Over 45,000 people apply for the chance to appear on ABC’s competition show, Shark Tank, every single year for a chance to promote their business and hopefully land the best deal of their lives. That number may seem incredibly intimidating for many students with product and business ideas, but Eastern University’s student group, Enactus, believes in encouraging young entrepreneurs on Eastern’s campus by hosting their very own Shark Tank competition every year.
For those unfamiliar with the television program, the concept is this: each episode, several business owners or hopefuls get a chance to pitch their business or product to a group of 5 successful and business-savvy experts in the industry, referred to as sharks. If one of the sharks likes the idea or sees promise in the company, they can make an offer to give the business owner a sum of money for a share in their company. If they get an offer, or multiple offers, it is then up to the business owner to decide whether or not they want to take it.
Enactus’ event operates in a similar manner, with a panel of judges made up of local entrepreneurs and students pitching their ideas with the hope of winning a $1000 grand prize to put into their business. Senior Sociology major, Karl Golden, was one of the students who took on the challenge of presenting his business idea in front of the sharks.
“I saw a flyer, and I was interested in entrepreneurship, so I thought, I’m gonna apply, I’m gonna submit my proposal when the deadline opens,” Golden said regarding his interest in participating in the event. “I studied Entrepreneurship in community college, but never got the opportunity to apply it, so this was a chance for me to do so.”
Golden then met with Dr. Socci to go over his proposal and a one page overview of his business, Kingdom Candles, LLC, and was then entered into the competition. Kingdom Candles is a faith-based candle company where the candles come with a prayer based on the scent. Golden sees these candles as being great to give out as gifts to friends, family, and others.
“I know oftentimes, it’s really hard to break the ice about sharing your faith, but this can be a way to do so. My vision is just about sharing faith with others and giving other people the opportunity to do that through candles,” Golden said.
Aside from the faith aspect of the business, Golden chose to start a candle company because the start-up costs are comparatively lower than a lot of other businesses. During his sales pitch in front of the sharks, he presented all of this information with charts and graphs, breaking down his budget and detailing what he would use the $1000 grand prize for in starting this company if he were to win.
His hard work and dedication impressed the panel of sharks, and he was ultimately chosen as the victor. Though Golden is busy finishing up his undergraduate career at Eastern and will be serving in the U.S. Army for full-time active duty after graduation, he plans on starting his business and making his own product in the time between graduation and his service, getting it up and running with the $1000 prize money.
If you have a small business idea, and are thinking of participating in next year’s Shark Tank event, Golden offered some words of advice and encouragement. “Think
about how you can solve problems or how you can help people. I don’t consider myself to be an entrepreneur, but a social entrepreneur, so I want to help people, and I want to do that in the business world,” Golden said. “Don’t have any fear because experience is the best teacher. If you win or if you lose, you’re still going to gain a bunch of experience, and a bunch of feedback on your idea.”
Golden emphasized the idea that experience is the best thing you can gain from a competition like Shark Tank whether you win or lose, and this is certainly an experience he will carry with him for time to come