An invention to help people stay safe in the sun has helped Taranaki girls, Danielle Watt, 17, and Sarah Mount, 18, take out the national title of Young Enterprise Company of the Year.
The awards were announced in Wellington on Wednesday night.
More than 2500 students from around New Zealand completed The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) during which they had to form a company, create a new product or service idea and bring it to market.
The New Plymouth Girls’ High School students invented the Exposure Band, which is a bracelet with a UV monitor that lets the wearer know when to apply sunscreen.
Sarah said they were “absolutely stoked” with their win.
As well as a “big” trophy, they won a scholarship for their first year’s study at AUT, $3000 for their school and $2000 for their business.
Being involved with YES had been an amazing experience, she said.
For the finals they had to make a five minute business pitch to five judges, including Xero board member Graeme Shaw and Trilogy founder Sarah Gibbs, which they had been practising for the past two weeks.
Developing the UV compound was a trial and error process, Sarah said.
When they needed a reliable source to confirm it worked properly, they enlisted the help of Massey University.
“We’re getting ready to sell (the band) on our website. Hopefully we can sort it out in the next week.”
The girls recently signed a non-exclusive contract with Eco Springs, who would distribute the first 1000 units of their product in shops around the country.
On Wednesday night they also won the national MOVAC Award for high growth potential, which is awarded to the company with the best fast-growth idea.
Danielle said they took the invention process step by step.
“We did an amazing amount of research finding out if something like this is possible.”
Once they had the monitor they then had to find a wristband to put it on, that would be good for children to use, she said.
“We made so many prototypes working out what would work. It was a challenge.”
It was important to them that they were innovative and came up with their own product rather than import something from overseas, Danielle said.
New Plymouth Girls’ High School principal Jenny Ellis said the win was “absolutely brilliant.’
“What has been achieved is just stunning for the girls.”
It was a credit to YES teacher Kim Jennings.
There were about 200 teams in the competition so it was huge to take out the supreme award, she said.
Taranaki Chamber of Commerce YES youth co-ordinator Sue Alexander said the girls’ pitch to the judges was outstanding.
“The girls really shine. They are tremendous young women.”
They’ve had fabulous support, from herself, teachers and YES Taranaki sponsors Shell, Miss Alexander said.
Sarah and Danielle’s product was innovative and different.
“There are some other bands, but they are disposable. This is reusable. It’s a sound commercial prospect. It’s incredibly exciting.”
Taranaki Daily News