Shark Tank is an American reality TV show. The purpose of the show is to allow budding entrepreneurs the chance to show off their product. In the show, the entrepreneur presents their product to five well-established entrepreneurs. These successful business people are the “sharks in the tank.” The contestants job is to get one of the sharks to invest money in their product. If more than one shark is interested in the project, then a bidding war erupts, and the price of the investment shoots up.
Missouri University of Science and Technology is hosting their own sort of Shark Tank. The contest is called the Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator. The contest will consist of several rounds of competitions and reviews. The program will award money to the highest ranking teams. This money ranges anywhere from 5,000-30,000 dollars and depends on how far the team goes in the competition. The top three finishes at Missouri S&T will advance to a systemwide competition.
The system wide competition includes the winners from all UM System schools.This is a total of twelve teams. The competition, in the past, was held in Columbia, MO. It had the top entrepreneurs from all over Missouri as the judges. In the system wide competition, the winners are given financial awards. They are also awarded an eight-week business model and plan educational program; mentorship from executives, leaders, inventors, and subject matter experts; and opportunities to participate in other pitch and demo competitions.
In the past, S&T students have created products that help S
yrian refugees, help patients with Crohn's disease, and bumper plates that reduce damage. These up and coming entrepreneurs saw the problem and used their knowledge from classes at Missouri S&T to create a solution. They produced a product and then they created a business plan and presentation for the competition.
Vanessa Mahan, an S&T student, competed in the Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator in the past year. Her problem was Crohn’s Disease. She learned about bioactive glass in one of her classes and thought that it could be a solution to Crohn’s Disease. Her team/product, “Bionic Bowel”, was a finalist at Missouri S&T’s competition and they were able to go on to the system wide competition. They also competed in a HealthCare Pitch Competition, where they received second place. Their second place finish came with a financial award that will allow them to file for a patent and continue their research.
Last year, the first place finish at Missouri S&T was “SafeHouse.” This product was designed with the hope of helping Syrian refugees and other displaced peoples. The shelters were created to be adaptable to all terrain and could be assembled in a few hours. These shelters would be cost efficient, but also allow a suitable place for living. Erik Lee, who was a member of the team that created “SafeHouse”, said, “We hope to design more models in the future to aid the homeless and those displaced by natural disasters.”
The teams that created “SafeHouse” and the “Bionic Bowel” are just two of the many young entrepreneurs on Missouri S&T’s campus Their stories are just two examples of the benefits of competing in the Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator. If you are interested in competing, there are instructions at the EQ workshop. All students at Missouri S&T are eligible to apply until November 7th. The entry into the contest can be a product or service and can be nonprofit or revenue generating.