Busy all day in labs and I was thinking of going home but went to get a cup of tea because I still had some busy-work to do. The ground floor foyer of the Institute was heaving with schoolkids sitting behind wee desks pushing ideas and/or product out. It was the county finals of the Student Enterprise Awards. So I went to chat to them all so that they had an opportunity to sell themselves and their idea. Very diverse set of ideas but some overlap. Two groups in the Christmas decoration business: one making rather swish holly wreaths and the other a miscellany of hand-made decorations from re-cycled goods. Two groups in the smoothie business - taking orders and selling fruit-pap (not a fan, me: I still have my teeth) to their school-mates. One group of lads had invented an overshoe to protect the studs of footie-boots when they walked home - I had to tell them about galoshes which are so old they're extinct. Another bund had designed and produced a 2ndry school discount card valid at several dozen local businesses. Their card looked chirpy and neat and was selling well at €5. "Wow, it paid for itself in the first week" - Satisfied 5th-former. One lad and two partners and was using his Dad's laser etcher-cutter to make polycarbonate key-fobs: €10 for a bespoke one-off or €1.50 if you'd order 1,000. Not what you'd expect to sell in a recession perhaps?
The thing I liked best was a €5 make-your-own rich-choc-chip cookies kit - add butter and eggs and bake. The girls had cellophane bags filled with the ingredients in layers tied off with a little ribbon attaching a recipe on a greeting-card. It looked gorgeous. Weirdly IMO they were selling the same ingredients in a 500ml Kilner jar for twice the money which I told them look awful. But the discount-card girls on the other side of the hall all preferred the Kilner jar option, so I went back and told the cookie company to ignore my comments.
A great end to the day! The kids so articulate and savvy, it gave me hope for the future of Ireland Inc. They all seemed to be under-pricing their product, however, notably by valuing their time at less (sometimes much less) than the minimum wage. Then again, I know a stay-at-home mum who spent 20 C20th years tying ribbons into bows for chocolate boxes on piece work. The rate was ridiculously low: far far below the minimum wage if we had one back then. But she said that it was easy work that could fill in idle moments and could be done while talking or watching telly . . . and without it they wouldn't have been able to afford a holiday in all those twenty years.