the panel.”

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