Businesses fight it out to survive in the Shark Tank

From Issue 5

Payne Bell, Edwin Griffis, and Jack Mullen make their pitch to the sharks. Photo courtesy of Hubert Worley.

Shark Tank is more commonly known as the TV show that entrepreneurs appear on to show off their product to wealthy “sharks.” But at Prep, a game derived from the show serves as the project that seniors in AP Government/Economics participate in to show their knowledge. This has been something that the seniors have done for many years under the direction of Ms. McKibben. 

During the summer, students in the AP class are asked think of an idea or product that they would like to to use as their project. 

When school begins, the students divide themselves into teams based off of the ideas that the other students present  to the class. Once they have gotten their teams, they have to register for Asana, a website that allows people to complete tasks given to them by the teacher. 

This process is not a favorite among the students, but it is the main way that they receive the grade for the project. With a total of 250 points, it is the biggest grade we get all year. That factor alone adds a lot of stress for the students on top of everything that they have going on in the fall.

Each team is assigned a mentor to guide them through the process of creating their business, website, or product that the team chose to pursue. 

The mentor normally would have some sort of business and entrepreneurial experience, so they know what they are talking about. The teams are required to meet with their mentor at least one time so they are given as much time as they need to talk and prepare for the final presentation. 

The main part of the presentation is the team’s PowerPoint, which they use to explain their product to the “sharks.” 

On presentation day, students get dressed up nicely and leave school for an hour or so. They go to The Mantle, which is in Fondren next to Babalu, to present their idea to the sharks. This is a very nervous and scary day for the students. Everything that they have spent tons of hours working on, all comes down to a 10 minute presentation. 

During the presentation, the sharks, which generally are people that are very involved with Prep, ask basic questions that people should know if they have done any research. After seeing the presentations, the sharks will ask more in depth questions based on the details of theproducts. 

After all that is over, they ask students how much money they need and then give a “yes” or “no” on whether or not they would invest. 

Emison Geiger and Amanda Roberts at work on their project. Photo courtesy of Emison Geiger and Amanda Roberts.

The main purpose of the project is to understand the point and process of economics in a business sense. It allows for the students to see the basic steps of making a business, even though the majority of these ideas do not come to fruition. 

When the project is over, it is a great relief to all involved. Senior Tripp Cory said, “Shark Tank is a good project, but I wish more class time had been devoted to it.” 

The student “company” known as Dormi, one of the winners, was a team with Jack Mullen, Edwin Griffis, and Payne Bell. Their idea was to create a website/app that would help better match roommates in college. They developed a basic prototype of the website to prove to the sharks that it actually would work. They received three “yes” votes for their investment offer. 

The other team in the tie for first place was the Chime Bracelet.  Led by Abigail Pittman, Anna Katherine Cooper, and Eliza Burnham, the main idea of their project was a phone locator. They used the tracker and attached one to the phone and one to the bracelet. This allowed for anyone to track their phone using the bracelet. 

The project is a lot of work and comes with a lot of stress and long nights working, but the end result can be satisfying.