Catawba Valley Community College recently named the winners of its fourth annual Shark Tank competition.
A takeoff on the popular ABC reality show, CVCC’s Shark Tank is coordinated by CVCC’s Business Programs and Small Business Center and sponsored by L.B. Lane Family Foundation and Alex Lee.
The competition gives students, employees and clients of CVCC’s Small Business Center the opportunity to pitch a business idea to a panel of business leaders and potential investors. Participation is designed to foster entrepreneurship within the college and the surrounding community. The experience instills confidence in contestants to pursue dreams of business ownership.
In the CVCC Student Division, Terry Carr was the first place winner for his family business concept called the Cattleman Farm. His concept expands an existing family business to produce healthy organic beef to the public. Carr graduated from CVCC last year with an associate degree in Business Administration and is completing an associate degree in Entrepreneurship. He has been a member of CVCC’s SkillsUSA chapter for the past two years.
Angela Berasa won second place in the Student Division with her Reading with a Purpose children’s book series. Designed to help children handle challenges of life such as divorce, Berasa’s concept also won first place in this year’s SkillsUSA state competition. A CVCC team will present Berasa’s business idea at the national SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City this summer. Berasa earned her Entrepreneurship degree at CVCC earlier this spring.
Howard Wilson finished third with his American Highway Trucking Company plan. He graduated in May with an associate degree in Entrepreneurship and is a member of the SkillsUSA Entrepreneurship team which will compete at the National Competition in Kansas City this summer.
Paul Fuselier finished fourth with his 10-4 Truck Stop Mall concept that designs truck stops to meet the needs of truckers in western Hickory. Fuselier will complete his associate degree in December and plans to transfer to Louisiana State University to compete a bachelor’s degree in teaching.
Will Dagenhart finished fifth with his Snap Daddy Caddy, a concept to help organize bathrooms, kitchens and garages. He graduated from CVCC last year with a Business Administration degree and is currently completing his associate degree in Entrepreneurship at CVCC. Dagenhart is a past member of the CVCC SkillsUSA team.
Chrystal Hewitt finished sixth with her Crystal Cleanz auto and truck detailing business, which she has operated for several years. Hewitt plans to expand the business to include a mobile division. She is a member of the CVCC SkillsUSA team and earned an associate degree in Entrepreneurship this spring at CVCC.
“The quality and depth of business ideas that come from our students is outstanding,” said Gary Muller, CVCC Business Programs Department Head. “We’ve grown from having only a handful of entries four years ago to almost 50 this year.”
The Shark Tank Competition also included a division for CVCC’s Small Business Center, which works with people throughout the community interested in starting their own business. Bridgette Cooke and Scott McFarland tied for first place.
Cooke presented her BioRad Sanitizing Technologies business idea, a unique approach for reducing the threat of infections which can be transmitted during visits to hospitals and medical offices.
McFarland presented his Scott Ian McFarland Knitwear business concept, which is a company he has formed to provide product development, sampling services, and quick-turnaround production to apparel manufacturers and designers. McFarland’s company is housed in CVCC’s Manufacturing Solutions Center Incubator in Conover.
Drew Amitrano finished third with his Big Dog Barbeque Sauce business idea. Amitrano has developed three unique flavors of sauce: savory, honey jalapeno and hot habanero, which he produces and sells locally.
Bob Hedin finished fourth with his Faceguard password security concept. Hedin has created a powerful method for improving password security through the identification of familiar faces. Information on Faceguard can be found at the company’s website, http://www.faceguard.co/.
“It’s an honor to work with these local entrepreneurs,” said CVCC Small Business Center director Jeff Neuville. “They are coming up with creative ideas which will generate jobs and economic activity throughout our area.”
Shark Tank finalists made a five-minute pitch to a panel of local business leaders that includes CVCC President Garrett Hinshaw; CVCC Foundation Executive Director Teresa Biggs; L.B. Lane Family Foundation Executive Director Landon Lane; and Todd Blair, partner with Murphy Business and Financial. The panel asked questions of each finalist and selected the winners. Shark Tank finalists received cash awards or scholarships.
“The Shark Tank competition is a fun and interesting way to teach important business concepts,” said Muller, who originated the competition at CVCC four years ago, “and it’s having an impact. More than half of our finalists the past four years are either in business or actively pursuing the idea they pitched during the competition.”
“Through our Small Business Center and our academic programs, CVCC is well positioned to support entrepreneurial efforts throughout our community,” added Neuville. “Our Small Business Center provides no-cost business counseling and seminars to assist individuals starting a business, as well as existing small business owners.”
CVCC expanded this year’s competition to include local high schools, reaching more than 250 students. Challenger Early College High School sponsored a Fall Shark Tank, Hickory High School held a Spring Shark Tank, and Western Piedmont’s Youth Summit held a Shark Tank competition. “We look forward to having more high school participation next year,” added Muller.