The Grand Final of Habs Dragons’ Den 2022, a biennial competition which runs across the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools, took place on the morning of Wednesday 9 March in the Bourne Hall to an audience made up of students, staff, governors, parents and alumni; as well as a high-profile panel of ‘Dragons’.

The Final takes place during National Careers Week, with the aim of the initiative being to encourage creativity and entrepreneurial spirit amongst the students.

The Dragons’ Den competition was launched in the Autumn Term, when students in Years 10 and 11 across both schools were invited to work in teams and submit a business idea. From the initial entries, 12 teams were selected to pitch to a panel of external judges in three after-school heats; after which five teams were invited to pitch in the Grand Final. The teams pitched their ideas to a high-profile panel of ‘Dragons’ comprising Nica Burns OBE, CEO of Nimax Theatres (and Old Haberdasher); Tim Campbell MBE, successful businessman and aide to Lord Sugar on BBC’s The Apprentice; CEO of the Canary Wharf Group, Shobi Khan; and Emma Woods, former CEO of Wagamama.

The Final was once again introduced and chaired by television and radio presenter Sonali Shah, who expertly kept things moving. After five outstanding pitches, the judges picked two winning teams – Wastigator, comprising of Eshan (11H2), Avi (11J1), Matthew (11H2) and Fola (11M2) from the Boys’ School and Nodpods, comprising of Ameya (M5 Aesc), Anaya (M5 Aesc) and Ananya (M5 Aske) from the Girls’ School.

As he announced the winners, Tim Campbell said ‘Collectively as judges we agreed that if we were in your position at your age, we would not have been able to do this to such a high level. Thank you for putting so much time, diligence and effort into that, we are humbled to be on the receiving end.’

After the event, finalists were able to network with the judges as well as receive informal feedback and take some photos.

The competition is supported by Khilan Dodhia and Rajesh Shah, both Old Haberdashers and partners at investment firm Encore Capital. Speaking at the start of the event, Khilan explained that he hopes initiatives like Dragons’ Den will encourage the students to take risks, consider a broader range of careers and possibly to start their own businesses.

Students taking part in the competition have benefitted from pitching workshops, expert coaching and feedback; and guidance on putting together a business plan.

We are extremely grateful to Khilan, Rajesh and their colleagues at Encore Capital for their ongoing support with this exciting competition; as well as to the Dragons and Sonali for giving up their time to attend, and to alumni and friends of the school who support this initiative.