London Met's Big Idea Challenge Bootcamp returns in style

The Bootcamp saw schools from across London come together to take part in the entrepreneurial competition.

Date: 15 March 2023

London Met welcomed over 70 students from 11 local schools and colleges to its annual Big Idea Challenge Bootcamp at NatWest’s building on Cheapside, London, on Monday. The competition is one of the University's biggest annual events,and one of the largest competitions of its kind for young people in London. 

The Big Idea Challenge (BIC) business competition is run by London Met’s Outreach and Widening Participation Team with support from the business incubator Accelerator and supported by companies including NatWest and Lucidica.  

Teenagers from across London took part in the day, where they received expert advice on what's involved in starting a business. They worked with experts and mentors to develop their own business ideas and work on their pitching skills and were encouraged to think about the various aspects of a business plan - from customer needs, to marketing, to financial planning - under the guidance of experienced mentors.  

Nick Howe, Regional Enterprise Manager at NatWest, has been with the Big Idea Challenge since its inception. “We’ve been delighted to partner with London Met for the Big Idea Challenge for nine years now. It’s important to try and help and support the next generation of entrepreneurs and amplify the skills that aren’t always featured in the curriculum, particularly the skills that employers and business owners are looking for. It’s a great chance to bring people out of their comfort zone to experience something a little bit different that builds on their learning.” 

Developing key entrepreneurial skills

The day began with a game of ‘Human Bingo’ which loosened up the slightly nervous crowd before they went into the morning session which took the students through their initial business idea development. Before long, the students had shed any nerves and started to interact and collaborate with peers across the different schools.  

The afternoon session involved practice pitching and a workshop from an entrepreneurial expert who coached the students through various presentation styles and shaped their ideas into fully fledged ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitches.  

Ginny Radmall, an expert from London-based presentation coaching company The Ivy Way said: “We work to help the students feel confident, and to get rid of any pre-game nerves. We teach them breathing skills and how to use their voice so that they come out the other end sounding passionate, energised, and excited. It’s about channelling and harnessing their energy so that when they present, they come across exactly how they want to.” 

The students were then invited to perform their pitch to the entire audience. Students who had started the day nervously whispering amongst their own groups were now clapping, whooping, and shouting in support for each presenting team. As Daniyal and Bilal from Waltham Forest College said, the day was “a chance to socialise with other schools, but also a great opportunity to learn to express yourself clearly.” 

Steven Kern, teacher at Hampstead Fine Arts College is a big supporter of the BIC. “It’s important not just for students with business aspirations, but also for fashion and art students. Enterprise is all encapsulating, and that the skills they learn today are transferable to whatever careers the students want. I have seen first-hand the development of our learners through this experience. It’s championed their ideas, boosted self-confidence, developed their aspirations, but also, it’s a fun and engaging activity that they will always remember.” 

Opportunities for collaboration

Schools & Colleges Outreach Officer Mandy Malcolm organised the event. “It’s always a pleasure to welcome students from all over London to learn and build on their skills and encourage them to be likeminded and collaborative. Our main aim is to inspire students to get creative and unleash their entrepreneurial spirit, which I have definitely seen today”  

The students will now return to their schools and colleges to film their refined pitches and submit them for the final competition. A panel of judges will decide on a winner, which will be unveiled at the BIC Awards Night on 26 April. The prizegiving event will be attended by students, staff, and entrepreneurs across the University and London. 

The winners will receive access to Accelerator and the services they offer which include building a website for the business, financial support, and marketing and PR experts. 

Group picture of attendees and organisers at the Big Idea Challenge Bootcamp

Picture: London Met staff with participants and partners at the Big Idea Bootcamp