Student entrepreneurs face 'sharks' at ECC
Four Elgin Community College and three Hampshire High School students pitched ideas for potential business startups in a "Shark Tank"-style competition Wednesday as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week at ECC.
Unlike the popular ABC-TV show during which "sharks" or venture capitalists vet ideas from aspiring entrepreneurs that could land them lucrative deals, there were no millionaires made at ECC.
Contestants had 90 seconds to pitch their ideas without notes or props, identify their target audience for the product, how and where it can be purchased, and what made it unique. Judges peppered participants with detailed questions after each presentation.
Hampshire High School student Kasy Reigner, 16, took first place for "Cricket's Cakery," a bakery using all-natural ingredients. She even brought pumpkin spice cupcakes for judges to try.
"I was surprised. I thought it was an overall good experience to have for my future," Reigner said. "I would recommend this to anyone who is nervous about talking in front of people because it gives them the experience to get over their nerves."
First place at the collegiate level went to Yvonne Fitzpatrick of Elgin for her business idea called Ivy Locker, a web-based business idea she said she's been developing since 1999. It is a subscription-based company that protects and manages a person's financial and insurance issues at the end of their life "so when a person dies, the family is not victimized so much by identity theft."
Locker said giving the presentation was nerve-wracking because she had to provide so much information in a short period of time. She said she was surprised she won.
"There's a lot of good talent here. You just never know," she said, adding that winning was a confidence builder. "There's so much work not only trying to write a script, but practicing, trying to refine it, trying to get it all within the 90 seconds ... that is such a challenge."
Locker said her next step is work with contacts she made in marketing and public relations to get her product in front of the public.