"Shark Tank" Competition

Author: Gigot Center

This fall, Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business played host to a “Shark Tank”-esque competition of entrepreneurial ideas ranging from music playing sneakers to a bacon cooking alarm clock.  Ok, so maybe the competition was not as fierce as Mark Cuban’s aforementioned TV show, but the Young Entrepreneurs Elevator Pitch Competition was every bit as entertaining.  The event served as the mid-way point in an entrepreneurship curriculum conducted for local Michiana students in grades 7-12 through a partnership between the Robinson Community Learning Center and the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship.

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The competition featured 15 competitors across two divisions – five for middle school and ten for high school.  The students honed these ideas and pitches over the previous eight weeks in hopes of winning one of three prizes in each division: Best Presentation, Best Idea, and Best Overall.  After tireless hours of brainstorming and practicing, the students were tasked with the tough challenge of presenting to a panel of judges from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.  The judges weren’t afraid to ask tough questions of the students such as “do you expect pushback, or even competition, from major car manufacturers who may not want to share their auto-parts numbering system?”  The students, however, were fully prepared to answer by providing a detailed list of competitors, accurately identifying a target market, or getting as specific as “actually, this information is already readily available to auto-repair shops, so it should be sufficient to populate the database for my app.”

All in all, a great evening was had by the audience, the judges, and all of the competitors.  The next step in this process is for the students to create full business plans with the assistance of student mentors from Notre Dame and present their ideas in the “Invention Convention” on April 24, 2013. 


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The Robinson Community Learning Center and the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at the Mendoza College of Business have been partnering to deliver entrepreneurship curriculum to youth ages 14 – 21 in the South Bend community since 2002.  Please contact Melissa Paulsen (mpaulse1@nd.edu) or Duane Wilson (dwilson9@nd.edu0 if you would like to learn more, or get involved in this partnership.