Student Entrepreneurs Compete "Shark Tank"-Style

Student Entrepreneurs Compete "Shark Tank"-Style

| By: Daley-Hinkens, Carmelyn M

It had all of the makings of an episode of “Shark Tank”: contestants, judges, business pitches, and prizes.

In this case, the competition was the NEW Ideas Pitch Challenge, a regional pitch event Fox Valley Technical College created in partnership with other two-year campuses including Lakeshore Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The four colleges came together to create a venue where aspiring entrepreneurs could market their ideas in a competitive environment against peers from other colleges, and in front of judges.

This year’s inaugural event included six students who pitched everything from fish hooks and non-toxic wood products, to publishing services and residential care apartment complexes. Held virtually, students each had four minutes to promote their idea before the assembled virtual audience. Students then fielded questions from three judges who scored the presentation based on five criteria. The top three winners:

 First Place: Jared Ott ($1,000)

Program:  Dual credit student at Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC), senior at Fond du Lac STEM Academy

Pitch: Ott Fishing Hooks

Ott Fishing Hooks are specially designed hooks that include a second barb about half way up the hook. The added barb helps attach live bait more securely, so fish have a more difficult time stealing the bait. Jared has secured a U.S. design patent for his uniquely designed fish hook.

Second Place: Emily Nechodom ($500)

Program: Business Management at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC)

Pitch: Fire Bricks

Fire Bricks are made from recycled paper and sawdust and pressed into a brick form. They can be used in a wood-fired fireplace or firepit, or easily transported on camping trips with no mess or restrictions.

Third Place: Bryan Ford ($250)

Program:  Business Management/Entrepreneurship at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC)

Pitch: Peninsula Autism Academy, LLC

Peninsula Autism Academy is an agency servicing families in Door and Kewaunee counties. It offers Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) treatment to children on the autism spectrum, plus caregiver training, respite and parents’ night out care for children with special needs.

While the three winners took home cash prizes, launching a regional competition like this produced a much bigger win for all involved.

“The partner colleges worked well together in creating this opportunity for our students to get exposure to the business community in a competition like this,” said FVTC Entrepreneurship Instructor Doug Schacht. “It was exciting to see the collaborative spirit each college brought to support these aspiring entrepreneurs.”

FVTC hosted this first year’s event with support from American National Bank Fox Cities and the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation. Hosting duties will rotate among all the colleges going forward.

Judges this year included Laura Beyer from 360U Softball, Chris Nissen from American National Bank Fox Cities, and Bryan Stafford from Fava Tea.