Do you have what it takes to survive in the shark tank?
That’s the question some Ohio State students, alumni and faculty asked themselves Thursday as they prepared to pitch their ideas to the casting directors of ABC’s reality show “Shark Tank.”
The hit reality show, which allows aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their product or business plan to “sharks,” a panel of potential investors all of whom are self-made millionaires or billionaires, made a stop in Columbus to hear the ideas of current and former Buckeyes.
The event, held Thursday in the Founders Room at the Ohio Union, was the first step towards becoming a contestant on the show, and the challenge was met with more than 100 people who gave pitches.
Claudius Mbemba, a fourth-year in computer and information science and president of CoStart OSU, a student organization for those interested in commercialization and entrepreneurial activities and responsible for hosting Thursday’s event, said he wasn’t surprised at all by the turnout.
“Entrepreneurship has really been growing, and we’ve seen a great surge around campus as well as Columbus,” Mbemba said.
Yared Selemon, a third-year in public affairs, pitched an idea for a website titled Student Essentials, which would allow current students to access class-specific notes, ratings from former students, previous syllabuses, as well as furniture, textbooks or other items for sale in the area by fellow students.
“I think students really don’t maximize their resources, especially each other, and other resources online when it comes to learning,” he said.
He hopes to rollout the new site in the next semester or two, and despite initial nerves, he said he thought his pitch went really well.
“I was kind of nervous and they kind of saw through that a little bit, but it was more laid back than I thought,” he said. “I thought they were going to have a timer a be like ‘ah, done,’ and then cut you off, but they didn’t.”
Another pitch came from Tamieka Cobb, a 2003 graduate in human ecology, whose idea was for a cookie shop that, similar to pizza places, would allow you to custom order cookies online or in person.
These customized cookies, she said, would allow the orderer to choose the type of dough he or she wants as well as the “extras” added in.
She said her pitch went really well, as the casting director ate her entire sample cookie.
Ryan Carter, a fourth-year in mechanical engineering, said he pitched the idea of a kiosk called “Phonograph” that would allow instant hard copy prints of photos on your phone and phone charging, bringing revenue through business advertising.
Unlike others, Carter said he was unaffected by nerves when giving his pitch.
“I have ice-cold blood running through my veins,” he said, adding he was confident he would be get a call back.
If Carter’s hopes are to be realized, his pitch will need to resonate farther than the Union. CoStart representatives said that “Shark Tank”’s casting directors do not make decisions, instead just passing on information to the show’s producers, who will make the final call.
Participants were told they would be notified within one to two weeks if the show is interested in their ideas.
“Shark Tank” has been a ratings success since its premiere in 2009. Its most recent season averaged nearly 7 million viewers.