Innovation and creativity took the stage Tuesday night at Kempsville High School as students pitched their business concepts in a “Shark Tank” style competition.
Pitch Night 2022, co-hosted by Virginia Beach developer Bruce Thompson, brought several teams of students with an “entrepreneurial spirit” out to present their ideas — ranging from a crowd-funding platform for musicians to all-natural sunblock to portable chargers.
Five teams presented their ideas to a panel of industry experts, including Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who previously served as CEO of The Carlyle Group. Overall, three teams were awarded a total of $20,000.
The students, enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy at the high school, began working on their ideas earlier in the school year, working with mentors to shape their concepts and work out exactly how to make them a reality. They were ready to pitch their ideas to the panelists.
They broke down their ideas, costs of goods sold, identified their competition, adding a bit of personality to their presentations with music, puns and demonstrations. The team Wavlength, which pitched a crowd-funding platform that supports musicians, got the audience cheering at the start of its presentation with a song performed on the keyboard by team member Mason Filo.
The teams also faced panelists’ questions and comments about profit margins, marketing and plans for the future.
Port Power, a team that pitched a portable charger for laptops, cell phones and other electronics, was asked about the charger’s bulky design and if there was a way to streamline it. Mid-presentation, team member Kinzey Newsome announced she had been charging her phone during her team’s presentation and in that time, it had already charged to 30%.
Heading into the pitch, Filo said the event was a good way to make connections regardless of the outcome.
“I think that (Pitch Night) is going to give us a good connection with a couple of people,” he said. “But I also think that if we don’t get the money that we’re asking for, it’s still going to be good exposure.”
Wavlength, which set out to “change the music industry,” did not receive all of the $12,000 it requested, but panelists appreciated the “very cool, original idea” of a crowd-funding platform for musicians. The team received $5,000 to get started.
The panelists awarded two other teams more than the amount they initially requested, saying they thought the amounts requested were “a little short.” The team Refill, which sells refillable candles and scents, received $5,000, though it requested $3,000 to get equipment to cut down on labor costs.
“There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in their DNA,” said Thompson, the CEO of Gold Key/PHR, adding anything that adults could do to support this spirit would help the students succeed.
The audience favorite, Beauty Perfection, a multi-purpose company specializing in hair products, received $10,000 to help with marketing, building a website and other costs associated with getting their hair-parting tools into stores. The idea came from one of the students on the team, Jada Watts, who set out to create a better product for ethnic stylists like herself.
“It was really something that we believe has a tremendous amount of potential,” Thompson said before presenting the check.
With the funding secured, the students will work over the summer to further develop their concepts and take their ideas “to the next level,” said Meghan Timlin, the school’s EBA coordinator.
Though not all teams received funding, Thompson said that this isn’t the end.
“If they’re true entrepreneurs, they’re not going to stop,” he said.
Funding was donated by Thompson.
Kelsey Kendall, email@example.com