Last semester, 10 teams faced off in the College of Business’s fifth annual Shark Tank competition. For the first time, the competition was held at West Campus.
The judges were Mariel Diaz Castro (CEO of Triditive), Nike’s Cameron Dukes, Mike Klehm (former General Electric), Brendan McAuley (CEO of Chippo Golf), and David Salinas (founder and CEO of The District).
Freshmen taking the course, Business 121, were put into groups and took part in the semester-long challenge. After creating a product or service, each group surveyed other students to see if their idea would be profitable. They also constructed a marketing plan, analyzed the finances they would need in order to create their product, and developed their own website.
When the students had their ideas ready to be pitched, a poster session was held.
“Hundreds of students were there,” said Dean of Business Martha Crawford.
Teams got to explain their product: how it would change things, what the business and accounting model was, and what their target market was.
Judges chose the winners of the poster session and they got to move on to the Shark Tank event.
Each team had its own PowerPoint presentations and pitches. The teams presented their product in front of the judges and students. The groups also had to answer questions from the judges.
“They had eight minutes to present their product idea, the need for their product, their marketing, support for it, and their financials,” said Assistant Professor of Management Valerie Christian.
Christian also said the competition was meant to inspire the students to be creative and come up with an idea that makes sense to investors.
The event was intended to be a fun and constructive way for students to practice publicly pitching their proposals.
“I really enjoyed the presentation. It was a little nerve-racking to have to sell your idea to such accomplished professionals, but we were so confident in our idea and the hard work we had put into it that it wasn’t intimidating,” said freshman Grace Kelliher.
Sacred Heart’s Shark Tank allowed students to see what it is actually like to work in the business field.
“This event was helpful because it was like a trial run for an actual business presentation,” said freshman Olivia Ross.
The course had a main objective for the students.
“They cover the general idea of learning how to do a business plan and becoming more familiar with business,” said Christian.
The affair did not disappoint.
“It was bustling with energy. The students were completely engaged and excited,” said Crawford.
According to Crawford, bringing in music and improving audio-visuals, such as quicker transitions from one PowerPoint to the next, is something that could make the Shark Tank event better.
Kelliher’s team was one of the ones that got to present its concept in the Shark Tank round. Their concept was an app called “My Schedule.”
According to Kelliher, the app uses artificial intelligence to combine students’ assignments on Blackboard and their personal calendar to help them plan their day and organize their limited free time.
“The app might tell a student they have an hour and a half between their Calculus class and their English class, and during that time they should eat lunch and do a reading for their philosophy class that will take approximately 30 minutes. Essentially, it’s an assistant for students,” said Kelliher.
The semester long project taught the students more than just the business side of things.
“I learned how to work as a team. It’s definitely hard to collaborate with seven strangers on a huge project with so many moving parts. It took us a while to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Kelliher. “Once we did, we were able to figure out how to work together to put our best work in the competition.”