Every Friday, students in Clarissa Clark’s Entrepreneurship class at Chelsea High School have watched and discussed episodes of the popular show Shark Tank, where individuals pitch their ideas to the “sharks” in the hopes of obtaining investment funding. The students took what they learned watching the show and recreated the concept by pitching their own entrepreneurship ideas to local business and community leaders who played the role of the sharks.
The Shark Tank presentation was the student’s final exam for the class. Clark provided a scoring rubric for the guest sharks to use, which graded the students based on the strength of the idea and their presentation skills.
Making up the panel of sharks were Jane Ann Mueller, City of Chelsea; Tony Picklesimer, Mayor of Chelsea; Christine Ferguson and Mike Rickman, Brookwood Shelby Baptist Medical Center; Brittani Braden, South Shelby Chamber of Commerce; Amy Smith and Kaylon Mikula, Southern Company; Yvonne Murray, 58 Inc., Butch Mayhew, Daxko; and Phillip Moore, United States Army.
The sharks heard many different ideas for new businesses or inventions, including ice cream that doesn’t melt as quickly and a triangle-shaped candy bar creation called Three Peaks. Additional ideas included a sports bag-cooler combination called the Booler, and a device called the Shamoo that would combine a Sharpie marker, highlighter, pen, and pencil into one gadget.
Christian Mann and Ryan Stevens presented their idea for a company called UV-Innovation, which would produce solar-powered cellphone cases that recharge phones. Mann and Stevens outlined the concept behind the idea, discussed anticipated production expenses, and shared their marketing strategies for getting the cases into the hands of busy students and business leaders who frequently need to recharge their phone batteries. After listening to the pitch, Mayor Tony Picklesimer told the students they were definitely onto something with their idea.
“My phone is so important to me that I have to have chargers everywhere… at home, at my office, in my truck,” the mayor said. “You are right on track with your idea. It’s fantastic.”
The sharks were also impressed with Kenide Flippo’s idea for The Barberz Lounge, a traveling barbershop. Flippo’s idea would target busy individuals or those who simply can’t or don’t want to get out for a haircut, but would prefer for their barber to come directly to them.
After listening to her idea, the sharks gave her some feedback about the idea, which Flippo hopes to turn into a reality as a career. The sharks suggested she take her traveling barber shop to employee lounges where busy individuals could duck in during a break for a quick cut. They also suggested she look into the idea of a converting a truck, similar to a food truck, into a traveling barber shop.
W.O.W. (Whiches on Wheels) Food Truck, which would serve serve fresh, healthy, and inexpensive sandwiches was the idea of students Seth Steele and Rachel Hitson. The duo provided a breakfast sandwich sample to the panel, which was made with bacon, egg, tomato, and avocado.
“I noticed there was bacon on the sandwich, which makes me very happy,” said guest shark Butch Mayhew after trying a bite of the sandwich.
Steele and Hitson provided the shark panel with details on how much the investment would be to start the business, including the cost of the truck, appliances, permits, and business licenses. The students said they would target local events and festivals, as well as Food Truck Fridays at the Summit shopping center.
Steven Brown, an Eagle Scout, presented his idea for a portable air conditioner that could be used when camping. Brown brought a prototype of the invention, which he constructed using a bucket with a lid, some plastic pipes, and a battery operated fan mounted facing downward on the inside of the lid. The cool air would be created by filling the insulated bucket with a block of ice, or ice cubes. The fan would blow down on the ice and the cool air would be expelled from the pipes coming out of the side of the bucket.
Brown’s presentation was a huge hit with the sharks due to his quirky sense of humor and use of puns during his presentation. “I am asking you to help me ‘coldly’ go where no one has gone before,” Brown told the sharks with a clever play on the famous line from Star Trek.
Students Josh Gore and Anthony Nettuno shared the idea behind Goreoutfitters, an adventure travel company that is already in business. The students have combined their love of hiking, rock climbing, camping, rafting and fishing into a business where they take groups who might be interested in doing those activities, but don’t want to invest in the equipment that is needed to do them.
“We provide the equipment and teach them how to do some of these activities,” Gore explained.