Eastern Entrepreneurs Thrown to the Sharks

On Thursday, April 3, Eastern’s business and entrepreneurial studies group, ENACTUS, hosted its third annual Shark Tank event. The event, based on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” featured four contestants competing for the grand prize of $1500 to fund their business plan.

Four guest judges determined the winner amongst the four teams, each hailing from different walks of the business world. The judge’s table featured Leslie Gudel, a local Philadelphia sportscaster; Bert Bruce, a rare disease specialist in pharmaceuticals; Bob Perkins, an author in youth ministry; and Mark A. Cox, an insurance agent.  

First up in the competition was Brent Keath, a student that remakes and sells smartphone apps. Keath’s idea  was inspired by qualities of popular apps  and how to help apps that aren’t getting enough downloads. As graphic design is an important element of popular apps, Keath hopes to add graphic designers to his team. His first app was debuted in January and since then has made $1900 in sales during his first three months, with each app costing about $800 to rebuild.

Next to take the stage were Derek Speese and Morgan Hawkins, also in the smartphone app business. The team pitched a free app called Campus Buzz that lets college students choose which campus events they want to add to their calendar, as well as which clubs and departments from which they want to receive information. Judge Gudel advised Speese and Hawkins to think bigger to expand their target market to those not only in colleges, but high schools and even surrounding cities.

Andrew Bilindabagabo was third to pitch his business idea to the Shark Tank judges. Because of the large demand for videography in Rwanda, Bilindabagabo seeks to start a freelance videography business which will contract freelance videographers in Rwanda, providing them with equipment, with the mission to improve Rwandan media. The judges questioned Bilindabagabo about which business he was actually in: the film business, or the equipment-rental business. However, Judge Cox was impressed with his idea and thought him to be a true entrepreneur.

Last to make their pitch to the Sharks were  the husband and wife pair Audrey and Jared Gallagher, who seek to open a new concert venue in Philadelphia that customizes viewers’ musical experience. The venue is to be called Cathy, which is short for cathedral. Some of their business ideas included a rewards program, BYOB options with a separate section for those over 21, and featuring local opening bands. Their mission is to create a better music viewing experience through better sound, better acoustics and viewer personalization. The judges’ biggest concern was liabilities that can come with BYOB options.

Throughout the competition, the judges asked the contestants hard-hitting questions about their business plans, testing their knowledge on budgets and profit. They weren’t afraid to be harsh, harkening back to the judges on the original TV series. Throughout the deliberation period, ENACTUS auctioned off prizes to the crowd ranging from an ENACTUS survival box and gift cards, to a Samsung tablet.

After the judge’s deliberation, Keath was awarded the grand prize, followed sequentially by Bilindabagabo, Speese and Hawkins, and the Gallagher’s. Congratulations to each of the Shark Tank contestants and to ENACTUS for packing McInnis auditorium for the third annual event.

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