Friday 7 March 2014

Enterprising Students 2014

Almost 365 days since the 2013 Student Enterprise Awards, the foyer at The Institute was awash with young capitalists again.  Just like last year, I was tied up in classes the whole afternoon, so didn't get round to talking to all the youthful entrepreneurs.  Heck, I didn't get to talk to more than a dozen different groups before they were being told to pack up and go home.   Rupert Sheldrake holds a fringe-science concept of morphogenetic fields - where ideas propagate across an as yet undefined aether (woowah video).  This is a scientifically testable idea so it's silly to just cry nonsense and close down the shutters.  Sheldrake thinks that it may be easier to solve The Times Crossword late in the afternoon after two rounds of commuters have struggled with the clues.  He also thinks that after sheep in New Zealand have learned to negotiate cattle-grids by taking a bit of a run and getting across them with a parachute roll, it may be more likely for Scottish sheep to develop the same trick for accessing greener pastures.

Last year, at least two enterprises were producing smoothies, this year three companies were producing cup-cakes.  Smoothies nowhere to be seen - soooo last year y'know.  What's all that about?  Something in the Sheldrake air?  A new cookie series on RTE?  Industrial espionage in school uniforms?  Or Friendface social media?  All the cup-cakes looked gorgeous: like orchids - totally artificial, quite over-decorated, hard to believe really.  One of the three groups, which should have been called Boys who Bake Buns, but wasn't, had my vote for producing gluten-free and diabetic-friendly cup-cakes.  The Boys and I agreed that their product looked great but tasted like saw-dust.  Nevertheless the sense of including those with medical conditions in the latest food-fad seemed like a Good Thing to do.

Next door, a couple of girls were producing bouquets . . . made of candies & chocolates.  My good old friend P from graduate school loves to give people flowers - birthdays, graduations, communions, bar-mitzvars.  She was once asked to do the florals for a friend's wedding and, being temporarily car-less, went to the florist  in the wheels (that's a synecdoche) of a fellow-student.  On the way back to venue, the driver asked "Don't you find it a little strange that we celebrate these events by cutting off the reproductive parts of plants?".  It gave her pause!  Meanwhile back at The Institute, I launched into the bouquet girls " Yar yar roar roar, what's wrong with flowers? I think this is a terrible idea, we have an epidemic of Obes . . ." when I realised that one of the teenage partners was twice as big as the other ". . . ahem, my girls have terrible trouble with their teeth: always at the dentist."  I admitted that their sweetie-bouquets looked very nice and moved quickly on with a red face.

33 years ago this week, Clive Sinclair launched the ZX81: a personal computer selling at an unbelievably low £69.95 or $250.  Immediately other people battened onto the BASIC concept and made comfortable money selling peripherals, carry-cases, Sinclair magazines, and ZX81 games on cassette. Shortly after Crocs, the shoes that aren't water-proof, launched in 2002, Sheri Schmelzer started designing and selling little decorative studs that filled some of the holes. A year later the parent company bought out Jibbitz for $20million  That's called an exit strategy and how capitalism works.  Another thing in the Sheldrake this week seemed to be "dang, where did I put my hair-clips?".  There were two teenage solutions to this distressing conundrum.  One groups bought some nice picture-frames, stuck in a nice back-ground and then glued on a horizontal median strip in a different colour.  The strip was about as wide as a hair-grip is long.  So if you remember to clip the grips onto the frame, then you'll know where to find them next-time.  The other group were selling a piece of colored card on which a magnetic strip had been glued.  Stick the card on the wall as a magnetic store for your hair-clips. That's also how capitalism works - find an unfulfilled need (or create one through advertising) then make and sell a solution. I can see a new sport sweeping the country, a bit like darts - you lie on your bed and fire hair-grips at the card and count how many stick. Let's call it klipnominations. You could do it through Friendface другособа and issue challenges to your facefriends in Ukraine.  You might need "волосся-кліп" and "магніт" in your communications.

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