Tao Tang, Regent Master’s of Business Administration student and Innolab founder, took his love of an entrepreneurial entertainment show, “Shark Tank,” and created a day-long crash-course Friday, April 1, for those who’d like to pitch their business proposals.
“People have sharp minds, but they aren’t necessarily equipped with the necessary language to talk to entrepreneurs or investors,” said Tang.
Tang sought to bridge that knowledge-gap by bringing in experts in business planning, law, marketing, startup finance, production, and public speaking. This included Dr. Gary Oster, Regent professor of innovation and entrepreneurship; Zack Miller, entrepreneur and television host; Beau Turner, founder and CEO of 757 MakerSpace; Scott McJunkin, marketing manager at Parari; Steve Goad, entrepreneurial blogger; and Charles E. Payne, president of Payne Gates Farthing & Radd Law firm. They led interactive workshops to prepare a final 10 participants, in about 10 hours, to deliver a two-minute pitch before “sharks” and spectators at the end of the night.
As a nine-year-old in second grade completing a business-oriented class assignment, Chelsea Nettleton, School of Communication ’15, says she developed a desire to own a business. She took ‘Creative Dispatch,’ her creative resources agency, through the workshops and pitched the idea. She plans to move forward with her business idea, and she is enrolling in Regent’s MBA program to help make it happen.
“It was fantastically informational. I don’t have a lot of experience with business,” said Nettleton. “I feel like I have the confidence now to actually go out there and, if I need to find investors, or if I need to find a way to generate the funds myself, I feel like I actually have a skillset or if I don’t know how to do it, I know where to go to find the help to do that.”
“Something like this, an accelerator, is very important, especially for people who have a great idea and are highly motivated, and they just need that extra, little push,” said McJunkin. “This type of event is that push.”
McJunkin, a graduate of Regent’s MBA program, shared his marketing expertise. He says events like this are the best way to spur small business growth and improve local economies. The majority of all new jobs come from small businesses, and he sees Regent’s student group, Innolab, contributing to this cause.
“I’ve seen businesses come to life just from these types of events,” said McJunkin. “From the type of people that are in the lineup, as far as teaching each one of these segments, and the quality of people in this room, I’ve got a really good feeling that there’s going to be several strong businesses come out as a result of this. It’s interesting, and I’m excited about being a part of this.”
Business ideas pitched included industries from fashion to counseling to increasing a dwindling bee population. Dr. Doris Gomez, School of Business & Leadership dean, was one of the “sharks.” She and dozens of audience members grilled each guest on their business presentations and plans.