Young Irish entrepreneur Jean Kennedy from County Laois answered a few questions for B*Different on what appearing on Junior Dragons Den with Scr!bble TimeTable Pen has done for her and her business.
How was your business doing before appearing on Junior Dragons Den?
I set up Scr!bble in 2011 with four close friends as part of the Student Enterprise Awards in our Transition Year Program. This project gave me the chance to experience entrepreneurship and test out my product which proved to be a great success. Scr!bble was awarded best innovative idea in Laois and as the inventor I was so proud to have succeeded in transforming a simple idea into a profit making product.
I came up with my idea while I was walking through a stall at the National Ploughing Championships 2011. I was given a promotional pen, which contained a scroll advertising this company’s service. In school the next day there were many students who had got the gadget and were using it to write with.
I had been planning on coming up with a product for students as I knew what problems we faced on an every day to day basis and as I could easily sell them at school. I decided to adapt the banner pen idea to create a product that helped students and even teachers keep themselves organised throughout the week, The Timetable Pen.
My first order was for 1000 pens. Our mini company team sold this batch to students and teachers in my area, through sports teams, youth clubs, basically by word of mouth. By the end of our school year, the mini company project ended and we were all thrilled to have each received some wages for working hard all year. During that summer I decided I’d like to continue with this product, the problem was I had no more stock, that’s when I saw the advertisement for ‘budding entrepreneurs’ to apply for Junior Dragons Den. The €2000 bursary could get my company back up and running. And so it did, Scr!bble is now a sole trader company selling to students and teachers throughout the nation.
How has the show helped you?
The journey from filling out my Junior Dragons Den application form to pitching my business to the Dragons is without doubt an experience that I will never forget. I remember seeing the advert for ‘budding entrepreneurs’ to apply for The Den if ‘you’ve got what it takes to face The Dragons’. It was the day before the closing date and I was just home from work, I love a good challenge so I decided I’d apply and put my previous transition year mini company idea forward and hope for the best.
All of a sudden I found myself telling top business men and women all about my company at the Regional and National finals of the JDD selections. I loved every minute, answering questions, getting people’s point of view about the product and meeting other talented junior entrepreneurs. It was a great opportunity to find out more about the world of business and how it works, what type of a personality you need to be successful in business and also how important contacts are!
I was in school when I received the email to say I had been picked from the National finals to pitch my business idea to the Dragons. It really is a once in a life time opportunity standing in front of five top business people and pitching my idea not only to those millionaires, but to the entire nation. And of course, I was super excited to be on the television!
The weeks seemed to fly by and before I knew it I was standing at the bottom of the famous stair case casually chatting to one of the filming crew. I was so calm until I managed to reach the top of the staircase and then, it all hit me! I stepped inside ‘The Den’ (which is a lot bigger and intimidating than it looks on TV) and made strong eye contact with ‘The Dragons’. I introduced myself, I began my pitch and I honestly cannot remember one thing that happened after that! The combination of adrenalin and nerves just overwhelmed me, it felt great. I came back to reality as I shook hands with Gavin Duffy and Sean O’Sullivan, after sealing the deal. I was so happy I could have kissed them but I managed to contain myself until I got back out to my parents! I was so grateful to have gotten the chance to be part of this series ‘Dragons Den’. I learned so much about myself as an individual and how important it is to work hard in life if you want success, The Dragons are all so inspirational to me!
I would certainly recommend other entrepreneurs to apply for Dragon’s Den in the future. It’s a brilliant way to get your company up and running especially in the current economic climate. Not only do you learn more about your business and get to expand your ideas but you also get to meet other companies and make some great friends and connections in the world of business!
What have you done since the show?
I have been very busy since the screening of Junior Dragons Den, I have set up an online store where students and teachers everywhere can order pens via PayPal and have them posted to their home. There was over 2000 hits on my website the night the show was aired, which proves how beneficial business screen time is. I have spent a lot of time approaching businesses who would be interested in advertising their company on the opposite side of the timetable pen, I do all of the graphic designing on the banner myself so I spend most nights on the computer working on them or filling out orders. I am currently focusing on the marketing side of my company as it’s getting close to the ‘back to school season’ and retailers will be particularly interested in my product during these months. Bank of Ireland has also recently held their ‘National Enterprise Week’ where I launched my new 2013 stock, sponsored by Bank of Ireland.
What are your plans for the next year?
I am lucky that the majority of my product selling is done during the summer time/ back to school season, it means that the company isn’t too time consuming while I study for the Leaving Cert, within the next year I want to see teachers and students all around the country using their timetable pen to help them adapt to their new timetable routine. I’d also love to get involved with colleges and universities around Ireland.
My target market is first year students as they find the timetable pen particularly useful as they make the transition from primary to secondary school. It takes time for them to adapt to the hectic school timetable routine, their Scr!bble pen is an essential survival gadget! I will be busy with college over the next few years so I probably won’t expand my company product until I have time to put all my energy and work into it. For now I’m concentrating on getting my first product out on the market. The Timetable Pen, The Original!
For more information see: Facebook Twitter Google+ or The Timetable Pen Website