Marketing flair takes Rees far
A Nelson College student has taken on social media marketing for businesses around the world, winning top spot at a student business awards competition.
Rees Vinsen, 17, was named winner of the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme's "Dragons Den" at the Theatre Royal this week.
The event saw 27 different teams from business studies classes in local schools, pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.
The students set up and run their own business for a year. They create real products or services, compile and implement a business plan and make real profits or losses.
Nelson College had 12 teams entered, and took out five of the six top places.
Garin College had four teams entered, Nelson College for Girls had two, Nayland five and Waimea three. The top six were given $500 in "seed" money to invest to further develop their product and business.
Rees' company, Next SMC - Social Media Consultancy was developed last year as part of his business studies class and he has been collecting clients and offering them a range of services including website building and social media marketing.
He said the business was easy to set up and he would continue to run it while studying a bachelor of commerce at Auckland University next year.
He also studies accounting, statistics and economics at Nelson College, but is self-taught when it comes to the graphic design and social media marketing that he offers through Next SMC. He is adding his skills to a growing industry.
"Social media is the premier form of advertising these days. It's how many businesses can connect with their customers on a more personal level."
Each job is personally customised. He will arrange a consultation, to find out what is needed, and then tell his client what he can do for them. He will then produce a plan, then develop and implement it. This may mean designing a website, creating graphics for digital marketing or checking out the competition.
Rees says he has "done well" with the consultancy so far. He has worked with local businesses including Nelson College, The Truck, Nelson Distillery and Crossfit Whakatu. He has also picked up clients in the US, Canada and parts of Europe.
He was working with some high profile New Zealand companies, but could not reveal who they were until they had signed the contracts.
Rees has even employed three staff members, fellow Nelson College students who he has on commission. They could pick up work when he was too busy.
He was "thrilled" with the result at the competition.
"If you look at the high calibre of the competition, the judges had to make a very hard call."
Nelson College business studies teacher Jarrod Aberhart said he was "pretty stoked" that five out of the top six places went to his students.
Aberhart said his students had "outstanding levels of professionalism." He said some of the work the students were doing, like Rees' social media work, was beyond his own abilities.
He helped the students out as much as he could, by giving them feedback, helping them with ideas and sorting out their accounting and finances.
Setting up meetings and contacts were a big part of the job as well, he said.
Aberhart said the students that had done well were "very dedicated" to their work.
"They are here one period a day, then most of them are back in their free periods, intervals, lunch time and before and after school to work on their businesses."
The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme‘s regional coordinator and event organiser Robert Panzer said the standards were high at the competition.
The judges Bill Findlater (Economic Development Agency), Stephen Paul (BNZ), Jack Martin (Wild Tomato), Nic John (NMIT) and Rachel Reese (Mayor NCC) summed up the evening as "really motivating" and the presentations demonstrated that there is a great outlook for future entrepreneurs.
Results: First place Rees Vinsen Next SMC - Social Media Consultancy, from Nelson College.
Second, Top Gains Nutrition - High Protein Sauce: ceo Callan Keenan from Nayland College.
Equal third: Bosh; Fashionable Menswear clothing Harry Fergusson from Nelson College; Bean: Organic Skincare: Bex Gidall from Nelson College/Nelson College for Girls; Allure: Fishermans soap - Bob Anderson from Nelson College; Ovascea: Non alcoholic beverages - Brad North from Nelson College.
The Nelson Mail