THEY took the pressure, held their nerve and emerged triumphant. The successful trio of Patrick O’Shaughnessy, Patrick Brynes and Aaron Coughlan lifted the trophy in the national Junior Achievement Awards and brought it back to their school, the Salesian College in Pallaskenry, for the second year in a row.
“We thought we might be up there with a chance,” Patrick O’Shaughnessy revealed afterwards. But there was jubilation, and a little relief, when their mini-company, FARM, with its innovative product, a cow-tail lifter was declared the winner.
“I couldn’t really describe it. It was really, really good,” Aaron Coughlan said.
“There was good competition and there were at least two other companies in the running. I don’t know whether it was our innovation or the combination of Patrick, Patrick and myself.”
Now, they will go on to represent Ireland in the European Junior Awards in London in July, hoping, once more, to repeat the success of last year’s winners, also from the Salesian College, the Sign4Life mini-company.
So, no pressure then? “That will be a bit harder,” Patrick O’Shaughnessy conceded.
But while their fellow company director, Patrick Byrnes was recuperating from surgery, the other two were very clear about what they needed to do over the next two months.
Their priority now is to tie down a manufacturer for their finished prototype, to supply the orders they have already received and to push sales higher.
And they are confident about their product which, they say, is safer than any other current product.
It is safer for the farmer, better for the cow and does away with the need for a second person, thus helping to save money, the young entrepreneurs contend.
It is a product which has already won the approbation of working farmers and they have high hopes for it and for commercial success.
“We were thrilled. We were gobsmacked, that the school would win two years in a row, and with two totally different products,” principal Paddy O’Neill said. And he predicted a bright future for the boys’ product which he believes has a long-term usage: “Cows are the same all over the world.”
Paul Whooley, who teaches the business programme to Transition Year and mentors the Junior Achievement projects was equally pleased with his students.
“They showed the energy, determination and enthusiasm that are required, particularly in this day and age, to get a new idea off the ground,” he said.
Junior Achievement is a not-for-profit organisation which operates internationally promoting entrepreneurship among young people.