Millfield entrepreneur Ailbe wins £1000 investment from Dragons' Den star Peter Jones

Millfield BTEC Enterprise and Entrepreneurship student Ailbe Bartlett has been awarded the Highly Commended prize of £1000 and a full mentoring programme from BBC Dragons' Den star Peter Jones CBE after reaching the final of the Peter Jones Foundation National Entrepreneur of the Year competition.

The seventeen-year-old Upper Sixth student from Ilminster in Somerset successfully pitched his sustainable cycling business concept, CogNativeBikes, to the British businessman and a panel of celebrated business figures, who said that the project ‘showed great potential’.

Peter Jones, who is worth an estimated £450 million, told Ailbe that one of the greatest strengths of the business was Ailbe himself, suggesting that his overall approach would allow him to grow and pivot in the business. The millionaire was so impressed with the idea that he has donated one of his old bikes to the project.

Ailbe now looks forward to scaling up his enterprise under the mentorship of Peter Jones and is looking to pursue Business Management at university in the UK or Europe. Many successful entrepenuers have been educated at the top independent school in Somerset, including Chairman of British bakery firm Warburtons, Jonathan Warburton, owner of Wentworth Golf Club, Richard Caring, founder of Bay Tree Foods, Emma McDonald and Cornish confectionary business woman, Tracy McGoad.

Ailbe, who joined Millfield in 2019 says, “I was ecstatic with the outcome. For me it was a case of make or break as I’d never worked so hard ever before, nor had the chance to win such an award. I couldn’t have achieved it without the support of friends, family and the teachers at Millfield, especially my BTEC teacher Mr Woods who encouraged me to compete.”

Millfield’s Head of Business, Catherine Glover, says, “We’re incredibly proud of Ailbe, he’s worked really hard on his business over the last 12 months and his success is such an inspiration for our students. It’s a fantastic achievement and we can’t wait to see what he does next.”

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, run by the Peter Jones Foundation, is a nationwide network of colleges that deliver specialist courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship. Students are encouraged to set up their own businesses, from which they gain real-life experience of running.

The popular BTEC course, which is now in its fourth year at Millfield, provides an innovative environment where passionate pupils bring their business theory to life by learning business skills through numerous excursions, guest talks, challenges and workshops. The Department at Millfield is made up of 14 teachers, from a mix of commercial backgrounds, providing a dynamic, interactive learning environment with varied teaching and learning strategies.

Millfield students have had a number of recent successes on the programme, with Enterprising Sixth Form students Matthieu Trutie De Varreux and Oscar Emmott placing in the top three of the national Peter Jones 'Tycoon' Competition with their innovative street food business 'Aroy Noodles', and a team of Millfield BTEC students who won the programme’s Flash Challenge competition for redesigning Millfield’s Business Block using the computer game, Minecraft. In 2018, three Millfield BTEC Enterprise and Entrepreneurship students met Reggae Reggae sauce creator, Levi Roots, after winning a national Peter Jones Academy award for their ‘Developing a Product Concept’ challenge.

Previous National Entrepreneur of the Year winners include founder of AppearHere, Ross Bailey, who’s venture has gone on to raise over $20million in Venture Capital funding; David Humpston, founder of ViewPoint Videos, who became one of the youngest people ever to receive a Virgin StartUp loan; and Natasha Bates, founder of EasyRead, who won the competition in 2019 with great acclaim from the judges.

Learn more about Business at Millfield here.

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