Student entrepreneurs sink or swim with sharks

“Shark Tank” style competition offers students a chance to pitch business ideas


The “American dream” has always been the culmination of American culture. The US has been regarded as a land of opportunity from the beginning; the chance to “make it big” is what makes America so special. In the past few years, a television show by the name of “Shark Tank” has embraced the American dream by allowing entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to multi-millionaires willing to invest. But how does Saint Ignatius high school embrace the American dream? Through its very own Saint Ignatius Shark Tank competition.

The 4th annual Saint Ignatius shark tank, modeled after the popular TV show, was held on Saturday, January 30th in Loyola hall. There, hopeful students pitched their well thought out business plans to the sharks. The competition was the exact same concept as the reality TV show; in the words of Mr. Hess, “Same concept. Less money.”

The sharks eagerly waited to analyze the business ideas of each young Ignatius entrepreneur. These sharks, like on the the television series, were successful businessmen who graduated from Ignatius, such as Tom Barrett ‘88, and Pat Kucharson, ‘05. Mr. Barrett was most recently the CEO and owner of White Hat management, an educational company, and Mr. Kucharson was most recently the chief operating officer at BeMyDD, a designated driver service.

Mr. Hess says the competition was part of a larger one with other schools: “Ignatius is par t of a consortium of local high schools, the Veale Foundation Youth Entrepreneurship Forum.

We started four years ago with a grant. We all decided to have separate competitions then get together for a regional contest.”

The students’ business ideas were in a variety of fields, from botany to beverages to Ray Kman, ‘17, talks about the concept of his business, Home Growth Hydro: “Our business Home Growth Hydro is hydroponics made easy. We are a subscription based service that sets up our hydroponics kits in your home and take care of them on a twice a month basis. We will grow your desired plants and at any time you, the owner, would like to have some fresh vegetables, simply visit your personal hydroponic system that we initially set up and take any vegetables you need.”

The winner of the Saint Ignatius Shark Tank, freshman Seamus Cooney, has a beverage labeling business named Ohio Valley Beverage, which sells custom soda in glass bottles: as described as “a bottle. we sell drinks with Ignatius labels on them.”

He found the inspiration for his idea at Lehman’s deli, in Westlake: “I was at Lehman’s Deli at Westlake on the west side, and they have their own labels that say Lehman’s; they have their own private labels and I looked them up, and thought why doesn’t Ignatius or other schools have this?”

The competition had the unique opportunity of offering a real world business experience for some of the school’s most aspiring and future entrepreneurs.