Judson University's Shark Tank Competition finalists to share their pitches Thursday

  • Kenjrick Watson

    Kenjrick Watson

  • Sarah Kay

    Sarah Kay

  • Jean-Marc Plantin

    Jean-Marc Plantin

  • Jaqueline Sosa

    Jaqueline Sosa

  • Creighton North and Ryan Faulkner

    Creighton North and Ryan Faulkner

Submitted by Judson University
Updated 11/14/2017 10:27 AM

Judson University's fourth Shark Tank event will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Herrick Chapel, 1151 N. State St. in Elgin.

The finalists have been selected. The judges are in place and the stage is set for the top competitors to win nearly $2,000 in prize money.

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Inspired by ABC Network's business competition show "Shark Tank," Judson's pitch competition debuted in spring 2015.

This year's competition began with an Entrepreneurial Open Forum in the Campus Commons to allow staff, students and faculty an opportunity to vote for their favorite business ideas. The five voted best will now share their pitches during the Nov. 16 event.

The competing students are:

• Junior Sarah Kay of Barrington Hills and her idea for The Tea Leafe.

• Seniors Creighton North of Ferrisburg, Vermont, and Ryan Faulkner of Montrose, Pennsylvania, and their idea for an "Earbuddi."

• Junior Jean-Marc Plantin of Brockton, Massachusetts, and his idea for the "Rent-N-Roll" leasing app.

• Sophomore Jaqueline Sosa of Rockford and her idea for "D8M8," a dating app.

• Freshman Kenjrick Watson of Worth, Illinois, and his "Security Code Washers and Dryers" idea.

Their projects will be carefully scrutinized by a panel of judges that include:


• John Ashworth, last year's Judson Shark Tank winner. Originally from Amsterdam, Ashworth is studying graphic design and architecture at Judson University. He leads the CREATE team on campus, focusing on fostering innovation in others. In Holland, he is collaborating on a calendar that encourages "an idea a day."

• Carol Gieske, president and CEO of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce. Gieske has served in key leadership roles throughout her career focusing on nonprofit development, fundraising and communications. As a certified fundraising executive, she has dedicated her career to the local community, serving as president of the United Way of Elgin and Provena Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation.

• Sergio Rodriguez, vice president of information technology and marketing for KCT Credit Union. Throughout his career, Rodriguez has developed cost-effective, innovative solutions to increase operational efficiencies. He is a Marine veteran and a board member for the nonprofit Centro de Información of Elgin. He is married and enjoys all things tech, the outdoors and sushi.

• Ray Stachowiak, a venture capitalist and founder and former CEO of Shared Imaging, a leading provider of fixed site and mobile magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and PET/CT systems for 20-plus years. He currently serves on the board of the American Shared Hospital Services and actively seeks out new entrepreneurial ventures. This is his second time judging the Judson Shark Tank competition.


• Lisa Waller, vice president and co-owner of BDG International, Inc., in Elgin. Waller speaks around the country educating importers and exporters on how to streamline their logistics operations, implement corporate compliance processes, understand international documentation, and, most importantly, how to make export and import easier within a global environment. This is her second time judging the Shark Tank competition.

The competition won't be strictly about business only. This year's pitching event will include entertainment, too. There will be two emcees from the Judson Improv team, Charles Kirby and John "Davis" Hitch. There also will be preshow entertainment and music while the judges deliberate, thanks to a partnership with the Music Business & Entrepreneurship program.

Student Kenny Hass will share music during the preshow. Four Judson students will perform original music during the judging period. They include: Tiger Khokunthod, Sierra Chavez, Daniel Flage and Lindsey Mellema. The show will close with songs from Citizen Way protégé Daniel Olsson.

The competition's grand prize is $1,000, with $500 and $250 prizes for second and third place, and a $100 prize for the fan favorite.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to win big prizes in a raffle. Up for grabs are CDs by student/recording artist Kenny Hass and a pair of World Leaders Forum tickets.

Learn more at www.created2create.org.


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