Team Atlas, from Ballakermeen High School, has been crowned Junior Achievement Student Company of the Year 2022.
More than 100 sixth-form students from Ballakermeen High School, Castle Rushen High School, QE II High School, St Ninian’s High School and Ramsey Grammar School participated in the Company Programme, the world’s top entrepreneurial programme for young people in education.
Sponsored by HSBC Isle of Man and organised by Manx charity Junior Achievement, the company programme is supported by volunteer business mentors who donate their time to work with the teams.
Team Altas, which includes Mika Chen, Joshua Holden, Deni Petrova, Cormac Ewan, Joshua Kewley and Georgia Harding, competed against 23 student companies to take the title after impressing the judges with their product ‘H2sOap’.
Think of an effervescent tablet about the size of a large Berocca and you get the idea of H2sOap.
Team manager, Mika Chen, says: ‘You can either buy the tablets on their own or they come with our glass dispenser. You put the tablet in water and wait for it to dissolve and it creates foaming hand soap.’
The idea of fizzy soap is not just a gimmick but a serious attempt to mitigate some of the harm being caused to our oceans, as Mika explains.
She says: ‘We were very aware of the climate change issues and the amount of single use plastic in the oceans: over a billion soap bottles each year are thrown away so we wanted to reduce that number and we just were thinking about everyday things that we could do.’
H2sOap also causes less CO2 emissions in the transportation of soap bottles because there is no water weight and it’s also very cost effective for the consumer.
They came up with the product after experimenting with numerous chemicals in the science lab, doing their research and testing and improving their recipe until they were satisfied. Then they used 3D printers to make templates and poured in silicone to form the moulds for the tablets.
Junior Achievement is not just about having a great idea, it’s also running a company and making a profit, so H2sOap is being marketed and sold via the Atlas team’s website.
Mika says: ‘We make the tablets whenever the orders come through. We can make 25 at once in each mould and we’ve got two moulds. We are hoping to improve our production process and we’re thinking of building a robot but it’s very pricey.’
She explains how the company’s roles have been assigned: ‘There are two team managers, myself and Josh Holden. Josh Kewley and Cormac Ewan have been doing a lot of the testing and research but because we’re such a small team everybody is involved in the manufacturing process. I also do a lot of marketing; Deni Petrova and Georgia Harding do a lot of the design, and Josh is also doing sales.’
Team Atlas will also be representing the Isle of Man in Estonia, in July.
Mika says: ‘We’re going to Challenge Estonia for the European JA finals against countries from across Europe.
‘So we have to make as many sales as we can before then because, to be an island company competing with the likes of France and German and all these massive countries, we do have to work a lot harder to get our things on the market and get them sold.
‘We’ve got our website and people can order from that so, fingers crossed, the island gets behind us because we want to make our mark in Europe.’
Win or lose, it’s been a great experience for the team, Mika says: ‘We were all best friends beforehand. It is quite difficult with such a small team as there’s so much to do and we are students as well so alongside that it is really hard to balance, but everybody has really pulled their weight and we haven’t had any major arguments.’
l You can buy H2sOap and dispensers online at www.atlasiom.co.uk