UrbanFUTURE held the inaugural UrbanFUTURE Shark Bowl: A Young Entrepreneur Showdown on Thursday, January 28th at 5:30pm at the Innovation Conference Center at T-Rex (911 Washington Ave, 5th Floor). Middle and High School student teams competed for prizes before a panel of St. Louis “Sharks,” including 6-time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, Dave Spence of Legacy Pharmaceuticals Packaging (and 2012 Republican Candidate for Governor in Missouri), Deborah Patterson of Monsanto and Mark Lewis of LockerDome.
After all teams presented their business ideas to the Sharks and the audience of 175 guests, they answered a barrage of questions from the expert panel. All teams performed admirably, but only one high school team and one middle school team could take home top prize. Team SOSO, consisting of four 9th grade young women from Roosevelt High School, was the first place winner at the high school level, with their all-natural sweet orange oil hair product.
“It was incredible to see my students grow their idea over the course of the semester through the Shark Bowl class every week, “ says Roosevelt High School Teacher and Team Coach, Sara Haag. “I am so proud of these girls for their hard work, and their ability to keep their composure and present themselves so well under the bright lights and pressure of a large audience.”
The top prize from middle school went to STL Illusion, from Busch Middle School of Character. The team of four 8th grade boys proposed a shoe-customization start-up business. Their presentation was well-thought-out, and even included a fully functioning website. And with initial costs of only $150, their presentation sparked Shark Dave Spence of Legacy Pharmaceuticals to pledge funding for the start-up of their business.
“The boys from STL Illusion put together a very dynamic presentation,” says Dave Spence. “They needed a minimal amount of funding to startup, and laid out a comprehensive plan for growth. I really believe they can make their business idea a reality, and I’m rooting for them to succeed.”
Each member of the top two teams walked away with $50 in cash, and an iPad mini. In an emotional moment, the four young women from Team SOSO were presented with free scholarships to the Allsup Academy, a weeklong immersive summer program at Saint Louis University’s John Cook School of Business. During the last week in July, high school students from around the nation come together at the Allsup Academy to explore, learn, develop, and present innovative solutions to real world market needs.