As college recruits visit campus, one of the main things they are looking for are organizations and events that lead to career success or development. Tiger Tank is one of these events and it took place on Thursday, Feb. 15.
This event is Wittenberg’s play on the popular ABC show “Shark Tank.” Professors Wendy Gradwhol and Thomas Kaplan, as well as coordinator for engaged learning, Heath Queen, put together the event. Like the show, students would present their business idea to a panel of judges and then get questioned by them. The winners of the event—Melanie Barrett (’21), a team of Christopher Dunne (’21) and Maxim Boone (’18) as well as the team of Jack Vierra (’19) and Charlie Tillet (’19)—earned an internship with one of the judges.
The panel of judges was comprised of three accomplished alumni across different entrepreneurial ventures. The first judge introduced was Scott “Muddy” Watters (’87). Waters is on the Board of Directors at Wittenberg and owns Flippin Water LLC, a company which works with other companies on capital, debt, equity, financing and fundraising. Kyle Barger (’07) was the next judge announced and he has been involved in the steel and fitness industries. He currently owns Champion Trading Group, a company that is involved in purchasing and selling for customers in steel and metal recycling. The final judge was Corey Myers (’04) who is a strategic advisor and co-founder of a few companies; on top of these things, Myers is an engineering recruiter for Tesla.
Students came in with a variety of great ideas for the judges. The ideas ranged from a change in health testing to a website for donating money. In between performances, professor Kevin Steidel announced each individual with great gusto. A total of seven presentations were completed. The students were understandably nervous as there were constant comments about shaking on stage. However, the atmosphere was filled with support as the room was filled with applause after every presentation.
Morgan Beechey (’18), who presented his idea about a food shipping service for underprivileged families, stated: “It was nerve wracking at first, but once I started to see the reactions of people in the audience and judges I was a lot more at home.”
Barrett was the first Tiger to present to the panel and she blew the judges away. Her proposed idea was called Bailey’s Capes. This idea is a product which is a mixture of a blanket and coat for people in wheelchairs. These capes have customized designs and use buttons instead of a zipper, which as Barrett explained, can be restrictive. With her presentation, she earned an internship with Waters.
Later in the program, Dunne and Boone wowed the crowd and judges with their presentation. Their idea naturally centered around golf as they are both members of the Tigers Men’s Golf team. The duo came up with the idea to use chalk to help absorb any moisture, whether sweat or rain, on hands of golfers. To truly prove the efficiency of chalk, the two golfers demonstrated to the judges by giving them each a golf club and spraying their hands with water; they then added chalk to see if their grip changed. Barger chose to give Boone and Dunne an internship after this presentation.
Right after Dunne and Boone presented, Tillet and Vierra rushed into the room stirring the entire room as the two screamed, “Coffee,” and, “Get your coffee.” The two proposed an idea that revolved around a traveling coffee business. While they originally are thinking of using a food truck-like idea, they converted it into a process of carrying the coffee in a container on their back. Myers loved their charm and gladly agreed to give them an internship.
While these three groups ultimately took home the prizes, there were many great ideas presented and the judges appreciated all of the ideas. The judges stuck around after the event and got the presenters’ information with hopes of continuing their connection.
The night was filled with many great ideas, but a few themes arouse from the evening. With every presentation, the panel preached starting small with business ventures, meaning starting local and then expanding. The last theme of the night was collaboration as professors, presenters, judges, and audience members were all conversing through the event. The judges also remarked that they appreciated the amount of philanthropy related ideas.
Barger put it perfectly when thanking the students and faculty for the evening, “You guys made this an awesome event.”