Hunter Young Business Minds Awards open to Port Stephens students and schools

Tomaree High School students and Orchard School Systems creators Tyler Regan, 17, and Dakota Nicholson, 16, received a 2017 Hunter Young Business Mind Award from Harry Balding.
Tomaree High School students and Orchard School Systems creators Tyler Regan, 17, and Dakota Nicholson, 16, received a 2017 Hunter Young Business Mind Award from Harry Balding.

Entrepreneurial students and schools in Port Stephens that are supporting innovation have the opportunity to be recognised and gain funding through the Hunter Young Business Mind Awards.

An initiative of Young Business Minds Inc, the awards are for students and schools that are creating the best learning experience to encourage creativity, innovation or entrepreneurism.

“We need to create a range of activities that not only help young people but also help schools, parents, current business people and community leaders to develop stronger relationships to create the right environment for young people to better learn to innovate and to be entrepreneurial,” Cheryl Royle, YBM chairperson and the Australian Government’s appointed Hunter entrepreneurship facilitator, said.

“Investing in these skills benefits our kids as well as the region’s economy and community longer term.”

Winning students will also receive free, ongoing business support through the Hunter Futurepreneurship Program. 

Last year’s student winners included Tyler Regan, 17, and Dakota Nicholson, 16.

The Tomaree High students have started Orchard School Systems.

Its first product is a low cost online student rewards software program for schools which is about to be piloted.

Mr Regan said entering the awards gave him funds to invest in his business and importantly, contacts with businesses, schools and other young innovators.

“There aren’t a lot of things like this for young people and it was easy to enter so people should take advantage of the opportunity,” Mr Regan said

“There are many aspects to starting a business and the Young Business Minds Awards and the Hunter Futurepreneurship Program both helped me to know what to focus on; what to do and what not to do,” he said.

Other 2017 winners were from Newcastle Senior School, Singleton High School, Belmont Christian College, St Phillips Waratah and Newcastle High School.

Ms Royle said the awards were started by the Hunter business chambers and held for the first time in December 2017.

She said YBM’s committee of current leaders in business and government have formed the association to formalise and broaden a program to energise tomorrow’s creators, innovators and entrepreneurs.

The awards are the first of several planned activities to help develop and promote creativity and entrepreneurship skills in the region’s youth. 

Ms Royle said it was easy to apply.

“All people need to do is send a two minute video outlining their business or idea,” she said.

Entries close Saturday, November 10.

An awards presentation will be held on Wednesday, November 28. 

For more information about the Hunter Young Business Mind Awards program visit ybma.com.au.

Award prizes

Harvey Norman School/Class Award

1st prize: $3,000

2nd prize $2,000

3rd prize: $1,000

Student Awards

1. RDA Hunter STEM Award

2. Social Enterprise Award

3. Creative Industries Award

4. Indigenous Entrepreneur Award

The Orchard School Systems story

Two Port Stephens school students are on a mission to develop and design affordable educational software for schools on a budget.

Tyler Regan, 17, and Dakota Nicholson, 16, have established their own business, Orchard School Systems.

The business’ first product is a rewards software program that stemmed from a request from Tyler’s former IT teacher at Tomaree High for him to help the school move from a “cumbersome” paper-based merit system.

Using Orchard Rewards, schools can allocate points to students for positive behaviour which they can then spend on goods and services in the system’s online store. What goes in the store is up to the school.

Tyler said the system has benefits for schools and students.

“Orchard Rewards recognises positive behaviour over time in a consistent and meaningful, less random way,” he said.

“A low cost digital system is efficient to administer and better for the environment.”

Tyler and Dakota are currently organising for several schools to trial the system to understand what works best from a school perspective and if there are improvements that can be made.

Their short term goal is to get at least 20 schools in NSW signed up to Orchard Rewards. Long term they see “a catalogue of software solutions that work seamlessly to help schools solve administration problems”.   

The business received a boost last year when Tyler and Dakota applied for the inaugural Hunter Young Business Mind Award. They won third place and $1000 to invest in the business.

Tyler said the money was very valuable but so too were the learnings from other students and connections with the business community and schools.

Winning the Award introduced Tyler to the Hunter Futurepreneurship Program through which he continues to receive mentoring and support to make his business a reality.

His advice for young people thinking about being an entrepreneur?

“If you have an existing business but are not sure how to progress it or even if you only have the spark of an idea you should contact Cheryl,” he said.

“The program is very professional and Cheryl has so much business knowledge and so many contacts that have helped us with getting our business off the ground.

“There are many aspects to starting a business and the Young Business Minds Awards and the Hunter Futurepreneurship Program both helped me to know what to focus on; what to do and what not to do.

“They help you to problem solve and uncover the path of least resistance.”

Tyler’s parents have both run businesses and he says they have been very supportive.

He said he is glad his mum pressured him to go in the Young Business Minds Awards.

“There aren’t a lot of things like this for young people and it was easy to enter so people should take advantage of the opportunity.”

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