April 17, 2019
Two student entrepreneurs were the winners of this year’s $5,000 start-up prize during the second annual Shark Tank business competition hosted by the Garage Student Innovation Center. Second place of $2,000 was awarded to Grace Andreski for her personalized cell phone case business, Alter Cases. The first place honor, along with the grand prize of $3,000, went to Sebastian Hendricks for his innovative app that helps dedicated runners plot new routes when visiting unfamiliar cities or destinations.
The competition was held on Friday, April 5, in the Marlene and Joe Toot Global Learning Center and was the culminating event of Walsh’s Entrepreneurs Week, which promoted special events and presentations geared towards student innovation and business start-ups.
“The Shark Tank is the marquee event of the Garage Innovation Center,” said Garage Co-President Bill Arfaras. “This is a unique opportunity for our students to pitch their unique business ideas to a panel of ‘Sharks’ who are also known community leaders. Shark Tank is actually the grand finale of a semester long process, where students participated in a series of workshops to help build their business proposal and presentation ideas.”
The Shark Tank competition kicked-off with 17 contestants representing a variety of majors. A selection committee narrowed the field to five teams of seven students who competed for the $5,000 grand prize by presenting a 10-minute business pitch before a panel of judges that included Walsh University President Richard Jusseaume, former TimkenSteel Executive Vice President Donald Walker, Executive Coach, Business Advisor Cathy Shew, and President of Delta Media Group, Inc. Mike Minard. The winners will also have an opportunity to meet with the Shark Board every two months, to discuss the status of their businesses and help determine next steps in their start-ups.
This year’s event also included updates from the 2018 Shark Tank winners, sophomore Makenna Hickey and junior Ian Stroud, who presented to the audience the status of their own business ventures and the lessons they’ve learned over the past year.
Shark Tank is only one event in a series of Garage programming that provides students with expertise and experience beyond the classroom.
“This year, the Garage has had the opportunity to consult with businesses such as Beiry Cheese, the fifth largest distributer of cheese in the United States. We not only work for a real company and gain experience, but we are also being paid for our service,” said Garage Co-President Brandyn Neal. “We’ve also been working to bring more majors into the Garage with new collaborations with the science club and pre-engineering club.”
New Garage initiatives this year have also included the launch of a student certification program where students participate in a three-part, 12-week course to be certified in 3D printing. The students also hosted the first Canton Business Spotlight showcasing local businesses and community innovation on Saturday, April 13, in the Global Learning Center.