Business whiz puts skills to test

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 14/06/2013

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Nelson College head boy and business studies mogul Jacob Bignell is a natural behind a boardroom table.

The 17-year-old joins 79 other Kiwi student entrepreneurs in Auckland today at the international Enterprise in Action business competition.

The competition is open to teens in the Young Enterprise Scheme, which helps students set up and run their own small company.

Jacob is sole director of Shark Bait, a company he created at Nelson College this year, which will make shark fin-shaped foam hats to sell to fans at Tasman Makos home games.

He hopes to pump out prototypes within two weeks, and be fully stocked at the start of the rugby season.

"It's easy money; everyone wants to support them," he said.

The Young Enterprise Scheme was not like work for the business-minded student leader, but was an opportunity, he said.

"For me, business isn't just a job. I like doing it.

"It's the same at school - I like going to business classes. And getting credits for making profit is awesome."

He was nominated to compete in Auckland by business studies teacher, and former Tasman Mako, Jarrod Aberhart, who said Jacob was his top-performing student last year.

Jacob said he studied calculus, statistics, business, and economics, because he knew that was the best way to prepare himself for the real world of balance sheets, income and overheads.

Terry Shubkin, head of the Young Enterprise Trust, said Jacob would have to team up with nine strangers to develop a business summary which they would pitch to a panel of judges.

"These students are only 16 or 17 years old but they are amazing - in just 12 hours they will examine major international issues and come up with a product or service that answers each of the challenges."

Economic Development Minister Minister Steven Joyce will open and speak at the competition, held at Massey University's Albany campus.

Jacob plans to complete a marketing and entrepreneurship degree at Otago University, where he starts next year.

Last year he managed part of his parents' cherry business, Eden Orchards.

This summer he was set to take over their top of the south sales operations. This will put him in charge of more than 20 people.

"I've been working with that for the last eight years.

"It's what got me into business. It's just a job I like doing. Plus, cherries are awesome."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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