A student walks into a classroom and asks his teacher for $800,000. He walked away hoping for an “A” on the assignment.
Students at the Tyler ISD Career and Technology Center pitched their best ideas to a “Shark Tank” panel of teachers and counselors on Friday. The contest was based on the popular reality TV show that gives entrepreneurs the chance to wow rich investors.
Government and economics teacher Josh Culpepper said the idea was to give students the real world experience behind the entrepreneurial concepts they’ve been learning.
“We’ve been doing an entrepreneurial unit for the past couple of weeks and the students have had to come up with a business concept,” he said. “Beyond that, they’ve had to research what goes into starting and operating a business.”
Business ideas ranged from the workable to the wild, from a salon dedicated to self-care to kinder car horns. Culpepper even brought in a former Shark Tank contestant earlier in the week to help spark students’ imaginations.
Adriana Sanchez and her classmates pitched Bella Latina Salon, which is a salon concept dedicated to self-care and multi-service offerings. All four of the girls pitching the salon are cosmetology students, and will soon be licensed.
Culpepper said their project represented the idea closest to becoming a reality.
“I’m hoping to learn how to start up a business and how to manage the costs and real world experience,” Sanchez said. “I would tell them (classmates) to research a lot.”
Culpepper said students have been tasked with exploring every aspect of a business. Students have been researching raw materials, locations, investments, marketing, social media management and other necessities for building their business from the ground up.
“Similar to the show, they’re having to bring this concept in, to people who don’t know anything about their idea, as an investment opportunity, and so they’ve got to lay the groundwork out for our sharks, and our sharks are asking them some difficult questions,” Culpepper said. “They’ll have to think on their toes about the real world applications of running their business.”
Nerves were running high among students, but each group had its own strategy for pitching its idea.
One group was hoping to secure startup for a pet food delivery service, and brought in two-week-old bunnies to help demonstrate. Several groups made their own commercials, with pitches ranging from 15-second TikTok videos to quality that rivaled professionals.
While there wasn’t necessarily a winner of the competition, every student walked away with more confidence and the knowledge that they have what it takes to start their own business someday.