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Shark Tank Contestants Announced
The Fourth Annual Shark Tank competition will be held Tues., Apr. 30 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in MPAC.
Contestants have been announced for the Fourth Annual UMD Shark Tank. The competition will be held Tuesday, April 30, 2019, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Marshall Performing Arts Center, on the UMD campus. The event is free of charge and open to the public. More details can be found at umdsharktank.com.
The UMD Shark Tank event is university-wide. The public is encouraged to watch the competition, ask the contestants questions about their business ideas, and enjoy light refreshments and snacks. Audience members also have the opportunity to win door prizes.
The competition, organized by entrepreneurship student Andrew Weisz and the student planning committee, will be judged by a panel of Duluth business professionals and offers scholarships for the top three business ideas with a first place prize of a $3,000 scholarship. The audience also has the opportunity to vote for their favorite business idea and can win that entrepreneur a $500 scholarship.
“I am so proud of where this competition is today,” said Shark Tank’s Event Director Andrew Weisz. “It has taken five months of hard work to prepare, but every moment has been absolutely worth it. Team members Max Stangler, Noah Schminski, Dustyn Godfrey, Antonio Davis, and I have brought this competition to a new level, and we are thrilled that these six finalists have companies that can become viable parts of Duluth’s business growth. I would like to thank my team for being the backbone of this competition, our sharks for taking the time out of their schedules to judge the event, our sponsors for donating the funding needed, our adviser Professor Ray Jones who has been there every step of the way, and of course, all thirty students who applied to participate in the event. We hope you can come support the future generation of entrepreneurs!”
All the contestants are UMD students. Their names, along with their products, services, or businesses, are as follows:
1. Cole DiMeglio, Cheffly – This business is a revolutionary food app where you can essentially upload the ingredients you have on hand, and the app will generate a number of different recipes that you could possibly make. By taking a photo of your grocery store receipt, it will load your ingredients into a list and essentially plan your meals for you. Also, closely related recipes will show up if you don’t mind asking the neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar. Perfect for college students, busy parents, or anyone who loves to eat.
2. Katelyn France, SMYLE LLC (Scientists Making Your Life Easier) – Started by a high school student, SMYLE makes QR coded medical bracelets, dubbed the Medical Assistance via Quick Response code (MAQR) bracelet with the tagline, “Don’t meet your Maker, meet your MAQR!” The unique QR code of each bracelet can hold information such as name, date of birth, blood type, donor status, medication list, emergency contacts, previous surgeries, and allergies and diseases. Individuals who are helping before emergency personnel arrive can scan the QR code via a smartphone’s camera. Information will be provided including what is causing the situation, what can be done to fix or stop the issue, and what to do after assisting the bracelet wearer. In addition to creating the MAQR bracelet, SMYLE LLC also helps coordinate mentorship between underserved students from rural areas and experts and innovators in STEM fields.
3. Benjamin Wedel, Pug Mug Co. – This currently operational business was started through the combining of two things people love, coffee and dogs, with the hopes of making a difference in the Duluth community. This business sells pug-themed, customized coffee-related products such as mugs, tumblers, thermoses, pour overs, and so such more! With 10% of their net profit made from partnering with other small businesses going to local animal shelters and rescues, there’s no telling how much good a cup of coffee can do for you and man’s best friend.
4. Joe Kastner and Andrew Knoll, Knoll Restorations – This currently running business is the future of the American auto parts industry. This aftermarket recreational vehicle component manufacturer utilizes 3D printing technology to create intricate plastic parts in low volumes. Utilizing social media and online stores, the company is able to sell worldwide and create high quality plastic components previously unaffordable to the general public.
5. Sam Goetsch and Michael Heile, Mike&SamGames LLP – This currently operating business is a game rental service specializing in giant handcrafted yard games modeled after classic childhood games. These colorful, eye-catching games add a unique twist to any event as everyone remembers the standard version from when they were kids. The company’s games have been enjoyed at graduation parties, weddings, National Night Out, and other social gatherings. For a flat rate charge, customers can enjoy games such as Giant Connect 4, Giant Jenga, Giant Tic-Tac-Toe, Giant Yahtzee, Giant Ker-Plunk, Bag Toss, Ladder Ball, and Kubb. With the goal of creating a stress-free environment, anyone can turn a summer night into the best party of the year!
6. Jessica Conlon, Plant-Based Consulting – This consulting service business was created to help startups and current businesses in the restaurant, agriculture, and food industries become more profitable, sustainable, and ethical. This company is prepared to help businesses become aware of the PR incentives that come with moving toward eco-friendly business practices.
Additionally, the six applicants/teams selected to pitch their ideas in the competition worked with a mentor in their field prior to the show. Mentors helped applicants to develop ideas further prior to the competition and provided feedback on ways to enhance the business idea. These mentors are made up of local business people who have shown excellence in the field of entrepreneurship.
The competition is sponsored this year by the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) in support of entrepreneurship.