Vincent Houckham, 21 from Fenham, Anthony Cook, 21 from Felling, James Ridley, 20 from South Shields, Chris Barber, 21, from Gateshead, Christopher Greaves, 21 from Jarrow and Christopher Scarr, 21 from Washington – all Foundation Degree Games Development students, were among a number of learners from Newcastle College who were chosen to take part in an enterprise master-class called ‘Have You Got What It Takes’.
Students from across the college were invited to apply for a place on the 12 week course developed and delivered by Gerald. The successful students were taught a wide range of skills including how to prepare a business plan, marketing and customer services, strategy planning, accounts and how to grow their company.
Students were also challenged to consider, develop and pitch their business ideas to Gerald, with the winning idea securing an investment of £500.
Gerald was so impressed with the students’ ideas and presentations that he struggled to choose one winning team and split the prize money between two of the groups.
Vincent, Anthony, James and Chris won for their video game idea and the two Christophers for their games design and development pitch.
The students were judged on the strength of their suggestions, their presentation skills and whether Gerald believed they could make their business proposals a success in reality.
James, a former pupil at St Wilfred’s School RC school, said: “It’s been a huge confidence boost. We were so pleased to be among the winners and what Gerald shared with us was so helpful.
“We had been playing around with various ideas for creating games for a number of months but not done much about them. Gerald told us that our ideas were good and that they could actually work. He’s made us think in a much more professional, strategic way and given us invaluable information about how we could actually turn our idea into a business. We now plan to spend the summer doing just that.”
Christopher Scarr, a former Usworth Comprehensive pupil, similarly hopes that he and his partner in the competition, Christopher Greaves can also go onto develop their business idea further.
“I’ve always wanted to set up my own business and now, as a result of this course, I can actually see that this is something I could actually achieve now with our games design and development idea.
“Gerald said we demonstrated that we had a clear idea of what we were doing, where we were going and how we were going to get there. This was real praise from someone like him who has been so successful.”
Gerald said: “What we have been doing at Newcastle College is very different and looks at encouraging students to be entrepreneurial, but realistic about the world around them in light of the current economic climate. I was inspired to create this sort of reality grounded enterprise course because I believe that we are now all too reliant on the public sector and we need to encourage a new breed of entrepreneurs who can create new business streams in this country.
“I take a different approach in my lecturing. The students are at the heart of what I teach and the ethos is based around encouraging them to apply what they learn to their own ideas. Most of the work on this course has been based on their own business ideas. So it has been directly relevant to what they have been coming up with and they have responded to this approach with real enthusiasm.
“The course has been a real life dragon’s den. I’ve been very honest about their ideas. It’s important to take your idealism and intellectual sensibilities and hold them up to reality. Good ideas don’t always just work – they need the benefit of good marketing and selling techniques supporting them, which is what I have been telling the students.”
Robin Ghurbhurun, Deputy Principal at Newcastle College said: “Encouraging enterprise and supporting young people to develop young people to develop their own business ideas is high on our agena as a college. We have been carrying out many innovative initiatives to embed a spirit of entrepreneurship throughout the curriculum and hope to continue working with high profile representatives from industry to inspire and enthuse our students.”
Gerald led the consortium of local businessmen which successfully took-over Leeds United AFC in 2004 seeing him become Chairman and part owner. He has been lecturing nationally and internationally for 30 years and is a leading business, rescue, recovery and restructuring specialist and Partner with Begbies Traynor.