Where there's a Willy, there's a way

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 31/05/2012
Willy Nelson
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ

CREATIVE THINKING: Nelson College students, from left, Reece Harwood, Grayson Knapp, and Jasper O'Donnell.

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A team of aspiring Nelson entrepreneurs have proven that when it comes to business, they have it covered.

Willy Nelson - a business team from Nelson College focused on providing customised condoms to young people - performed well in the Young Enterprise Scheme's Dragons' Den competition at the Theatre Royal last night.

The competition saw business teams from the region's high schools sell their business plans to a team of judges made up of local businesspeople, in the hope of securing start-up funding.

Willy Nelson came second overall, receiving $250.

Team chief executive Grayson Knapp said the team had initially struggled to come up with product ideas, but once one of them had the concept, the rest fell into place.

"We just loved it, and we knew if we loved it other people would too."

The team's main objective was to make safe-sex more fun, with their research showing teens would feel more comfortable buying condoms from a friend than at a supermarket or pharmacy.

The team plans to sell three types of condom decorations: a tape measure with the slogan "Measure the Pleasure", a tuxedo with the slogan "Suit It Before You Shoot It", or glow-in-the-dark, which Knapp said was "like a lightsaber".

They will be sold in a customised "Willy Nelson" box with one condom, one pouch of lubricant, and a pamphlet detailing the risks of STI and explaining where people can get a check-up.

He said the dragons seemed to love their product, and the presentation was made easier when the team "cracked a few jokes".

"They [the dragons] asked if we would have celebrity endorsements, and one of us asked whether they would like to help."

With the money, the team planned to buy their first run of the condoms from overseas, and begin selling in three weeks.

Competitors were marked on their presentation skills and on the quality of their business plan.

The top scoring team on the night was Ethical Mall, a team providing an alternative to Trade Me focused on ethically produced goods, who secured $500 funding.

YES regional co-ordinator Robert Panzer said there was an interesting mix of products at this year's competition. The Willy Nelson team had a clear vision and a fun presentation, and their link with family planning and safe sex had also helped them succeed, he said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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