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Students Solve Real Business Challenges at Innovate:15

We hosted our annual student Bootcamp during June in the Enterprise Zone of an unusually sunny University of Stirling. ‘Bootcamp: Innovate 15’ brought together 25 students from across Scotland to participate in a four day residential event to demonstrate the value of the enterprising mind-set and provide the students with practical experience.

On day one, we set students a design thinking challenge in an alternative context. Five groups of students loaded 1KG of potatoes (Or their babies as they would become known) into flaw-riddled pushchairs and set off to the campus grounds. The purpose of this activity was to experience the difficulty which parents face accommodating their young ones through day to day trips so that they could design a new, alternative pushchair. It wasn’t long before students were adapting to their new roles as they pulled, pushed, hauled and manoeuvred their way over the grounds in a predictably exhausting fashion, finding the pushchairs flaws. The first evening concluded with an energetic pitching session to which five happy students emerged victorious with extra beer tokens.

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On the morning of day two, representatives for The Cardboard Box Café, Good Green Fun, Start Up Stirling, Stirling and District Womens Aid and Home Start Stirling met with a designated groups of students to outline the nature of their business, the barriers that exist within their own organisation and in their local community. They set the students challenges ranging from marketing, recruitment, operations, data collection and new venture creation. After two hours of carefully and thoroughly consulting with their clients, the students headed to the town centre to conduct observations and collect market feedback before retiring back to campus grounds with their collected data.

On day three, Mel Sherwood from Grow Your Potential delivered a pitching session which was particularly useful to the students as they faced the daunting experience of pitching their ideas the next day. We also welcomed Joanna Shaw from Insights Discovery who showed the students to understand their own personal strengths, weaknesses and how this contributes to overall team efficiency.

On Thursday morning, the five business representatives eagerly returned. Ditching the conventional flipchart, photo-slides and pie charts, the majority of students opted for a more relaxed and personal approach by hosting table discussions. They outlined the problems they identified, barriers and possible progressive ideas. The students were well prepared after spending hour’s prototyping, researching, drawing and storyboarding their findings. They also used their market research from Day 2, and the new skills they’d developed throughout Bootcamp.


The result was abundantly positive with business representatives highlighting the value in assessing their own work, something which can often be left to the side in favour of the day to day running of the business. As they listened intently and scribbled notes, it became apparent that the organisations gathered some real value.

Lucie Bull, Director of Good Green Fun particularly commented;

‘The standard of work and enthusiasm demonstrated by the students was exceptional and I really valued their ideas and input. I have taken a note of their email addresses, so that I can keep them updated on how we implement their recommendations in the future. I thought the whole event was brilliantly organised and I thoroughly enjoyed being involved.’

It was a compelling experience for many, most commending the project for challenging the stigma which is attached to the social missions of many enterprises and for providing genuine insight into the problems which exist for organisations of all sizes. The growth in confidence and commercial awareness had become apparent in participants with many inquiring about potential volunteer positions.

Students feedback on post-it notes highlighted important entrepreneurial skills such as ‘Collaboration’, ‘Take Ownership’, ‘Communication’ and ‘Team Work’ which will help them whether they decide to start their own business in future or secure a job after graduation.

We would like to send our thanks to everyone who committed time towards this project and made it possible;

Mel Sherwood; Grow Your Potential

Joanna Shaw; Insights 

Nicky McPherson; The CardboardBox Play Café

Lucie Bull; Good Green Fun

Linda Sterry; Start Up Stirling

Jessica Lindohf; Stirling and District Womens Aid

Rachel Cameron; Home Start 

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