Week 14: Shark Tank

Last night I attended MU’s Shark Tank event, and six student teams presented. They all did exceedingly well, and I was thankful I wasn’t doing the judging. The nice thing is that even the students who didn’t win got to hear some great advice from the judges (Crystal Weaver, Prince Street Cafe and Passenger Coffee, a smart-looking man involved in Music for Everyone, and one other very fine older gentleman whose position and name I can’t recall). After the students presented, the judges all had spot-on questions.

I was most impressed by CommonGeek‘s presentation, which I suppose is not a surprise considering the student presenting is already an entrepreneurial journalist. (Also, I’m a journalism student and so I’m slightly biased.) Although he didn’t have any detailed slides on budgeting and/or fundraising, when asked about it afterwords, his answers proved he had certainly considered his plan. What I liked best was CommonGeek’s branding — there was clearly a lot of effort put in there (which is important, considering all the journalism sites out there). Overall, CommonGeek definitely seemed like a viable business venture.

The other venture that seemed most viable was the wrestling student’s plan to open a wrestling gym/studio, or perhaps join forces with another ordinary gym. Although his powerpoint was dreadfully scant, his presentation was very interesting. A place for wrestlers to practice (when there are practically none around, especially where he lives in NJ) is a need. The student knew his stuff, too — “PA is the nation’s leading wrestling state,” he said, and I noticed even the judges were surprised to learn this. His plan was also relatively inexpensive compared to the other students’.

When I attended the original 60-second pitch, I thought the roller skate/ice skate combo was the best entrepreneurial idea. But after hearing the extent of the team’s budget needs (which I ought to have considered in the beginning), I became skeptical. Patents are indeed very pricey, as are lawyers. But how long would the turn-around be for a project of that scope? Very extensive, it appeared.

I’m glad I attended the event — it reminded me once again how important money is and how avoiding it is a completely unsuccessful idea…


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