Excitement about who will have the most creative ideas and who will win the competition is in the air, and the buzz of this year’s Shark Tank event can be heard throughout campus.
According to Shark Tank’s project manager, junior Taylor Schuster, “Wheaton Shark Tank exists to engage students from all disciplines and experience levels in addressing the world’s brokenness through the means of innovation and entrepreneurship. We purpose to encourage the Wheaton College community to feel not only excited, but empowered to create business ideas that impact the world in a tangible, positive way.”
Shark Tank offers an opportunity to network with other like-minded students who may wish to support or contribute to the business plans of others. It also connects students with a vast network of alumni and friends of Wheaton College who are passionate about entrepreneurship. Finally, Shark Tank provides a window into the dreams, ideas and aspirations of Wheaton College students.
Wheaton Shark Tank was created last year based on the television show “Shark Tank.” The Tech and Finance Council of Student Government sponsored the event with a $2,000 grant to promote entrepreneurship on campus. Schuster said the turnout was surprisingly big, as 16 groups “from a wide array of disciplines applied with diverse business ideas” participated in the fall event. Out of the six groups that were selected to present at the December event, Williston Optics by then-sophomores Moriah Gonzalez, Hannah Kellner and Eliana Schulze, won the event. This “created a lot of momentum for this year’s Shark Tank,” Schuster added.
This year, the Shark Tank committee is “hoping to run with last year’s success and make a more holistic series of events,” Schuster said. The Student Alumni Board is managingShark Tank and is also partnering with Opus, Wheaton College’s new center for Faith and Vocation on campus.
Applications for the fall event were due on Wednesday, and the first Shark Tank event will be held on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Coray Alumni Gymnasium.
“Groups will present shorter business pitches in front of a large audience consisting of students, faculty, community members, and alumni,” according to Schuster.
Schuster continued, “Two $1,000 audience choice awards will be provided by Opus to one for-profit and one non-profit business idea. In addition, a small number of winners will be selected to enter an incubation period leading up to a spring Shark Tank event. In this incubation period, the Student Alumni Board and Opus will provide direct mentorship and skill coaching to these groups, ensuring they are well prepared to present in front of actual investors, ‘sharks,’ that are willing to offer their own funding and mentorship. These groups will also be able to present at Opus’ Theology of Work Conference in January in order to further polish their pitches and receive powerful feedback.”