Our Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Shark Tank event was very successful in its first two years and because of the acceptance within our college we decided to expand it this year to include the local high schools. We hoped that the interest we had created at CVCC could be replicated in the high schools.
We found that it was more challenging than we expected. In retrospect it made sense that it would be more difficult to establish a Shark Tank activity in the high schools, because the students weren’t as familiar with ABC’s Shark Tank TV show as our college students. We also were not able to promote our event as aggressively as we could at the college.
The result was that only two high schools were willing to let us come in to their careers’ (entrepreneurship and marketing) classes and pitch our Shark Tank competition. The Challenger Early College High School encouraged its students to develop business ideas for a school project based on the CVCC Executive Summary model. We believe we were able to create an interest, which we will be able to build into a Challenger Shark Tank competition next year.
The other high school which allowed us to visit their classes was Hickory High School, which is the largest school in our area. Joe Beaman, the Business/Careers Department Head, actively supported the idea of a Shark Tank event for his students.Joe, Alison Teague his Marketing instructor and Ron Turner, his Entrepreneurship instructor, were very excited about incorporating our Shark Tank event into their courses.
They divided the classes into nine teams of three people.Each team was charged with the task of creating a business/product idea and wrote an executive summary based on CVCC’s model. Then each team pitched their business idea to a panel of business leaders and school instructors.
The nine teams did extremely well in pitching the key concepts of their business ideas. We were very pleased with the quality of the projects and the interest the students demonstrated during the semester. We believe the success of this year’s Hickory High Shark Tank will be the foundation for future years.
A lesson learned from our experience with the Hickory High Shark Tank is that for anything to be successful you need to have enthusiasm and commitment. We were very fortunate to have champions at the school, who were willing to take on a new project and the extra work involved with developing a plan for the event.
We also learned the lesson that because our event worked at CVCC did not necessarily mean it would automatically be accepted at the high schools. We needed to understand the environment at each school and the key people who are needed to promote the event. Next year we will do more pre-event planning to break down the barriers to success.