A group of Pakuranga College young entrepreneurs are national champions after winning The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme Company of the Year Award in Wellington.
The students created A Brilliant Signature with the challenge to run a small business during 2015.
Founders of the company are Kobe Huang, chief executive; Honghao Wu, finance director; Mary Liu, marketing director; and Jiemin Peng, communications director.
They created custom-designed signatures for their customers, supplying each customer with samples of three different signature options, a slow motion video and tracing paper.
They beat 17 other student businesses in the national final with five minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges.
Kobe is ecstatic about the win.
“I’m so excited for the future. For us, winning this prize means we’ve been recognised by businesspeople who have so much experience. There are so many opportunities ahead of us.”
Simon Murray, head of the college’s business studies, who was also named East Auckland Young Enterprise ‘Teacher of the Year’, says the ABS group has achieved a “stand-out” performance.
Young Enterprise chief executive, Terry Shubkin says the team displayed much maturity and insight.
ABS sold to clients in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.
Before winning the national title, the team told the Times, it was looking to a wider platform with an ambition to take their innovative product to an international audience.
Initially Jiemin says, the group was having difficulty getting its brand into the young adults market and realised that traditional outlets such as trade fairs were not working. Instead it took a 21st century option to drive traffic to its website.
It ran a one-week signature selfie competition on Facebook with a prize of movie tickets, pens carrying the ABS logo and free signatures.
Facebook visitors increased by about 1200 during the competition and an extra 500 hits on the website resulted.
However a presentation to a Howick Rotary Club meeting also revealed other target markets, such as business people and sports celebrities.
So ABS introduced a premium strategy with higher quality art work and prices. Also it can match a signature to an individual request, for example a rugby ball for a rugby player.
Kobe says the project is not just a 12-month effort, but could take a number of years.
Next year the team will start studying commerce at university and the business will continue.
“We believe in the potential of the business,” Kobe says, “and are confident that we can achieve greater brand loyalty and get into the business world. No-one is doing this in New Zealand except us.”
Each member of the winning team receives a scholarship to the Massey University Business School and a $3000 cash award. The school also receives a $2000 cash award.
The company’s website is www.abrilliantsignature.com.
Written by Marianne Kelly, this article was originally published by The Times.