Stepping Up to the Plate

The “Shark Tank” Comes to Woodman

It’s Wednesday afternoon in the Woodman Family Community & Performing Arts Center. The lights dim, spotlights swirl, a familiar yet ominous theme song plays. There’s no turning back. You’re in the Shark Tank.

Anyone would be intimidated facing these sharks and their larger than life personas – tech entrepreneur Matt Glendinning, food industry pioneer Ron Dalgliesh, champion of education Debbie Phipps, sports-app founder Jared Schott, hospitality maven Jean Pennacchio (the “mangia maker” – right), and motivational speaker Luke Anderson – but the students confidently approach the stage to pitch to this high-level panel. They’ve been coached, prepped, and now deliver their presentations with confidence.

Their proposals run the gamut, from appetizers to athletics. One team presents a proposal for a company called “Glove Guys,” a baseball glove customization venture aimed at players who can’t afford the steep prices required to personalize baseball gear. They’ve halved the typical cost young players face. Both students are passionate about baseball and know that being able to style your own gear helps players look and feel good on the field, in addition to making a great memento to pass on to future generations. They ask for $1 million for a 20% stake in their company.

Once the pitch is made, the sharks immediately start to circle and ask questions, deciding if they want to invest. “I’m more of a lacrosse guy… for that reason I am out,” says Ron. Jared, a former MB baseball coach, is intrigued. “I have a passion for baseball,” says Jared, “but I’m looking for more of a stake in the company. I’ll offer $1.5 million for 40%.” Luke provides a compelling case for partnership as well, but asks for too much. The students make a deal with Jared. Applause fills the room. A win-win!

This play-by-play repeats itself a number of times in Woodman, with different teams pitching their businesses and making their case to the panel of judges. It’s the grand finale of an upper school economics class taught by MB CFO Vickie Monta. The elective math class, Economics of Business, has explored a range of finance topics as students prepared for today’s shark-tank presentations. The semester-long course teaches students how to develop a business concept, test market conditions, develop a budget and financial model and create marketing materials. Communicating with potential lenders, not only making their case, but also crunching and analyzing the numbers on the spot, helps give students more “real world” experience. We thank Vickie for sharing her expertise with the next generation of entrepreneurs!

January 2022