Students enrolled in the Introduction to Business class impressed a panel of local business leaders in a recent “Shark Tank” exercise. The students pitched ideas, presented financial plans and sought investment from the “Sharks” for unique businesses selling scented bracelets, nachos, technology support and hunting experiences. The panel evaluated the viability of the business plans and indicated if they were worthy of investment.
Members of the panel were Lisa Shafer, vice president, operations, Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce; Todd Weir, assistant vice president of lending, INB; Drew Kenny, assistant team leader/realtor, Kathy Garst Sales Team, The Real Estate Group; Adrienne Murphy, secretary/treasurer, and Brian Murphy, president, Vancil-Murphy Funeral Home.
Instructor Darlene Sim emphasized that whether or not the Sharks chose to “invest” in the businesses, their expertise and advice would benefit all of the students.
Students Claudia Blanford of Jacksonville, Richetta Holmes (Team Lead) of Springfield, Luke Kracik of Springfield, Nathan Walker of Carrollton and Jack Hirlinger of Springfield, proposed a business in Chicago that manufactured scented bracelets.
The rubber bracelets would come in several colors and be infused with various scents for females and males. The target audience would be ages 4-college age. One Shark was willing to partially invest if they would consider targeting a 4-preteen age group.
Marc Kirbach of Springfield, Reece Warren of Springfield and Caleb Collins-Taapken (Team Lead) of Springfield (Isaac Drum of Rochester not pictured) proposed a fast-casual restaurant called Nacho Stop. They envisioned starting the business in Texas and targeting college students and millennials. However, the Sharks declined to invest, recommending the students locate the business closer to home and start smaller, perhaps with a food truck.
Cora Brillhart of Springfield, Richard Tego of Raymond, Filip Kates of Nokomis, Haley Gibson (Team Lead) of Petersburg and Arti Desai of Jacksonville posed the question, “Have a techache?” As a solution, they proposed a business called iHelp offering technology classes with a target audience of older adults. Three levels of classes – beginner, intermediate and advanced – would be offered, along with individual assistance with tech support. The Sharks recommended they not focus only on older adults and emphasize individual assistance more than classes.
David Everson of Springfield, Nathan Meyer of Jacksonville, Adam Gleason of Pleasant Plains, Sofia Torricelli (Team Lead) of Springfield and Alexis Bryant of Athens proposed a hunting experience in Texas called G & M Farms. Individuals would pay to hunt wild pigs and deer on the property on either guided or unguided tours. The students sought investment to build a barn-type structure with four bedrooms so hunters could spend the night. One Shark was willing to invest in this business, recommending that they use some of the funds to purchase a helicopter.
“The students have worked the entire semester on this project and were very excited about it,” said Sim. Dr. Victor Broderick, dean of social sciences and business, added, “In my estimation, the Shark Tank event was wildly successful, actually launched some entrepreneurs, the panelists were outstanding, and even students who didn’t get funded learned a lot.”