By FERENC SOMOGYI ‘21
“Be prepared and be vigilant – or they will rip you apart in the Shark Tank.” This is the message to would-be entrepreneurs, and it evokes images of an all-out gruesome battle where only the wiliest survive. So much for the marketing imagery – reality is much tamer, yet challenges the foolhardy and unprepared entrepreneur with elevator speeches and sales propositions, cunningly constructed business plans and a “fake-it-‘til-you-make-it” mentality. The Saint Ignatius Entrepreneur Academy (SIEntA) hosts its own Shark Tank competition, which inspires the same spirit in our very own aspiring entrepreneur students.
“The Saint Ignatius Shark Tank is an opportunity for Ignatius students to pitch a business idea to a room full of alums and parents, who will then judge the idea on its merits,” says Mr. Dan Hess ’88, who has spearheaded the Ignatius Shark Tank through SIEntA for over five years. “[Participating] students learn about business and entrepreneurship, obtain a realistic view about how the world works, and mingle with successful alumni, who can provide ongoing mentorship and networking.” Essentially, the Saint Ignatius Shark Tank functions the same way as the nationally-known reality show.
Tim Zvoncheck ’19, the EYE editor-in-chief and Saint Ignatius entrepreneur, began a business called “Saved Health” with his friend Eddie Keck ’19, which aims to use a “super powder” from fruits and vegetables to make any food or drink more nutritious. Tim and Eddie competed this year in the Ignatius Shark Tank. Tim comments, “After giving our presentation, the sharks gave us very good advice on how to make our labels, packaging, and website look more attractive…. The sharks decided to give us $650 towards our business that will help us speed up our product development. Finally, the sharks helped us build connections. They suggested that we contact certain people who would help us grow our business.”
Clearly, the Saint Ignatius Shark Tank has its benefits. It inspires Saint Ignatius students to move beyond that initial idea and embrace their dreams. Additionally, as Mr. Hess stated, the Shark Tank allows students to gain real-world experience in entrepreneurship and get real advice and help on beginning to reach their business goals. “We plan to soldier on and continue our progress. The hope is to expose as many guys as possible to entrepreneurship and business,” Mr. Hess says.
Though the event has already happened this year, all would-be entrepreneurs should begin planning for next year’s event so they can take a bite out of the competition! For more details and information on how to get involved next year, contact SIEntA.