Last Thursday Feb. 18, senior Mary Elizabeth Goodell took first place in Wheaton’s annual Shark Tank competition. Goodell won $3,000, as well as a full ride scholarship to Praxis Entrepreneurship Academy in L.A. this summer.
The annual academy is a five day event during which top undergraduates from around the country for lectures on faith, culture and startups from “world-class entrepreneurs and cultural thinkers.”
Goodell’s company, Flourish, aims to use “ethical labor practices and sustainable production methods to produce quality, classic dresses.” The company will hire victims of sexual violence in order to help them develop professional skills and increase future career opportunities.
The idea for Flourish came about when Goodell began to understand the limitations that victims of sexual violence experience in achieving economic independence. Many of these women have criminal records as a result of being forced into prostitution through human trafficking.
Goodell said, “Someone had to find a way for these women to get jobs that would give them the resources to succeed, and I realized that I could be that someone.”
Now, she is focusing most of her time on finding others who share this passion to “commit time and talent” to get the company running. She is also seeking resources to help her learn more about job training, retail and the impact of sexual violence on victims.
Second and third place winners Thunder Strength and Newfangled were awarded $1,000 and $500, respectively. Juniors Mike Sell and Zach Lindquist developed a vest to aid weightlifters in performing the belly toss. A prototype is currently being constructed and the two plan to develop other training products in the future.
Third place winners, senior Emily and freshman Elizabeth Lengel, created Newfangled, a program that “combines workshop-style curriculum and a streamlined social media app” to help senior adults connect to and use social media. The two were motivated to create an easier way for seniors to access social media after seeing how isolating a nursing home environment was for their grandparents. The app is currently in the beginning stages of development.
Last year’s winning team, Proxi, has been beta testing their app and hosting student workshops. The newest version of the app was launched at Thursday night’s Shark Tank event.