THE creation of kits containing small electronic projects for young children to make has earned James Hargest College company MakerBox the overall title of Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Southland Company of the Year.
The team of five won the top honour at the YES prize-giving ceremony at the Southern Institute of Technology Tay St campus last week.
MakerBox produces kits containing components needed to create small electronic projects using recycled materials, such as a small metal torch using a metal chewing gum container and a light saver made using a milkshake straw.
Customers subscribe to the company and once a month receive a box containing a new project to build.
Since sales started in June, the company had made more than $6000 in revenue.
MakerBox chief executive Benjamin McIntyre said the idea for the product came from another non-profit organisation he had started called MakerVengers.
“It’s about trying to bring primary school-age children together to be more creative and innovative.”
Director Stuart Dean said the whole experience of being part of YES had been beneficial, and the business skills they had learned through the programme would be something they could apply in the future.
Co-ordinated locally by the Southland Chamber of Commerce, YES provides Years 12 and 13 pupils with the opportunity to learn about business by setting up their own company and developing a business plan to produce and market a real product or service and make a real profit or loss.
The Southland competition this year attracted 125 pupils in 19 companies from Aparima College, Riverton, James Hargest College, Aurora College and Mount Aspiring College, Wanaka.
The Company of the Year award was decided by a panel of nine judges who used $50,000 in virtual money to invest in a minimum of three of the YES companies. The company which received the largest overall investment took out the top honour.
The runner-up was Goodie Bags, from Mount Aspiring College.
MakerBox also took out the awards for enterprising technology, solving a development problem, and innovation, and Benjamin was named Young Enterpriser of the Year.
Judge Nicola Wills, of Craigs Design and Print, said MakerBox received the award for enterprising technology because it had developed a fantastic website, with great e-commerce components which generated 45% of its sales.
The company had also developed a strong social media presence, she said.
Mrs Wills said she had invested in the company in part because it had become a viable business and because MakerBox’s product was innovative.
James Hargest College business studies teacher Paul Redmond said he was proud of what the team had achieved.
“They are quite a tight team, very well led by Ben,” he said.
“Their presentation today was very slick. It is nice to see them get this reward.”
MakerBox directors thanked the YES team, their teacher Mr Redmond and sponsors for their support.
For winning the top award, MakerBox received a cash prize of $250 and a trophy and will represent the region at the YES national finals in Wellington in December.