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Winning and losing

Is “winning” always a good thing? Here we discuss the benefits of failure.

We’ve been having a discussion about ‘winning” and “not winning”. What does it look like in your business, school or community?   How do you respond when things don’t quite work out.

Sometimes it is not about competition – for some public sector organisations “not winning” maybe a downgrade in the audit or not achieving key goals.  For the last five years schools in Welwyn Hatfield compete in the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.   This year there was a prize for the overall winner.  The winning team didn’t raise most money from fundraising.  Neither did they have the best prepared presentation. It was the grit and determination of the team to succeed – at times in spite of the School hierarchy – that convinced the judges.

In a very real sense all of the teams that took part won.   Our latest video, shows some of the lessons that the young people took from their involvement with the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

The message from our business judges was that in business, winning and losing are regular occurrences and cannot be disguised from the future workforce. Here at Red Potato we’ve had more than our share of failures, which have at times translated into costly financial losses and more importantly repetitional damage. Those failures were not comfortable but they have become deeply seared into the organisation. We have learnt from those failures to improve processes and procedures so the mistakes are not repeated. That is the very uncomfortable truth about failure: it can be a very powerful force that drives you to improve. Maybe Young People need to fail more in order to find their real success.

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Perseverance key to success for the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentices

Perseverance central to success

Congratulations to all the teams in the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.   This is the fourth year Red Potato have worked with Welwyn Hatfield Council to deliver the Challenge.  Each year there seems to be some common element to the teams; this year it was perseverance.

The Challenge involves groups of young people working together with local businesses and charities over approximately six months.   Each year the groups of young people go through a process of forming and developing as a team.  This year the process of “form, reform, split up, make up” happened again.  What was different though was the perseverance shown by team members. Why is that important? Well, the ability to keep going with the Challenge despite changes to the team, was an important factor in the teams that were succcessful. The ability to keep going, to persevere despite the set backs is important. And crucially that grit and determination to make things work came through, in the team presentations. So, congratulations to all the teams for their achievements! Perseverance is a key quality for potential entrepreneurs. Based upon the 2017/18 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge it looks like the teams have learnt a lot about perseverance, lessons that will help them in their future careers.

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2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge

2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge puts fire in the belly!


The successful launch of the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge was in early October.  The teams are now hard at work putting together their plans and learning about how to fully exploit the resources available to them.

Some of the things that have been happening so far include Halloween cake sales, designing goods for the Christmas markets and of course doughnut sales!

Make sure you follow their progress over the next few months by following the Twitter feed @Dragonappwelhat

In addition to direct sales, we hope the teams will look creatively at how they can use the “resources” at their disposal.

We are lucky to have ‘A’ list SuperDragons who are happy to consider helping the teams!  The Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge is also a great opportunity to practice and develop networking skills.   If any of the teams would like to find out more about how businesses network, they should attend one of the many business network groups in the area.   One of the groups we are happy to recommend attending is the Welwyn B-49 group

If any of the teams wish to find out more please make contact with us via @Dragonappwelhat


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A message to all Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Teams…

“Don’t be a stranger.  Stay in touch, keep the network going”

How many times do we hear people say things like “keep up your networking, because it will pay dividends eventually”.

We start with good intentions to remain in touch, keep the contact going but we get distracted, events happen and then it becomes a bit awkward to re-build the business relationship.  Sounds a bit familiar? Don’t despair, it happens to everyone.

Why is networking important?

So our appeal to the brilliant young people who participated in the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge 2015-16 is to stay in touch with your charity and business Dragon.  You have done a lot of the really hard work by being part of the Dragons Apprentice Challenge.  Now is the time to build upon the relationships you have made with your charity and business Dragon: Tell them what you are doing to develop your skills and competencies. The business Dragon and/or Charity may not reply immediately, but keep going!

Show  your resilience and determination – you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose!

Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge

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Welwyn Hatfield Super Dragons in action!

Behind the Scenes with the Super Dragons…

It wasn’t easier, but we did it!  Due to our high level connections, we were able to smuggle a camera into the Super Dragons lair.  The time-lapse video shows the judges in action as they assess the teams’ business plans.

Most of all, it was a fascinating insight into the issues that are important to the judges.


What is the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge?

The Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge has been running for six years.  The Challenge is open to all the secondary schools and the Further Education College, that are located in the Borough.

What are the three benefits for the students?

The Dragons Apprentice Challenge offers Year 12 students three clear benefits:

  1. experience setting up and running a business
  2. gain job related skills
  3. learn about the work of their designated charity.

Why your business should be involved:


  • The Challenge is a great personal development opportunity for your staff to mentor and advise young people The mentoring can be about issues ranging from communication and leadership through to financial and business risk.
  • The programme offers great marketing opportunities, in addition you can promote your business involvement
  • Businesses that are involved in the Challenge, sometimes find they can build a stronger profile with the local community and local schools through business networking opportunities

Hence, if you run a business in Welwyn Hatfield this project could be especially relevant.

Therefore, why not contact us for a quick “no obligation” chat? We’d really like to meet more Welwyn Hatfield businesses who want to impact locally

Finally to make sure you participate contact us via Twitter @welhatdragonsapp or,  call 01707 357104

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Business owners: do you remember what it was like to be 16?

No, we don’t remember either! But it certainly wasn’t an easy time; so huge congratulations to the young people who ventured into the Dragons lair last week to present their business plans.

Success, Failure and Experience

The teams came to tell the story of how they succeeded, failed and learnt from experience, during the 2016 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

The eight teams had to brave a “friendly” grilling from our Super Dragons: Special thanks to our Super Dragons; Sir Roy Gardner, Robin Webb (St Lukes Hospice), Joanne Price (Barclays Bank) and Terry Michinson (Welwyn Hatfield Times) for “firing” off questions to the teams.

We were genuinely impressed by the preparation and passion shown by the teams.  It was great to hear their honest reflections upon the process.  Some of the young people said that their involvement had inspired them to continue to work with their charity and in some cases the young people said they were going to set up in business when they leave school.   Let’s hope they remember the lessons learnt as part of the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

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Well done to all the Teams who participated in the 2015 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge!  Red Potato were pleased to be a business partner with Welwyn Hatfield Council to deliver the programme again this year.

The Challenge requires local schools to work with local businesses and charities with the aim of growing £100 “seed capital” into at least £1000.  All the proceeds from the Team activities are given to the charity that the team is paired with for the duration of the competition.   At the Awards event, it was great to hear about the strong relationship that had been built and that many of the schools said they would continue to work with the charity, even though this year’s Challenge is now over.

You can get a flavour of the excitement by viewing the Awards night story!



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Working in Partnership with Councils

Judgement Day at the #LGCAwards: We were really happy when asked to be part of the Welwyn Hatfield Council presentation to the Local Government Chronicle Awards panel in #London.  During January the team (composed of Welwyn Hatfield Council and Red Potato staff) put in the time to prepare and rehearse our pitch to the judges.  It was great to have the support of the Welwyn Hatfield Council CEO who quizzed us hard, before approving our final presentation.   Red Potato had helped the Council engage local businesses with an innovative scheme for young people to gain experience of being an entrepreneur.  The young people gained valuable experience which will help them in their future careers and the businesses gained a useful insight into the mindset of “Millennials”, as customers and potential employees.   Red Potato has conducted initial research that shows that a typical Return on Investment for businesses who participated as a staggering 81.8%! In terms of cash that means for every £100 a local business invested in the programme, they could receive benefits worth upto £500! If you’d like to discuss how we could work with your local council and local businesses to achieve similar results do get in touch.   In the meantime we anxiously await the results of the LGC judging process….

On behalf of Red Potato we wish Welwyn Hatfield Council the best of luck, for when the final awards are announced in March.


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Dragons’ Apprentice 2012/13 Challenge pre-launch event June 14th

Following recent interest in the Dragons Apprentice pre-launch event in June we’ve included information on the agenda below:





Background to Dragons’ Apprentice                            Penny Mortimer (Project Mgr)


Why we support Dragons’ Apprentice:

St Columba’s College (for the schools)                       David Gaze

St George’s School (for the schools)                           Kath Wright

My Mustard (for the Dragons)                                    June Cory

St Albans City Youth (for the voluntary groups)            David Wray


What we learned from our experience:

Apprentices from the 2012 challenge including:          

St George’s School                                                   Harry Birch and Holliday Bannister

Boys from St Columba’s College                                

Discussion and Q & A                                                All