Senior Price Gunn emerged as the judge’s choice winner at last Friday’s Shark Tank, receiving $3,000 to develop his idea — Fishtripfinder — into a website that would consolidate all aspects of fishing trip planning in one place. Sophomores Nathan Didier and Katherine Davis, who pitched the Lifetime Bible Journal, received the audience choice award and won a trip to Praxis Academy — an entrepreneur intensive in Los Angeles. The Center for Vocation and Career sponsored the judge’s choice award, and Opus sponsored the audience choice award.
Leading up to the event, each of the six student teams spent four months developing their ideas with help from 15 alumni and were allowed 10 minutes to present the result of their projects to the packed crowd in Coray Gym and answer questions from the four alumni judges — Rhona DiCamillo, Josh Fort, L. Brian Jenkins and Philip Nussbaum.
Gunn pitched his idea by explaining the demand for an easier way to plan a fishing trip through his own experience: “I want to turn the four to five hours I spent planning into four to five minutes.” According to Gunn, fishing is a $48 billion industry which he has participated in since childhood. Gunn’s combination of passion for fishing and careful development and research of his project won over the “shark tank.”
After winning, Gunn exclaimed, “I feel like the hard work has paid off,” though he still has a long way to go. Although Gunn had a sample of the website he is creating, he still needs to attract big venders to his idea and persuade them to join his project. Gunn explained that, “The next step will depend on how much additional capital I can raise … I want to hire a team of part-time individuals to really get this off the ground. If that capital is too hard to raise in the immediate future, I’m going to bootstrap it myself for the first year or two.”
Though Gunn has more work to do, Rhona DiCamillo, one of the four “sharks,” said that the judges were drawn to his idea because, “We thought that it was just a great plan, that clearly there was a market out there for based on his experience … that has a lot of potential.” She believes that the prize money the judges awarded Gunn, “will go a long way in putting together what will be an extremely professional and fairly complicated website to design.”
Davis and Didier were just as “elated” with the result of the competition. They pitched a new way to take Bible and sermon notes that thrilled the audience. They created a journal which is organized by verse, available for each book of the Bible, to eliminate the problem of losing notes in big journals, while also “keeping your Bible margins clear.” They plan to start by selling these journals individually for $8 each and eventually sell a seven volume set that covers the entire Bible. Davis exclaimed that “We’re going to Los Angeles for a week to work on our idea … so I’m just thrilled.” She also expressed excitement for the future of the product, saying “the next step in our project is generating more buzz about the product, getting more customers, spreading the word about it.”
Freshman Emma Halcomb, who attended the event, said that she enjoyed hearing each of the pitches.“It seemed like a really interesting opportunity for students to present their ideas.” Although Gunn won the prize, Halcomb felt that all the presentations were “extremely well thought-out.”