Manchester Youth Zone: A Dragon’s Insight

As a founding patron of Manchester Youth Zone (MYZ), a charity which provides a unique and safe place for young people across Manchester, we work closely with them to assist in their mission to help prepare young people for the future. At ANS, we endeavour to support both MYZ and any staff who wants to use their time to assist them, whether that’s lending a helping hand, hosting and attending events, providing workshops or offering mentoring.

Recently, Account Manager Elliot Hynes joined the MYZ as a panel member of the Business Shower sessions, a Dragon’s Den style event where young people were invited to present their business ideas, having developed their own business plans, products and side hustles.

We caught up with Elliot to find out more about the Business Showers and the impact it had on the budding entrepreneurs.

So Elliot, what exactly are the business showers and how do they work?

The Business Showers are a way for young entrepreneurs to present their start up ideas to a panel of experienced executives and business owners. The sessions were held on Tuesday and Thursday, with 3 start-ups being presented on each day. The pitch would begin with the young person introducing themselves and taking us through their business idea. Towards the end of the pitch, the entrepreneurs would highlight some potential challenges and elements which they believe were holding their business back, with the aim that the panel will be able to give them some guidance and advice around how to combat these issues. Following the pitch, the floor was opened to the panel who asked some further key questions and discussed ways in which they believed they could help the business. This ranged from introductions to relevant contacts, training on marketing, offers to purchase business cards, amongst a variety of assistance and guidance to combat their business blockers. The panel then decided how much out of a £200 seed funding pot the young entrepreneur would get to help drive their business idea forward, alongside the key advice and contacts provided by the panel.

What value do the young people get from these sessions?

There is enormous value in initiatives such as these. For starters, it gives the young entrepreneurs a huge confidence boost by giving them the reassurance that they are on the right track and doing something exceptional. It also gives them the ability to practice their social and delivery skills. I know that at 15, I wouldn’t have been able to deliver a sleek presentation in front of CEO’s and business owners, that’s for sure! What they’re doing here is just incredible.

Why do you think this is important?

I have a strong belief that the younger generation should be taught vital entrepreneurial skills and should be encouraged to chase their dreams. When I heard what the MYZ had planned with the Business Showers, I was honoured to be asked to take part. Young people are rarely given the opportunity to practice these skills they often these aren’t taught in school. In areas such as Harpurhey, children may not respond well to the typical academic journey or college and university, or have access to the same opportunities as children in other areas, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be successful! This is a valuable lesson that these Business Showers are teaching the next generation.

Which business ideas stood out for you?

All of the business ideas were incredible in their own right, however, two stood out for me. One being a young person who is a self-taught musician, artist and singer/rapper – honestly this young woman was full to the brim with talent. Her business venture was centred around just one of her many skills, her artwork. She was incredibly humble as she presented her work to the room, and we were stunned to silence! Amanda Naylor, the new Chief Executive at MYZ listened to her pitch and even asked her to complete a £250 commission to create some artwork for her new office!

Another venture which piqued my interest was ‘Soundstrum’. This was  an incredibly unique idea from a 15-year-old girl who was selling cushions and other items with silhouettes of famous bands. However, her unique ideas was to include a bespoke code on the cushion that you could scan and it would take you right to a specific album from the band on Spotify, which I thought was just genius!

It sounds like it was an incredible day, are you glad you took part?

Absolutely. It was an enriching and inspiring experience, in which I learnt a lot myself. As well as being an Account Manager for ANS, I also own my own clothing line and it was great to be able to share what knowledge I have. The Business Showers taught me the importance of giving something back to the community and the next generation of young business owners. I was fortunate in my upbringing, and I had opportunities and resources that not everybody has in life. It will push me to do everything I can to ensure the kids from the Youth Zone have everything they need to excel and reach their goals and I can’t wait to return.

To find out more about the Manchester Youth Zone, click here.

Alternatively, to volunteer at the MYZ, click here.

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