Five fearless Huntington High School business management and human resources course participants jumped into the “shark tank” before a panel of judges for a competition that required them to use all the tools they had acquired during their studies.
The shark tank initiative was the final assignment for students in the one semester, half-credit course led by teacher Paige Tyree. The teenagers worked for several weeks to develop an “invention” and create a business plan to bring it to market.
Forty-four course participants presented their work a week earlier before students selected three projects to advance to the finals, including those of freshman Mia D’Alessandro for her “Friend Films” app that let’s a person and their friends watch a movie simultaneously while sitting in the comfort of their own respective home; sophomores Morgan Minicozzi and Dayana Velasquez Tejada for their “Typops” children’s Tylenol product, which comes in the form of a lollipop; and freshmen John Panos and Ethan Mulroy for “Radius,” a device that plugs into cars and alerts the owner if they don’t have their phone with them.
The four “sharks,” as the competition’s judges are known, included Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky, Huntington High School Principal Brenden Cusack, high school business teacher Suzi Biagi and patent attorney Ray Farrell.
The sharks listened to the product pitches and then had an opportunity to ask questions. “The finalists were grilled with questions from each shark, but they all really held their own and were able to think on their feet,” Ms. Tyree said.
Shark tank participants needed to be on top their proverbial games and they were. “With hours and hours of hard work and tireless devotion, these students created top-notch business plans for their inventions,” Ms. Tyree said. “They thought outside the box, took their roles seriously and presented in such a professional manner.”
With the presentations and questioning complete, the judge’s scorecards were tallied and it was announced this year’s shark tank champions are Messrs. Panos and Mulroy. “Although their product is both innovative and practical, it was their pitch that really sealed the deal,” Ms. Tyree said. “They were confident, poised and engaged the whole time.”
The competition played out in the School Heritage Museum at Huntington High School. Participants dressed and conducted themselves as business professionals.
“It was a great experience,” Mr. Mulroy said. “Learning exactly what launching a product entails was eye-opening. I also learned that you could have the best product in the world, but how you pitch that product is really what matters at the end of the day. The skills I learned in this course will be an important asset in both my future education and in the real world.”
The winning partners aren’t about to let go of their product. They have big plans moving forward and no one that sat in on their pitch is about to sell the two teenagers short.
“It was a really amazing experience,” Mr. Panos said. “I never really knew what ‘hard work’ and ‘dedication’ meant until this competition, but it was totally worth it. I look forward to committing more time and work over the summer to help make Radius a product that everyone can use.”