Dozens of small business owners and budding entrepreneurs in the Temple community attended a casting call Saturday for a spot on the eighth season of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Everyone who brought their ideas to the Fox School of Business’s Alter Hall was sure that consumers would sink their teeth in, once their product hit the market.
“What if aliens advanced our internet?” said Todd White, a 2015 graduate in film and media arts, who pitched his video game, called “Age of Aquarius.”
“It’s a strategic mobile card-battler app where players spawn digital aliens to fight in a 3-D battle,” he said.
White believes his game will be further optimized once augmented reality serves as a cornerstone of the gamer experience within the next five to ten years. “You could be wearing Google Glass or a Samsung headset and see your monsters fighting in front of you,” he said.
Marc Baxter, a 1998 alumnus who graduated with a master’s in educational administration, pitched his “cigarette smoke ring,” designed to afford smokers more flexibility.
“All cigarette smokers are willing to disable their entire arm at the expense of this three-inch stick,” he said. The ring would hold the cigarette and allow for clockwise and counterclockwise movement so that one could keep their hands accessible to do things like drive or use their cell phone.
“The cigarette smoke ring is to cigarettes what cable is to television,” Baxter added. “How is someone going to go back to holding a cigarette and disabling their entire arm after they get a taste of the dynamics of what the cigarette smoke ring can do?”
Applicants only had 60 seconds to pitch their business or product before one of the two casting directors. At this stage of the process, passion is on par with business viability.
“Your personality is just as important as what you’re pitching,” said Casting Associate Caren Sachs.
Once the pitch is over, each “Shark Tank” hopeful was asked three questions:
- How much money do you want and for what percent equity?
- How will you spend it?
- Which “shark” do you connect with the most?
The amount of money these entrepreneurs were asking for ranged from just $20,000 to $10 million.
For some applicants, the vision for their product is to help other businesses realize their potential. Afea Tucker, 2007 communications alumna, is one of these applicants who created a do-it-yourself communications strategy kit for those who can’t afford the help of an agency.
Amaria Estes, junior advertising major seeks the same change-making vision in her app “Workthat,” which would provide specialized teams of people to companies to help complete projects.
For others, it’s to stop problems from occurring that are 100 percent preventable.
Conor Vickers, a second-year student in the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, came to the casting call to pitch his medical device designed to prevent pressure ulcers that occur in hospitals.
“The problem is that patients who are on anesthesia or certain medications cannot move themselves to redistribute pressure,” he said. “They have no means of monitoring this pressure, so over time it builds up and cuts off their blood flow, creating these ulcers.”
Vickers’s device is designed to wirelessly monitor these pressure changes, thereby saving the healthcare industry the $11 billion annually spent to treat them.
Something each entrepreneur has in common is a desire to create change.
Paul Cook co-founded the plantscaping firm “Forrest Green,” earned his master’s degree in social work in 1983 and strives to make a positive impact throughout communities by teaching corporations sustainable practices and getting the poor and mentally disabled involved in their work.
“I want to leave a legacy for my children,” Cook said. “I want my whole family to know that [I made my $100 million] because I wanted to help the world.”
The casting directors will notify applicants of their decision within the next two weeks.
Melanie Rehfuss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @melanierehfuss.
This article has been corrected to show the correct form of alumnus for Marc Baxter and Afea Tucker.