Sydney Hoffman, a Hopkins High School student, was awarded the $1,000 prize on May 23 for impressing a group of “sharks” with her business plans in the second-annual Hopkins Shark Tank competition.
“When we created this event, it was with the intention of students taking and applying not only their education, but also their passions,” said Jesse Theirl, Hopkins business teacher. “I believe it not only does both, but also connects students to a network of professionals that can help provide the next step in the process of turning ideas into realities.”
Hoffman beat out eleven other young entrepreneurs with her Carry all Caddy, a binder enhancement geared towards organizing students in elementary and middle school. Hoffman was thrilled to hear that she had won the competition and already has plans for what she will use the prize money for in her business.
“It’s really great and I’m really excited about what I can do for my business,” Hoffman said. “I’ve already started to expand my product line, I’ve expanded into schools colors, and I also want to try some marketing.”
Students braved the tank in the first round of the competition by presenting their business and concepts to sharks Courtney Dveris, owner of New Leaf Enterprises, LLC, and Jim Anderson, an executive business advisor and partner at Social Venture Partners.
The surviving six competitors improved their ideas with the feedback they received and came back to present to a bigger panel of sharks. In the second round, students faced a group of more experienced sharks including Pam Kermisch, the chief customer engagement and growth officer at Polaris; Bobby Mason, the CEO and founder of GoMahi.com; and Heather Olson, the founder and chief marketing officer at Soladay Olson.
“It’s important to have a sound business concept, but it’s the passion for the business that you’re also investing in,” Mason said.
The sharks selected three students to present in round three. The final round was held on May 14 in front of another set of sharks. The judges included Dave Dalvey, the managing general partner at Brightstone Venture Capital; Allison Kaplan, the editor-in-chief of Twin Cities Business; and Greg Bastian, the chief operating officer of Branch Basics.
Hoffman presented “Carry all Caddy.” Will Rauser pitched his idea for a product called Speak up, a square speech impediment device that could be implanted in the vocal cords and activated through a Bluetooth wristband. Sofie Schear pitched her idea for EZ Garden, a hydroponic based planter for urban dwellers that can be controlled through a user-friendly app that allows busy urbanites the ability to garden from afar.
The sharks were impressed with all three final competitors, but Hoffman came out on top for her proof of concept with prior sales of nearly $3,000 on Etsy and locally for “Carry all Caddy.” Rauser and Schear received a runners up prize of $150 each.