Jack Crofts will go head-to-head in a boardroom competition for the annual National Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 award.
Jack is one of six students from across the UK who will pitch to Peter Jones CBE and a high profile panel of judges at the Dragons’ Den star’s HQ, to vie for the country’s highest accolade for young entrepreneurs and £5,000 worth of investment.
Jack and his competitors will face tough questioning from the judging panel as they present their business ideas, developed as part of their course at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy.
The 18-year-old, from Stocksbridge, has set up a business called Vicuña Royale, which is billed as a luxury brand and involves importing vicuña wool from Peru.
The vicuña is an animal related to the alpaca. Jack’s business idea is based on the vicuña’s fine yarn being made into scarves, shawls and jackets. Visit www.vicunaroyale.com.
Jack said: “I’m honoured to be a finalist and very excited about the challenge that lies ahead. I have learnt so much on my college course. The teaching, and meeting so many like-minded people, has been fantastic. I have been interested in business and enterprise from an early age. My grandad started his first business when he was very young, borrowing £100 from his dad.”
He explained: “When I was seven, I got a computer and started my own pretend company creating a makeshift office in my bedroom including leaflets and posters. I enjoyed pretending to run my own business so much that I decided it was what I wanted to do when I grew up.”
Jack is completing his college course this summer, and going on to a Business and Enterprise Degree at Sheffield Hallam University.
Peter Jones CBE said: “I am really excited about bringing together my top six young entrepreneurs from across the country and hearing more about their businesses. Every year I am more and more impressed by the creative ideas, confidence and passion of the candidates and I’m so proud to be a part of their journey. I wish all the students the best of luck and am looking forward to meeting them soon in the boardroom!”
Jack will face five other finalists from across the UK. They are Yolanda Dixon of Leicester College, Jamie Gamble from Amersham and Wycombe College, Gemma Louise Rothwell from Oldham College, Emma Sivess from Chelmsford College and Sophie Taylor from South Essex College.
The judging panel also includes Jamie Burke, Sales Director at Softcat; Michael Hayman MBE, Co-founder of Seven Hills; Neil Old, COO of Jessops and Sarah Bell, Partner at Grant Thornton.
Heather Smith, Principal, The Sheffield College, said: “Jack is an inspirational student who has invested an incredible amount of time and effort in his business idea during his course, and I am thrilled that he is through to the National Entrepreneur of the Year final. The Sheffield College has a strong reputation for enterprise education. The skills that our students develop equip them to set up a business, go on to employment or move on to the next level course at college or university.”
The overall winner will be announced in the summer at the Peter Jones Enterprise annual graduation ceremony. The winning student will receive £5,000 to invest in their business - a legacy of Carol Slesser, an inspiring businesswoman whose life was dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship. The winner will also become a 2016 ambassador for the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. Visit www.pjea.org.
For more information on our enterprise and full-time courses at The Sheffield College starting this September, click here or call 0114 2602600.