Shark Tank Competition judges talking about the winning team's design

Spring Lake Park High School students in the Business and Innovation class stepped into the Shark Tank last week to pitch their unique business ideas.

The foundation of the Shark Tank project was to teach students the entrepreneurial mindset, or the idea that successful entrepreneurs are not profit driven, rather they have identified an authentic problem and a unique solution. With that in mind, students were challenged to look at the world in terms of problems and solutions. 

Once the students had identified a problem through the process of ideation, they began devising solutions using the Lean Canvas business planning model. The project was an opportunity for students to take what they learned throughout the class, including hearing from and working with a variety of local entrepreneurs and business partners, and put it into action. The end goal was to develop a unique for-profit or non-profit business that was financially sustainable and feasible. Students demonstrated their ideas by writing a complete business plan and delivering a 10-15 minute pitch to the sharks where they communicated the problem, solution, financial feasibility and ultimate funding ask. 

“The best part of this unit on entrepreneurship was the sheer number of industry partners who were involved,” said Learning & Teaching Coordinator Melissa Olson. “We heard from local entrepreneurs about how they got started, had business partners in to work individually with students on their financial statements and hosted judges for both the first and final rounds of competition. All told, we had 29 professionals from a variety of industries visit during the months of April and May. When you add that many people to the learning process, it’s a game changer. To say we are grateful for their time and energy would be a vast understatement.”

View photos of the Shark Tank event here

View a video of the Shark Tank event here

Shark Tank Round One

In the first Shark Tank round on Wednesday, May 22, 18 student teams pitched their business models twice to two different groups of judges, who completed scoring rubrics for each pitch. After students were done giving their pitch, judges had an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. Thank you to the following business partners who participated as judges for our first Shark Tank round:

  • Shark Tank judges giving feedback
    Andrew Aarestad, Partner, Hyper-Color Digital
  • Spencer Arvold, Sports & Recreation Director, National Sports Center
  • Matthew Ball, Branch Manager, Spire Credit Union
  • Tammy Ebert, Owner, TME Business Services
  • Rich Hirstein, General Manager, Minneapolis Refuse
  • LuVessie Jones, Owner, PrimeTime Medical Training
  • Erin Jordan, Owner, EJ Design Firm
  • Carol Kehner, VP at Doctors on Demand
  • Eric Krebs, Franchise Owner, Chick-fil-A
  • Tim Krueger, VP & Operational Risk Consultant, Wells Fargo
  • Kendall McDaniel, student, Carlson School of Management
  • Jeremy Nordgren, Owner, Nordgren Automotive
  • Kyle Opdahl, Owner & CEO of CPR Holdings
  • Amy Schultz, Director of Business Services, Spring Lake Park Schools
  • Jake Sturgis, Owner, Captivate Video
  • Amy Wrightson, Systems Director, Behavioral Health Provide

The judging rubrics were reviewed to determine the top four teams who would compete for the title of Shark Tank champion. The judges selected Apollo Athletics, Cutis Cura, No Food Wasted and Rainbow Coffee to move onto the final round on Friday, May 24.

Shark Tank Final Round

Each team was given the scoring rubrics to review feedback and comments from the judges and the top four teams had an opportunity to tweak their pitches for the final round. Below are short descriptions of the unique business ideas the finalists pitched. Judges for the final Shark Tank round were Erin Braaten, Vice President of Human Resources at Rise, a nonprofit organization; Ali Kaplan, Editor-in-chief of Twin Cities Business Magazine; Jared Swarts, Chief Technology Officer for Glacier Peak and; and Jose Tori-Maguina, Owner and CEO of MINT Language Services.

Apollo Athletics

Carter Sanken and Max Horn asked for a $35,000 loan over three years at seven percent. Their new company, Apollo Athletics, wants to create a cleat that can be used to play multiple sports. Cleats are expensive and each sport requires a slightly different style, so families are being asked to purchase multiple pairs. Apollo Athletics wants to offer a new cleat with interchangeable bottoms, so families could buy one cleat and simply change out the much less expensive bottoms.

Cutis Cura

Catherine Nguyen asked judges for $50,000 equity investment for a 10 percent stake in her company, which would be put towards the initial box production, website design and marketing. Her new company, Cutis Cura, or skincare in Latin, would match consumers with the perfect skincare products via a subscription box of five full-size skincare products. Their product would offer convenience and ease to their target audience of busy, young people. 

No Food Wasted

Keeley Auld and Vanessa Bartlett asked judges for a $10,000 grant for the first truck, recruitment and the food handling certification. Their new company, No Food Wasted, at its base is a transportation company for food. They would work with local educational institutions, restaurants and grocery stores to bring food that is past its sell-by date, but still safe to consume to local food shelfs.

Rainbow Coffee

Rakwon Andrus and Jack Copeland asked judges for a $50,000 loan to be paid back over two years with five percent interest for coffee making equipment and space buildout. Their new company, Rainbow Coffee, would offer the LGBT+ community an inclusive and safe space that is suitable for all ages. In their research, 40 percent of LGBT+ people abuse substances and there aren’t many places individuals can meet that doesn’t include alcohol. Their inclusive coffee shop next to a college campus would hit an untapped market, offering a safe and comfortable environment for LGBT+ community and their allies.

The judges were critical and asked tough, realistic questions to each team and after careful deliberation named Rainbow Coffee as the Shark Tank winner and Apollo Athletics as the runner-up.

“We are so impressed with all of the presentations, but Rainbow Coffee really stood out for solving a problem, as you’re addressing a market that is being underserved,” said Shark Tank judge Ali Kaplan. “This idea just seems like it’s something you could actually pursue and pull-off and it’s a really great, fresh idea.”

Students presenting presentations to Shark Tank judges
Students presenting presentations to Shark Tank judges
Student pitching her Shark Tank idea to judges