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Student Entrepreneurs Compete for $5,000 in Walsh’s First “Shark Tank” Event

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Walsh University freshman Makenna Hickey and sophomore Ian Stroud were chosen as the first Shark Tank winners for their business ideas during the Tuesday, March 27 event sponsored by Walsh’s Garage Innovation Center. Hickey won $2,800 in seed money to fund her MK Sunless Tanning business and Stroud won $2,000 to support his business, Mere Investing, which is a website focused on investing money online.

“The response for this event was tremendous. It was incredible for our student-entrepreneurs to have the support of their friends and family, but also the encouragement from faculty, staff, and leaders within the Walsh community,” said Dr. Philip Kim, Associate Professor of Business, Faculty Advisor for The Garage.

The Shark Tank competition kicked-off on Monday, February 26, with 13 contestants representing a variety of majors. A selection committee narrowed the field to five finalists 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, Herbert W. Hoover Foundation Executive Director Mark Butterworth, DeVille Developments President Roger DeVille, The Karcher Group President Geoff Karcher and Walsh Executive in Residence Ronald Manse.

“The students were blown away by the Sharks. They each went above and beyond just awarding their own start-up money,” said Dr. Kim.  “They offered invaluable counsel, wisdom, and openly invited them to keep the dialogue open for continued help and mentorship beyond this event.”

Tuesday’s competition capped off a semester of Shark Tank inspired programming by The Garage that included a Shark Tank Watch Party, a guest lecturer by Akron native, Shark Tank contestant Evan Delahanty and a business pitch prep event. 

The five finalists were:

Ian Stroud, Mere Investing: A website focused on long-term investments and teaching readers how to invest their savings. Stroud is a sophomore Finance and Philosophy Major.

Jared Sartori, Hot Seats: A fresh take on heated seats that not only keep you warm but will also improve your car's aesthetic. Sartori is a freshman Chemical Engineering Major.

Makenna Hickey, MK Sunless Tanning: Eliminating skin cancer one natural spray tan at a time. Hickey is a freshman Corporate Communication and Education Major.

Marcus Gurgiolo, X Glove Enhancers: Killing odors and optimizing performance, this glove is a must for all goalies and lacrosse players. Gurgiolo is a Walsh MBA student.

Paul Robertson, Wardrobe: Clothing trading application, using virtual currency you can get a new outfit without spending a single penny. Roberton is a senior Mathematics Major.