This year’s Shark Tank event was full of innovative ideas, passionate student entrepreneurs and sharks that were there not just to bite, but also to encourage.
Based off of the ABC show “Shark Tank,” Taylor University’s version of the competition brings in any student entrepreneur that wants to pitch their idea to a panel. The panel consists of business men and women called sharks that give constructive criticism and encouragement.
This year’s sharks were Rob Wiley from FoundersPartners, Dave Moore from Toralgen and Tommy Martin from Mammoth.
Taylor University’s Shark Tank is put on by the Calling and Career Office through a program called Promising Ventures. The core values of this program are risk, imagination, collaboration and truth.
“Our mission at Promising Ventures is to connect students to people and experiences that will accelerate entrepreneurial aspirations toward the creation of high impact ventures,” their website says. “We believe students here at Taylor have ideas that can help their community, and we want to help them take the next step to making those ideas a reality!”
The winner of Shark Tank receives $3,000 and the runner up receives $2,000 that they can use to further their businesses.
After everyone presented, the winning business was announced: Lucidity by alumni Caleb Fox (‘21) and Justin Fath (‘21) and current senior Noah Huseman.
Lucidity is a data solutions company that consults for Christian ministries on how to use statistics to enhance missions work.
From their research, Huseman, Fox and Fath found that 90% of nonprofit businesses collect data, but only 5% use that data as they make decisions. 75% use the data occasionally and 20% rarely ever consult their data while making decisions.
“Our long term goal is to partner with … the data aware (companies) and transform them and help them climb up the pyramid and become data wise organizations,” they said during their presentation.
Long-term missionaries often struggle to establish themselves in certain communities, which causes the sponsors to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and the community to lose missionaries. This is one of the problems Lucidity was created to solve.
“Statistical analysis can be used to better select locations for these ministries and to prepare these missionaries to immediately engage with their local communities,” the group said. “This information that is needed to improve the retention rate of missionaries is often very hard to find. It takes mission organizations years to discover. At Lucidity, we can accelerate that learning process and provide those insights in a matter of weeks, or even days.”
Specifically, Lucidity is hoping to begin working with Uncommon Sports Group as early as 2022. Uncommon Sports Group is a nonprofit organization that seeks to build the kingdom of Christ through the sports industry. Uncommon regularly takes their members on short mission trips, which is where Lucidity could help them.
This event spurred a lot of hard work for Huseman and his team and he appreciated the opportunity to learn as much as they could from experts in the field. He is excited to continue growing Lucidity with his partners after this experience.
“The next step is to take a deep breath and praise God for the opportunity, then give my mom a big hug at Thanksgiving,” Huseman said after winning. “For Lucidity, we plan on using the funds to cover the initial incorporation fees and legal fees associated with starting a business and drafting our contracts.”
Huseman was impressed with the entire event and responded to his victory with gratitude toward everyone involved.
“The men and women in the CCO who put this on are amazing,” Huseman said. “Patrick Burke, Andrew Fennig, Jeff Aupperle, Kim McGary, the hosts — Ty and Matt —did great, along with all of the other interns and presenters.”
The runner up for Shark Tank was Kendal Miller with his business, RelicRaid.
“A huge congratulations to (Kendal) and his venture, RelicRaid, as well,” Huseman said. “I guarantee you that when Lucidity has its first corporate kickback, we’ll be giving RelicRaid a call.”
RelicRaid is an interactive game focused on being unique, perplexing and competitive.
“Unique in the aspect that this is a real time scavenger hunt using QR codes rapidly placed in an area,” Miller said. “Perplexing because along your journey to find the route, you have to solve various riddles and clues, and third, competitive. The whole time, you’re competing against other raiders to find the relic first.”
The other business ideas presented were Express-O by junior Kenley Blake, The Lifestyle Complex by junior Mitchell Canada, Watcher’s Run by junior Rachel Boyer and Telemonial by junior Trevor Mitchell.
Each presenter’s pitch included an explanation of their idea, examples of how it would be used and research that approximated the cost and effectiveness.
The sharks admitted that they had a hard time making a decision on who should be the winners because they were so impressed with each pitch.
Even though Lucidity and RelicRaid were the only two businesses to win a cash prize, the other students gained helpful feedback and the opportunity to network with business professionals. This will be an experience none of them will forget as they move forward in their career paths.