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The START of something exciting: 2024 Pitch & Vision Evening

The START of something exciting: 2024 Pitch & Vision Evening

You may have heard some of the noise around START, a new interdisciplinary learning programme the High School is running that replicates the experience of a startup incubator.

Created by Mr Phil Ford, Head of Sixth Form, in collaboration with leading voices in design and entrepreneurship, START teaches teams of senior pupils how to identify and solve real-world problems, turn their ideas into early-stage business proposals, and communicate their vision to others. It fosters vital skills for the modern economy that will benefit young people, regardless of their future career ambitions.

After months of hard work from this year’s START cohort, the programme culminated in a Pitch & Vision Evening held at SWG3 on Monday 11 March 2024. Five teams delivered impressive pitches to an audience of parents and business people. They were judged by a panel of experts which included Kevin Walls, COO of Scottish EDGE, Wendy McDougall CEO of Firefish and Danny Campbell, Architect and Founder of HOKO.

Pitching on the evening were:

  • Floe – a healthy energy drink: Alex A, Paddy B-K, Olivia E, Lottie K-T, Rowan S and Jan VdH
  • Fresh Alert – an app which seeks to reduce food waste: Zander B, Chris C, Melody D, Ben D L-G, Alanna H
  • Trome – connecting students with spare rooms in homes: Jackson A, Audrey H, Kishan G, Magnus G and Toni J
  • Sleepify – an app to aid teenage sleep: Tom F, Charlie M, Mhairi S, Nick S and Sophie T
  • Spick & Span – the Uber of cleaning services: Kelvin H, Leo L, Ben M, Coryn M and Georgia W

Following a five minute presentation from each team which unveiled their concept and looked at subscription models, projected revenue, target audience segmentation, survey results and even premiered some viral-worthy TikToks, pupils faced questions from the discerning judges.

All participants did themselves proud delivering thought-provoking pitches with innovative business ideas and solutions to problems that really mattered to them. They reflected on their learning journeys across the programme, highlighting what went well, what didn’t and how they had adapted their thinking. Above all, they demonstrated real leadership and communication skills when put on the spot with the judges’ questions.

The judges had the unenviable task of deciding which team would take the coveted START 2024 Award and secure an internship with Glasgow startup Zappaty. Floe, the healthy energy drink came out top with the judges noting their commitment to creating a product with clear sustainability goals as well as a focus on health and wellbeing.

Commenting, Mr Phil Ford, said:

I'm incredibly proud of all that the START 2024 cohort accomplished across this session. They threw themselves into the process and watching them grow week on week as they worked with design-thinking experts, real life entrepreneurs and marketing and branding professionals, was a joy to see.

Standing up on a stage and pitching to a room full of adults is no mean feat when you are an adult, let alone a teenager, and they took it in their stride. Thank you to everyone who came along to support our young entrepreneurs.

This is just the beginning of START: we want this innovative, interdisciplinary course to be available, fully funded, to all children across Scotland and we are looking to partner with schools to make this happen, so please do get in touch. To be able to do this, we must also scale the programme, and it is one of three fundraising focuses of the 900 Campaign, launched to commemorate our 900th anniversary.”

Also in attendance on the night was START 2023 winner, Liam McColl, to discuss the concept he came up with during his year on the START programme. A keen festival goer, Liam identified the issue of people falling unwell at festivals and came up with a solution. Enter FESTAG: a smart medical alert system wrist band designed to be worn at festivals that allows first responders to scan their smartphone to instantly identify a patient, understand any pre-existing medical needs and contact the emergency services. He reflected on his experience of START and his plans to pursue entrepreneurialism and grow FESTAG while studying for his undergraduate degree in Computing Science.

Two individuals who were instrumental in the inception of START and teach on the course, Tom Inns of cofink and Sandy Kennedy of IGS, also took to the stage during the Pitch & Vision Evening to discuss what it takes to be an entrepreneur and design-thinker in the 21st century, delivering an informative session.


If you’d like to learn more about START as a school, as a mentor or as an investor, take a look at our website and fill out the contact form available here.

START Pitch & Vision Evening