Former contestant of BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ Alex Epstein visited North Highland College UHI on 30th October in conjunction with Youth Enterprise. He captured the imagination of students and staff by telling them about his time on The Apprentice and his latest business venture.
The Enterprise Day kicked off with an introduction from Ben and Michael Dyer of Youth Enterprise, who advised “Enterprise is not just about starting a business – it’s about giving you the skills to become employable.”
Former contestant of ‘The Apprentice’, Alex Epstein then held the floor, with a highly inspirational talk to the Business and Computing students about his new venture, premium hair care brand ‘Concoction’.
The ‘apprentice’ style task, set by the Youth Enterprise team challenged groups to come up with a new shampoo and superserum for the brand by looking at the 4 P’s of Marketing; product, price, place and promotion. The task was led by nominated Project Managers and judged by Alex, who provided constructive feedback to the groups. He was thrilled by the high quality of pitches the students gave, which he claimed had given him many ideas to develop the brand further.
Talking about his experience of ‘The Apprentice’, Alex revealed the how the 2009 credit crunch was the reason behind applying for the popular BBC entertainment show. He says he felt like his life was turned upside down when he was made redundant, “one found swoop and I lost it all when I lost my job.”
Upon questioning from one of the students, Alex exclaims, “I never actually learned anything from Lord Sugar, but from the competition, I learnt that I was too nice – you have to be prepared to trample on others. It changed my life forever and made me famous overnight for two whole years.”
ConcoctionAlex’s new venture ‘Concoction’ is a range of premium brand hair care products with a twist. His base blend shampoos can be mixed with any two superserum shots to concuct your own personal blend to match your hair type and colour. Talking about the success of the launch, he advised students to never give up on what they believe in, “Your parents will tell you no means no, buts really it means, no – not yet. Never take no for an answer.”
Now, Alex uses his experiences to work in conjunction with Ben and Michael Dyer, directors and founders of Youth Enterprise and The National Enterprise Challenge. They deliver inspirational and educational enterprise packages to students across the country with a number of ex-contestants of The Apprentice.
Programme Leader for Business, Admin & Accounting at NHC, Jane MacIntosh who made contact with Youth Enterprise said “This event was a great success and it was good to see all the students who attended participating so actively and enthusiastically. It was encouraging to hear the presenters say how well our students engaged in the day and how well they presented their pitches at the end of the event to the judge (Alex Epstein). Feedback from our students has been very positive.”
The prize for the winning group was a trip to London where they will sit alongside Theo Paphitis as VIP guests and judges of the National Enterprise Challenge 2014. Commenting on the partnership Theo said, “I am delighted to be getting involved with this year’s National Enterprise Challenge, which will also be sponsored by my business Ryman. It is vitally important that young people develop the skills they need to succeed in the world of work and The Ryman National Enterprise Challenge helps to develop young people’s skills in this area. I’m looking forward to working with the team this year.”
Enterprised day winnersThe winning group were (left to right): Martin John, Shannon Swanson, Gordon Campbell, (Judge, Alex), Jason Miller, Sean Frame and Cassie Swanson – a mix of Business & Computing students.
Gordon Campbell, Certificate in Office Information Management student says that winning the task came as a total shock, “Seeing the other students’ pitch, I never expected we would win the task as they were to such a high standard. We learned a lot about developing brands and it will be a great experience for us to get the chance to visit London.”
Shannon Swanson who is studying Certificate in Business and Accounting Principles said “I was excited for weeks before the event about the prospect of Alex coming to the college. Doing the tasks in our groups was really fun and now I am looking forward to meeting Theo Paphitis too!”