Feb 14 2013 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
SELLING hot drinks mugs with cheeky puns on the side has been a profitable venture for a group of students.
Twenty-two girls from North London Collegiate School, Edgware, set up sMUG, one of three companies at the school created for the Young Enterprise competition.
They designed and produced colourful insulated mugs for beverages such as coffee, tea and cocoa, printed with a range of catchy slogans.
The Young Enterprise initiative gets year 12 pupils together to establish firms to conceive, manufacture and sell a unique product so they can practise real world business skills and solve genuine industry problems.
Nicky Robertson, sMUG company secretary, said: “We started in around October. Before our first meeting we told everyone to think of what we could produce. Because it’s winter, we decided on travel mugs.
“They feature witty slogans on the silicon sleeves like ‘How YOU brewin’?’ and ‘You’ve got a blend in me’.
“We’ve got a range in different colours and we have about 15 designs so far.
“It’s a ceramic mug so you can reuse it and you’re not wasting paper cups – and you get a discount from places like Starbucks for bringing your own mug.”
At a national trade fair in Milton Keynes last month, sMUG – which already has £1,000 in takings – won the best company award and was runner-up for best product.
Nicky said: “We had a lot of problems in the beginning and couldn’t find a manufacturer who was prepared to produce it, but we overcame everything.
“The mugs are now manufactured in Manchester, so it’s a UK product. We sell lots at school and you can buy online for £7.99.”
The company even has a website – www.smugco.com – where it is selling its mugs.
The other two Young Enterprise companies at the school in Canons Drive are Brain Food, selling a healthy nutritional snack bar mixing dried fruits and nuts, and Cuppacolour, which offers mugs covered in thermochromic paint that changes colour to reveal a message when filled with hot water.
They will be competing in the Harrow and Brent area section of Young Enterprise, and hopefully the London-wide and the nationwide finals, although the winners are not simply the group which makes the most profit.
The school’s Young Enterprise co-ordinator is politics and economics teacher Stephen Goward. “All the companies are doing well,” he said.
“Last year, one of our companies made the national final so the bar has been set high for this year’s companies to recreate that success.”
The North London Collegiate School teams showed off their wares during a Young Enterprise trade fair at Tesco in Station Road, Harrow, on Saturday.
Among the other schools represented was Swaminarayan, of Brentfield Road, Neasden. There, a company called The Next Generation company is designing, producing and selling hand-decorated candles.