Eight students had the opportunity to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to three guest judges during this year’s Tiger Tank event, Dec. 1. Sponsored by the Department of Business and Economics and similar to the hit show Shark Tank, the event gives students the chance to learn, present, and further an idea in a fun and comfortable environment.
This year’s panel of judges included Melanie Barrett, Wittenberg class of 2021 and past Tiger Tank winner, who is the CEO of Bailey’s Capes; Kristen Bailey, Wittenberg class of 2002, who is the CEO of Sweets and Meats BBQ and a current board member of America’s Small Business Development Center; and Rob Alexander, executive director of the Small Business Development Center in Springfield.
“It can be pretty scary to share your business idea with someone for the first time, especially in a room with dozens of people watching you. But the students showed up very well prepared, presented with confidence, and answered questions like a pro. I was impressed,” said Alexander, who is also an entrepreneur himself. “Successful entrepreneurs have a different relationship with fear and failure than most other people because they don’t cave into their fears, and they don’t dwell on their failures. Whether they knew it or not, the students who faced their fears on the Tiger Tank stage were actively rewiring their brain to deal with fear and failure like a true-blue entrepreneur.”
Students who presented at Tiger Tank developed their own idea for a product, service, business or non-profit venture, and were excited for the opportunity to further develop their idea. The presentations were part of a required experiential learning experience in Wittenberg’s Business 350 class, taught by Kevin Steidel, professor of practice, business, economics, and entrepreneurship, who hosted the event.
Although there was no overall winner, each student was awarded a prize to help them further their business idea and maybe one day make it a reality.
Amya Brown, class of 2023 from Cleveland, Ohio, pitched her “Tru Story” idea, which allows grieving people to enter thoughts into a prompted journal.
“I chose my Tiger Tank idea because I wanted to share my story with others. The feeling was like no other,” said Brown, a senior pursuing a degree in communication & digital media as well as minoring in entrepreneurship. “I will always cherish this opportunity to share my thoughts and business ideas with other entrepreneurs in the room.”
Her prize was to work with the Urbana, Ohio-based, global brand company, Bolder & Co. Creative Studios, Inc., to help her build a logo and a social media presence.
Hunter Blair, class of 2023 from Westerville, Ohio, is a finance major pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship, who pitched his “extension cord/surge pro” idea that includes a prototype for a customizable cord that can be matched to paint colors, lengths, widths, etc.
“I chose to present at Tiger Tank because I knew it would challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone,” he said. “It challenged me to curate and present an idea that I believed in, but other people may not. Additionally, it served as a great public speaking exercise, which I believe everyone should practice.”
Blair received the prize of five business coaching sessions with Blake Shaffer, owner of LWS Tax and Accounting Services.
Nick Downs, class of 2024 from Plymouth, Michigan, is a sports management major pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship. He presented his idea of “Cleat Pro” with a prototype that fits onto a cleat to prevent mud build up while playing sports.
“I had a great time at Tiger Tank. It was very cool to get up on stage in front of a crowd and pitch an idea to real-life entrepreneurs,” said Downs who was awarded five business coaching sessions from Kyle Barger, Wittenberg class of 2007, and an entrepreneur. “This event will definitely help me in the future. I learned how to think like an entrepreneur, how to get more comfortable with public speaking, and how to manage and control the nerves that naturally occur when I’m in a scenario like that.”
Hannah Weymouth, class of 2023 from New Carlisle, Ohio, is pursuing majors in communication and digital media as well as entrepreneurship and a minor in educational studies. She presented her food truck idea of “Juicy Jim’s.”
“I chose to participate in Tiger Tank because ever since taking the standard entrepreneurship class, I have thought in a different way, in more of an entrepreneurial way,” she said. “A few years ago, when my family and I established my business idea of a Bloody Mary food truck, I knew it was something I wasn’t going to forget until I made it a real business. I thought that participating in Tiger Tank was one step I could take in furthering my dream of opening Juicy Jim’s. Participating in Tiger Tank was super cool and being given solid feedback and advice from three entrepreneurs themselves is something extremely helpful. The prize that I won is something I believe will help me in taking another step forward in making my business idea not just a dream, but a reality.”
Weymouth was awarded free logo design and truck wrap through Best Graphics, a Columbus- based company specializing in vehicle wrap design.
Kailey Cordova, class of 2023 from Schaumburg, Illinois, is an entrepreneurship and communication double major, who presented her “Drink Up Blue Apron” for exotic craft cocktails to the judges.
“I chose Witt specifically for the entrepreneurship major and added communication later,” said Cordova, who also was awarded five business coaching sessions.
“Presenting at Tiger Tank was a requirement for my business 350 class. I was incredibly nervous and afraid I would not be able to come up with an idea,” Cordova continued. “When I finally picked an idea to pitch, everything slowly started to fall into place. I had the opportunity to apply what I had learned in my previous entrepreneurship courses and create an idea that was unique to me. When I was working on my idea, I had the opportunity to learn more about pricing strategies, marketing, and prototyping, and slowly saw my idea come to life. Tiger Tank gave me the opportunity to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and expand my idea, along with the chance to earn resources to help my idea become a real business. Despite Tiger Tank being a requirement for a class, it ended up being one of the coolest things I have gotten to do at Wittenberg. This experience has allowed me to learn a lot and gain confidence to potentially make my idea a reality.”
Other presenters included Cassidy Webber, class of 2024 from Hilliard, Ohio; James Fuller, class of 2023 from Miamisburg, Ohio; and Jaida Malone, class of 2025 from Brook Park, Ohio.
Webber is a psychology major, who presented on her idea “Analyze Jewelry.” She wants to start a child psychology business and incorporate mood jewelry and data analytics into an app that can track mood swings to help her identify things that have happened in a given time period. Her prize was free website and app design by Big Fish Local, a Springfield company that specializes in web application and web design.
Fuller is a marketing major pursuing a minor in communication, who presented his “Van of Photos” ideas. A photographer who wants to bring his studio to his clients, he was awarded a one-year paid membership to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce to help build and focus on commerce, find an array of people through the chamber who can help with equipment needs, and build price models, etc.
Malone, who is a sports management major, presented “Soul Sneakers.” She is student-athlete with foot issues who created a prototype for custom insoles. She was awarded one year of legal counsel to help further her idea through Nathan Painter of Painter & Associates, Attorneys at Law.