Year 5 entrepreneurs take part in AHPS Dragons' Den

Dear all,

Many of you will be aware that Avanti House held a Dragons’ Den event for their Year 5 children as part of entrepreneurial week. This was a fabulous idea by the school and an excellent opportunity for our children to shine. The first Dragons’ Den event has given our children practical exposure in understanding the needs of a business from planning to finance and marketing. Having seen many of the video presentations, I was personally impressed at the level of detail the business plans encapsulated. For example, the exploding volcano incorporated a practical demonstration of Science and Technology.

In addition to developing confidence in public speaking, the event will no doubt have helped the children to grasp key skills in presentation, delivery and dissemination. These are all fundamental stepping stones for gearing up to real-life work. FOAH would like to thanks Ms Pandya (Head of Avanti House), Nicola Leach, Walter Chanvhunduka as well as all the staff involved, for giving FOAH an opportunity in helping to deliver such a special event for the children.

The Story:
So what was FOAH’s involvement in all this you might be asking? A week prior to the Dragons’ Den event, I received an email from Ms Pandya with an event brief asking if I would like to participate as a Dragon at the event. I felt very honoured to be considered and I accepted. Having accepted, it was not going to be right for the FAOH Chair to attend an occasion for the children without participating in a more formal way to help support the school and enhance the children’s experience – secretly, it was also an excuse for me and my team to start doing something for this year!

Having agreed in principle, I needed to obtain FOAH Trust approval for any gifts or donations, and this is where I had to do my first Google search: not on gift ideas, but on influencing and negotiation skills! I am still reminded of the efficiency and dedication of the team in organising the Northwick Park Hospital gifts, literally overnight. I am sure there is a subtle hint in there for me not to take my team for granted just because they’re so efficient, but to actually give them more notice!

I briefed the FOAH Board about the event and, understandably, received a number of concerns around timescale and cost. In fact, I hadn’t even yet consulted the Research and Development (R&D) arm of FOAH on potential ideas for the event. Of course, the Board had a point! However, according to Kent University, in such situations one should adopt a strategy of “negotiating jointly”. This involves coming to an agreement where everyone gets what they want, reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement: win-win. The Board wanted to ensure that we could deliver on our commitment, which was fair enough. The time factor was a huge concern, and I could hardly remind them of Northwick Park gifts as a testament to our efficiency! The Board agreed that if R&D were happy to take on the task at short notice and guarantee delivery, then the Board would be happy to sign it off.

Chapter 2: Talking to R&D:
Conscious of previously highlighted concerns, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to ask R&D members to spend their weekend researching educational ideas and deliver something on the Monday. Dare I say, was this going to be possible? I kept thinking of the names of members in the R&D subcommittee: Altea Trivedi, Nima Vekaria, Sheetal Sawjani, and Shreya Shah. They all have a huge reputation for efficiency and successful delivery, so if anyone was going to deliver, it was going to be these wonderful people. Of course, I would still do well following Kent University’s guidance on strategy for successful negotiations, so I decided I would listen carefully, clarify any issues and keep calm. Seemed like a sensible approach.

I then proceeded to set-up the R&D subcommittee, bringing the best minds together in one place. It was the first time R&D has been used in anger.

Before I could properly address the newly formed team, I had a charge of messages thanking me for formalising the group and stating how they were so keen to begin work straight away to plan events for 2018 – such was the enthusiasm of the team. Now I felt confident enough to ask them to look into the Dragons’ Den event.

Having, what one might consider to be, an initial seizure about the deadline, I tried to inspire the team by reminding them about their reputation and their capabilities; this piece of inspiration came from the Ramayan where Hanumanji was reminded of his divine abilities by Sugriva. Of course, subliminal chanting of the mantra “you can do it” does have an impact too.

R&D came back with a number of fully researched ideas faster than it’s taken me to write this note, and, by the end of the weekend, the FOAH Board had approved their research. Year 5 children were going to get customised Trophies as an inspirational gift for participating as well as a MoneySense workshop (delivered by Sheetal Sawjani) to teach children about finance. The gifts were delivered within 24 hours and were at the event by 08:00 on the day. In the background, Chirag Patel (Treasurer) and Pinkesh Shah (Vice Treasurer) worked diligently to ensure there were no hold-ups on the funding side.

Chapter 3: The Event:
Having become seasoned to ideas from parents, I was very much looking forward to hearing about the creative ideas the children had. However, the axiom goes "if something can go wrong, it will”. In my case, the night before the event, I was struck down by what I can only describe as some type Dengue fever (okay, so it wasn’t quite Dengue, but a type of debilitating flu that I’ve never experienced before). There was no way I was going to make the event. At 06:00 on the day of the event, I asked my wife (Shruti Bhimjiyani) to message the FOAH Vice Chair (Nikhil Sawjani) and ask him to put his suit on. I also pointed Shruti to Kent University’s ‘art of persuasion’ manual, in case she needed to convince Nikhil. Persuasion wasn’t needed, Nikhil understood the gravity of the situation and rearranged all is work commitments to be there. Gaurang Morjaria, our FOAH Secretary and Director of Comms, also rearranged his plans to make sure the event was captured. This was a great seva from both of them.
At the event, Daxa Joshi helped distribute the Trophies and took videos of the presentations. To my regret I wasn’t there to experience the event or my favourite dhokras firsthand, but the feedback I have received was extremely positive. The teachers and children loved the customised Trophies. There was a real buzz in the atmosphere and everyone who attended really enjoyed participating.

A huge amount of work went in by the school to make the event such a success. The presentations were strong and the children responded to questions confidently. I also hear the Dragons (Anant Joshi, Mo Ladha, Nikhil Sawjani and Ekta Somani) did a fantastic job in directing questions and making the children feel comfortable. Prior to the event, Anant and Mo also ran workshops for the children in preparation for the event. The Dragons were a real inspiration to the children – I especially liked their attire, which brought a real sense of gravitas to atmosphere. Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Jones: eat your heart out!

Hiren Bhimjiyani(FOAH Chair)



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