On Nov. 13, students flocked to Coray Gym to watch as some of Wheaton’s best and brightest were thrown to the sharks. However, Wheaton’s Shark Tank event was no macabre evening. Structured after the popular ABC television program, the event allowed 13 groups of students to present business ideas that they had engineered to a packed audience and a panel of “sharks.” Up for grabs were two $1000 awards, five coveted slots in next spring’s Shark Tank event and the inevitable bragging rights.
Each team had exactly two minutes to propose their intricate business ideas uninterrupted. Then the sharks were set loose, and the panel of judges was free to poke and pry into the teams’ business ideas. The sharks asked tough questions and proposed insightful changes, keeping the teams on their toes. Since the sharks ultimately decided who would return for next spring’s Shark Tank and who would go home, the stakes were high. The competition was so tight that the sharks found that they couldn’t settle for just five finalists, and instead chose six: Aesop’s Table, Curio, Proxi, Rowamp V.2.3, Christian College General Application and The Whole Buffalo.
The audience might not have had a say on who progressed to the next round, but they did hold both $1,000 awards in their hands. After all the teams had presented, audience members were encouraged to vote via text message for their favorite groups while enjoying refreshments from Blackberry Market and I Have a Bean. The two winners, Rowamp V.2.3 and Christian College General Application, each received cash prizes to be invested in further development of their businesses. Josh Rowley, who created and presented the Christian College General Application stated that, “Shark Tank is the reason why this idea is continuing on.” He explained, “I was excited to find out the idea was well received and that it would have resources to move forward. Thanks to Opus for providing the prizes for the event.”
This round of Shark Tank may be over, but Thursday’s six finalists have their work cut out for them. Each has been assigned a mentor to help prepare their business for next spring’s Shark Tank. In the second round, the panel of sharks will be investors, and teams will be competing for their financial backing.
Audience member Gatlin Marlow commented, “I could see any of the winners’ ideas coming to reality once they have funding and help from startup mentors. The difficult part now will be taking their idea and actually implementing it. I’m definitely returning in the spring to see the winners go up against the real sharks.”