Young, Innovative, Contemporary
Chipping Norton is tapping into the amazing talent of its young residents with an exciting initiative which is a ‘first’ for British towns.
David Cameron, Prime Minister and local MP, launched Chippy’s unique version of Dragon’s Den at a packed business lunch on 20 November, where he called on businesses to inspire and encourage local students and young entrepreneurs in their own ventures.
Chipping Norton’s Snake Pit project marks the first time a UK town has been responsible for developing its own businesses from within.
Guy Wall, local businessman and self-declared ‘pro business’ District Councillor,hosted the meeting and conceived the idea. He has worked alongside ECN Chairman Shaun Fagan to promote the Snake Pit initiative, which will be fully developed in 2016.
Vibrant Chippy youth
Contestants in Chippy’s creative interpretation of Dragon’s Den will be drawn from Chipping Norton Secondary School, the local college and other young people in the area with innovative business ideas.
They include students taking business studies at the secondary school and sixth-formers keen to launch new careers in business.
Chipping Norton School is currently placed in the top 1% of schools nationally (18th out of 2,100) based on value added data. CNS can therefore boast the best Sixth Form in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
David Cameron urged local businesses to tap into this significant pool of talent and provide a rich, mentoring environment where young business ideas can thrive and grow.
“Thank you for what you’re doing for Chipping Norton, thank you for what you’re doing for business and the British economy, and thank you for what you’re doing to inspire young people and the next generation”, he said.
“We’ve got to make enterprise and business as exciting and inspiring as all the other careers we talk to young people about. There’s nothing more thrilling in my view than people who take that great step, set up a business, take that risk, and then employ other people and give them a livelihood.
“My plea to you is . . . see what you can do to go into local schools and inspire local young people in the ideas of business and enterprise . . . I love your Dragon’s Den idea.” – DAVID CAMERON, PM
What is Chipping Norton Snake PIt?
The project takes the existing Dragon’s Den idea and shifts its focus. Rather than people pitching to the ‘Dragons’ for cash, as they do on the hugely popular and long-running BBC show, our contestants pitch to local business leaders and entrepreneurs for access to professional expertise.
So rather than asking for funds to get their new business up and running, contestants compete for the range of services offered by the Dragons – who include solicitors, accountants, financial advisors, PR consultants and web developers.
Chippy Snake Pit has the potential to develop into a vital business advisory resource, not just for winning contestants but also for other local businesses.
Why is Chipping Norton Snake Pit so special?
Chippy’s version of Dragon’s Den is an exciting concept which places responsibility for nurturing local business firmly within the trading community.
“Although in its embryonic stage . . . (Chipping Norton Dragon’s Den) project will promote and encourage local people to start local businesses.
“This will be the first time that a town takes responsibility for generating new businesses from within, a fantastic Big Society initiative.” – GUY WALL, COUNCILLOR
Shaun Fagan said Chippy Snake Pit was more about pitching for direct access to experts than asking for money.
“So we’d have a pool of resources that the winning contestants would be given access to, along with a business coach. We’d have new or young businesses up and growing. Local businesses would be supporting local people, in an exciting national first.” – SHAUN FAGAN, ECN CHAIRMAN
A number of local businesses and organisations have pledged support including Natwest, Owen Mumford, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.
Where to from here?
Chippy’s Snake Pit is a work in progress, with full project plans currently being drawn up.
So watch out for further announcements on this fascinating competition and find out how you can get involved.
Market Town Finalists
David Cameron – surprise guest for the occasion – paid tribute to ECN’s achievement in reaching the GB High Street finals. He also praised the efforts of local groups in raising the profile of Chipping Norton as a place to do business.
Around 150 local business people and students attended the business lunch at Chipping Norton Town Hall to celebrate the Dragon’s Den launch.
Sponsored by G&G Italian Foods and Chancellors Estate Agents, the meeting also featured a range of local business stalls. Those exhibiting included (in alphabetical order):
Bliss; Broadsword Security Services; Capitol Designer Studio; Carrick Travel Agents; Chipping Norton Builders; Crown & Cushion Hotel; Cafe le Raj; Elmsfield Industrial Estate; Kopyrite; and Machine Link.
Thanks to ECN’s Liam Bellenie for capturing the event in pictures.