Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Johnson & Wales students to pitch their ventures in spirit of Shark Tank

Taking cues from a reality show in which aspiring entrepreneurs present their ideas to would-be investors, nine students at Charlotte's Johnson & Wales University will pitch their enterprises in front of a panel of judges Wednesday for a chance to win $5,000.

Renaissance Executive Forums, an advisory board of top executives, has partnered with the college to host "Shark Fest," billed as a Shark Tank-like event.

The event starts at 5 p.m. at the Hance Auditorium.

Shark Tank is an ABC reality show in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of potential investors, or "sharks." If a panel member is interested in the product, the entrepreneur can strike a deal. If none of the judges are interested, then the entrepreneur leaves the show empty-handed.

Each student at SharkFest has five minutes to make their pitch. Then, the judges will spend an additional five minutes asking questions about their ventures.

Members of REF raised the $16,000 to sponsor the event at a silent auction at the Duke Mansion last December. REF members have also mentored the participating students.

More than 75 students with 57 ventures entered the competition. The first round whittled the competitors down to 20 ventures. Nine students were eventually named finalists.