School for start-ups - meet the Oxford High students running a company, launching a product (oh, and studying for A Levels)

Kate Whittington , HR Director for Oxford High's Young Enterprise company, Quartz, shares her experiences with us and explains why Young Enterprise and their product Domi-Know is such a bright idea. 

What is Young Enterprise?

Young Enterprise state that they are ‘the UK’s leading charity that empowers young people to harness their personal and business skills’, and I think everyone in  my company would agree.

Young Enterprise programmes are run throughout the UK in many different schools. We took part in the Company Programme (for ages 15-19), which is a year-long process, but there are also shorter workshops and programmes aimed at children as young as 11.

Young Enterprise runs nationwide competitions, which are an opportunity both to compete and to learn from other companies. We have progressed through the City and County rounds, and will compete in the Regional Finals in mid-June.

Last year’s UK winners were Enlighten Hope, from St. Patrick’s College in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, with a set of storybooks which help children and parents to ‘cope in a hopeful way with their child undergoing chemotherapy of radiotherapy’. Previous winning schools have included St Helen’s (London), Southborough High School (South-West London), Tiffin Girls’ School (Kingston, London), St Paul’s School (West London) and Balcarras School (Gloucestershire).

What transferrable skills have we gained?

Whether it’s developing simple skills such as writing minutes or crafting professional emails, or understanding shares, pitching and cash flow, there’s no-one who hasn’t discovered something new.

We’ve learnt how to write company reports and financial statements, how to present to CEOs and halls full of people, and most importantly, how to effectively work in a large team.

A shared passion for our product and a drive to get as far as we can have been the most important tools we could have asked for.

Young Enterprise alumni are twice as likely to start up their own company compared to their peers, and the experience has certainly had a similar effect on many of us. A lot of us had never considered entrepreneurship as a career option before, but it’s now an area which a lot of company members are really interested in.

Seeing the difficulties and the rewards of starting up your own business has inspired us to consider entrepreneurship as an exciting potential career, and several of us are talking about continuing with our product after the official year is through.                

Who are we? Our company and product

We formed our company, Quartz, last September, and are based at Oxford High School. There are sixteen of us (aged between 16-17), with two Managing Directors taking the lead in our weekly meetings. We’ve all adopted different roles, from Company Secretary to Marketing Director, and they’ve each turned out to be of equal importance.

It’s certainly been a learning curve, with a few moments of low morale when we were rejected by companies, and many moments of stress as we hurried to meet deadlines.

Our product is a language-learning game called ‘Domi-Know’, which aims to teach children between the ages of 5-11 basic vocabulary in four different languages. The game is based on dominoes, with players matching foreign language words with corresponding pictures.

Domi-Know takes a wooden 3D cuboid format, an aspect which makes the game more interesting for children to play, and coincidentally should enhance cognitive skills in later life.

We’re hugely excited to now be selling Domi-Know (retail price £25) whilst negotiating deals with manufacturers at home and abroad.

You can buy the game by emailing


Good Luck to Quartz, at the regional finals, from Jessica and Claire at School Hunters, we will be rooting for you!