Mad Hatters get ahead in student enterprise scheme

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Members of student run company Mad Hatters showed they had heads for business by scooping four accolades at the 11th annual LEAP awards, which recognise budding entrepreneurship amongst West Yorkshire’s secondary school pupils.

LEAP is the Leeds Enterprise Advisory Programme, a social enterprise which enables students to set up their own companies for a school year. The students, aged between 14 and 19, had to raise their own share capital, choose and source a product, write a business plan and market their product.

At the end of the year teams had to present their ‘company’ and its results to a panel of business advisers and prepare an annual report with financial accounts.

Mad Hatters, run by ten Year 12 students from The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), won LEAP’s top prize, the Westcom Networks Award: Best LEAP Enterprise Company 2018, for their hat business. They also won awards for best company report, best trade fair marketing and best company presentation. Their range of hats changed with the seasons – stylish woolly hats in winter, then individually tie-dyed bucket hats as hopes grew of warmer weather.

The students all took positions in the company such as marketing, finance or social media director. Managing director Nathan Rockley said: “Although I knew LEAP would take me outside my comfort zone, it was an opportunity I decided to take as I could only benefit from it. The whole experience has been eye opening for me, showing what a group of friends can achieve through teamwork.”

Other GSAL companies also picked up awards, including:

  • Tekniik – Powerhouse Award for Best Company Website Designed by a LEAP Company and Miles Mount Award for Best Logo
  • Spectrum – Brown Butler Award for Best Administered Company and Powerhouse Award for Best use of Social Media
  • Sulaiman – LEAP Board Highly Commended Special Award (most improved company over the year)
  • Chameleon – individual award to Rohan Karthik (most outstanding company member in the LEAP process)

LEAP chair Steve Webber, managing director of Westcom Networks, said: ‘Each of this year’s teams has achieved a very high standard, although the winning teams really did stand out from the rest of the field.

“The aim of the LEAP programme is to give students practical experience that they can apply in the real world as they undertake public exams and interviews, go onto university, apprenticeships or enter the job market.”

Mad Hatters were one of 18 companies participating in LEAP this year, involving 200 students from five Leeds and Bradford schools.

Photo: Mad Hatters LEAP company: Back (L-R) Andrew Robinson, Robert Southby, Emma Johnson, Gabrielle Jackson and George Piper; Front (L-R) Nathan Rockley, Tom White, Orla Hendron, Anna Tinsley and Manasvi Tyagi

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