BUSINESS-minded students have proved their entrepreneurial talents in a competition to set up a successful company.

Pupils from seven schools and a college in Basingstoke and Deane spent seven months setting up their own company, with the aim of creating products or services to make a profit.

The Young Enterprise challenge culminated in a grand final held at the AA headquarters in Basing View, where the teams presented their business to a panel of judges and an audience of almost 100 people.

The best company was announced as Pandemonium, from The Costello School, in Crossborough Hill, and the runner-up was Left Hand, from Brighton Hill Community School, in Brighton Way.

Both teams went through to compete in the county final, where Costello was awarded the best sales and marketing award and Brighton Hill – whose team designed a mobile phone holder – was again declared the runner-up and presented the award for best innovation.

Alison Collington, Young Enterprise manager, said: “They start in September and they have to form a company and appoint directors and raise finance. So it’s running real businesses but within the Young Enterprise programme.

“They come up with a name and products or services. Young Enterprise gives them support along the way and they have a business adviser – someone from the local business community – to support them.”

Events are held throughout the project, including trade fairs in The Malls for teams to sell their products, and a Dragons’ Den-style event to bid for cash.

Students have to pay VAT and taxes to Young Enterprise, which goes back into running the events, but any leftover profit they can keep. They can also sell shares in their company to generate funds.

Mrs Collington said: “We are teaching them to see that in the real world, you can’t just keep your profits. There are always things you have to pay for if you are running a real company.”

Speaking about The Costello School team, Mrs Collington said: “There were 17 of them and what was impressive was the way they worked really well as a team.”

The group made bags using jeans bought cheaply from charity shops, which they customised, and also created seasonal items for Valentine’s Day and Christmas.