Bright young business brains battled to be named best in the area at an annual enterprise challenge this week.
Students have spent the academic year running their own companies as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, competing against other teams at various stages.
Nine of the best businesses in the South Downs and Arun and Chichester areas were judged on Monday, with the top two advancing to the county finals.
Madeleine Mills, West Sussex Young Enterprise manager, said: “It never fails to amaze me how well they do. I do find that young people sometimes get bad press but they are amazing.
“The standard was really high again this year.”
The event saw teams from Worthing’s Davison High School for Girls, Steyning Grammar School, Lancing College and Bishop Luffa, in Chichester, take part.
For the first time, the South Downs and Arun and Chichester branch combined their area finals, leading to a ‘bigger and better’ event.
Profit-turning ventures included a mobile photo booth, affordable Pandora-style charm bracelets, stylish sportswear and reusable shopping bags to combat the introduction of the five pence charge for plastic bags.
Judges interviewed teams on their business journey, viewed their trade stands and listened to polished presentations before handing out a series of awards, from best overall company to best business plan.
Adur and Worthing councils director for the economy Martin Randall, who helped judge the entrants, said: “I am extremely impressed with the professionalism and the quality of the submissions and the stands and to adopt this real life approach to running a company has to stand them in good stead for the future.
“The ability to operate in a commercial manner is going to be a core skill for many of these young people.”
More than 500 Sussex students took part this year, with 42 companies set up.
The overall winner of the South Downs branch was Charm to Chain, of Davison, while photo booth company Zoom, of Bishop Luffa, took the plaudits in the Arun and Chichester area.
Charm to Chain saw a gap in the jewellery market to cater for those who felt the popular Pandora brand was expensive for young people.
They posted a profit of more than £500 and scooped awards for the best website, governance, business plan, trade stand and report and accounts.
Managing director Lydia Yallop, 15, who also won the young achiever award, said: “We worked really hard and it was nice for it to pay off.
“We all really worked as a team, so that is what really matters.”
Zoom, which made a profit of £200, having to overturn high set up costs.
It also won awards for its business plan, trade stand, report and accounts and presentation.
Finance director Tom Dawtrey, 17, said: “We are very proud. It was a great product and we had full commitment to selling them.”
The teams will advance county final, bidding for a place in the regional and national finals.
The national champions will represent the UK on the international stage in Europe in August.
Other awards included:
Best branding: Spectrum (Davison)
Governance: Highly commended - Wacky Waxes (Davison) and Seasons (Davison)
Best product: Colour in Sussex (Steyning Grammar)
South Downs entrepreneurship: Colour in Sussex
Best presentation: Highly commended - Wacky Waxes/Winner - Seasons