Five Cork students with an innovative idea to help first year students settle into their new school and find their way around their timetables have made it to the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Finals.
The first year students at Coláiste Muire Réalt na Mara in Crosshaven created customised keyrings made to order with the student timetable inside, making it easily accessible for new students finding their way around a new environment.
The mini-company Quirky Keyrings was entered into the Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur Regional Finals which the students won and are now All Ireland finalists.
Leah Mulcahy Davis, Amy Doherty, Erikka Jordan, Rebecca Woodroffe and Kate Nugent and their teacher Claire O’Brien had been working hard on the project before Covid-19 and are now preparing for the All Ireland final.
Principal of Coláiste Muire in Crosshaven, Ann Doherty, said she was “so proud” of the girls and the work that they put into the project.
“We were delighted to get the news, it’s fabulous. Some schools strive to do this and never get through to an All Ireland. Enterprise is very hard, I’ve done it for years as principal and used to when I was teaching. I was just so proud of them.
“I could have been leaving work at half five in the evening and they would be still there with their teacher working on it. They deserve it, I’m delighted because they have put such hard work into it,” she said.
Croke Park is usually host to the finals and would be taken over with young entrepreneurs who have won in their category at regional level setting up stands, taking part in interviews with judges and showcasing their product.
Due to the current pandemic, finalists will now produce a poster containing the idea of the behind their company, market research information and finance information which will be marked by a panel of judges.
The students’ teacher Ms O’Brien is a recent graduate of University College Cork (UCC) in her first year of full-time teaching and now finds herself leading her students to an All Ireland final.
The business teacher also runs the school’s enterprise club held at lunchtime and after school.
She said that the students’ achievement is a testament to them and the hard work put into their company.
“They don’t get class time to do this, it’s a club we run at lunchtimes so they were coming in at lunchtime and after school and so much work goes into it. A lot of schools would never be able to say that they've won the regional finals to go onto the All Ireland finals.”
She said that the students researched all the ideas themselves, deciding what keyrings were best to use, sourcing them, researching how to get the timetables inside the keyrings and conducting market research.
Thirty submissions from the regional finals have been selected for the final and Coláiste Muire are representing the Cork South region.
Ms O’Brien continued: “We received the news last week and we weren’t sure if it was going ahead because of Covid-19 but to then find out that our girls had made it to the finals of the competition was just fantastic news and the girls did credit to themselves, they put in so much work.
“They’re five unbelievable little entrepreneurs so they were a fantastic group to work with,” she said.