Five finalists will vie for nearly $2,000 in Judson University's "Shark Tank" competition Nov. 16 in Elgin.
They will present their innovative business, product and service concepts to a panel of judges, Judson students, staff members, faculty and community members at 7 p.m. in the Thulin Auditorium at Thompson Hall, 1151 N. State St. The event is open to the public.
Finalists were whittled down from a field of nine during the Entrepreneurial Open Forum last week. They are: junior Sarah Kay of Barrington Hills for The Tea Leafe; seniors Creighton North of Ferrisburg, Vermont, and Ryan Faulkner of Montrose, Pennsylvania, for an "Earbuddi"; junior Jean-Marc Plantin of Brockton, Massachusetts, for the "Rent-N-Roll" leasing app; sophomore Jaqueline Sosa of Rockford for "D8M8," a dating app; and freshman Kenjrick Watson of South suburban Worth for "Security Code Washers and Dryers." The grand prize is $1,000, with $500 and $250 prizes for second and third place, respectively, and a $100 prize for the fan favorite.
Judson's improv team of Charles Kirby and John Hitch will emcee. Students Kenny Haas, Tiger Khokunthod, Sierra Chavez, Daniel Flage and Lindsey Mellema will perform music while judges deliberate. The show will close with songs from Citizen Way protégé Daniel Olsson.
Inspired by ABC's reality business pitch series, "Shark Tank," Judson debuted its competition in the spring of 2015. A second competition was held that fall, and another in November 2016. The competition encourages young entrepreneurs with startup ideas to pitch them in three minutes or less.
Last year's first-place winner was sophomore John Ashworth for his customizable ice cubes idea.
"Since I had not won anything in the previous 'Shark Tank' competition, I took it as an educational experience to learn from for the next competition, and it literally paid off," said Ashworth adding, he hasn't focused on making custom cubes due to taking 19 credits this semester. "It's been a freelancing opportunity, and I still have a couple orders waiting to be filled. I'm still learning, producing and sharing the concepts involved wherever I go."
Ashworth also has been mentoring students who applied for the "Shark Tank," helping them get ready.