Student entrepreneurs to pitch ideas at Wittenberg’s third Tiger Tank

Wittenberg University’s Tiger Tank, its version of the reality television series “Shark Tank,” will return to the campus on Wednesday evening with students trying to gain backing for their entrepreneurial ideas. Courtesy photo
Wittenberg University’s Tiger Tank, its version of the reality television series “Shark Tank,” will return to the campus on Wednesday evening with students trying to gain backing for their entrepreneurial ideas. Courtesy photo

When it comes to entrepreneurial opportunities for young people, one local event has claws rather than teeth.

Tiger Tank 2020 will give five Wittenberg University students and one high school student from Global Impact STEM Academy the opportunity to pitch business ideas to a panel of Wittenberg alumni and local business owners that may turn their ideas into a business ventures.

Tiger Tank, hosted by the Wittenberg Department of Business, returns for its third annual event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5 at Founders Pub in the Benham-Pence Student Center on the Wittenberg campus. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

What began as a local version of the popular television reality series “Shark Tank” where budding entrepreneurs pitch their dream projects to gain backing from prominent financial gurus, has blossomed into an anticipated campus event.

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Whereas the first Tiger Tank had six total entries, this year saw 50 students vying for six slots, pleasing Kevin Steidel, event co-director with Heath Queen.

“The quality has just gotten better and better each year,” said Steidel, Assistant Professor of Practice and Director Master of Science in Analytics Program. “It has shown our students it isn’t just for business or entrepreneurship majors. Any student can pitch their ideas, which can revolve around anything including science or music.”

The 2020 competitors will pitch ideas for a nonprofit; a podcast; clothing line; campus activity, software package; and candle business. Each will present their unique spin on how their concept can stand out in these fields.

Steidel doesn’t want to give too much away to allow the competitors to sell their ideas to the judges and attendees, but is impressed with the content.

They’ll compete for networking and internship opportunities, while the winner will get a package of services worth $25,000 such as business coaching, legal advice, Chamber of Commerce membership and more. The prize package is a new addition this year, but the chance to make the connections and internships is also valuable according to Steidel.

“To me what’s interesting is these students are doing this in what free time they have when they’re not studying or doing a side job,” said Steidel.

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The winner of the first Tiger Tank event, Melanie Barrett, has continued building her business, Bailey Bug, which offers apparel and accessories for wheelchair users. This past fall, she was a finalist for the first Springfield Hustles competition, which shared a similar format with Tiger Tank.

Another new addition is welcoming several students from the Global Impact entrepreneurship class to set up booths in the lobby before the competition to display their ideas, with one competing alongside the college students.

Steidel said he hopes people from the Springfield community, especially business owners and leaders, will attend to appreciate the creativity or possibly help one of the competitors.

“It’s a fantastic event that captures the spirt of entrepreneurship. I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t been blown away and really impressed with Tiger Tank,” he said.

For more information, go to https://www.wittenberg.edu/academics/tiger-tank.