Inaugural “Hopkins Shark Tank” challenges students to explore entrepreneurial ideas

Hopkins High School students put their business acumen to the test in a friendly competition, with the winner taking home prize money to get their idea off the ground.
January 03, 2018

Unique business ideas, creative sales pitches, judges, prize money—If you’re thinking these all have the makings of a great episode of “Shark Tank,” you’d be correct. Except there is one small change in venue, it’s “Hopkins Shark Tank.”

Hopkins High School students put their business acumen to the test in December during a friendly competition that encouraged students to explore their entrepreneurial talents. The first-ever “Hopkins Shark Tank” was funded through private donations and offered the winner $1,000 to be put toward getting their idea off the ground. 

“My motivation for helping create this was to hopefully get students excited to compete,” said business educator and ProPEL advisor Jesse Theirl. “An additional benefit would also be the conversations that other students have with the competitors. Essentially, they’re talking about ideas and interests, which is really the organic career conversations we want people at this age discussing.” 

Students submitted executive summaries of their ideas and the top 12 moved onto presentations. A panel of judges from all roles and business backgrounds were brought in to critique each idea during several rounds of judging. Theirl said by having projects advance each round it gave students the opportunity to fine tune their ideas and keep improving. The 12 were whittled down to three finalists.

Dante Reminick’s pitch was to expand his Give a Goat operation by traveling back to Uganda and study the effects of the program he helped implement in seventh grade. The second project chosen was Evan Miranda and Max Arneson’s “Hygienic Handle.” A prototype made from antimicrobial fiber, the Hygienic Handle is placed over any door handle to prevent the spread of germs. And the third pitch came from Alex Jono, Connor Sedoff, and Lilli Appelman. Their new social media app “Roomeet” helps college students find compatible roommates.

Heather Harnisch, who is the chief of staff for apparel at Target, and Anne Rucker, founder and owner of Bogart's Doughnuts, were the two judges for the final round. They grilled each team with questions about their idea, asking about return on investments, target markets, cost of production, and long-term goals. After deliberation, the judges chose to fund Reminick’s Give a Goat idea. They cited the fact that it was already a successful campaign and the actions created tangible results as reasons for selecting the idea.

Reminick, who is a junior, first went to Uganda in seventh-grade and said after seeing the impoverished communities he wanted to help. He talked with local leaders and they informed him that goats were needed. Now he wants to expand on his idea and ensure its longevity.

“This is a sustainable, pay-it-forward initiative that is run by youth,” Reminick said. “And I plan to go back over spring break and conduct an impact study to see how we can scale this organization to new heights.”

Theirl, who is also the DECA advisor, said he hopes to make “Hopkins Shark Tank” an annual event, adding hands-on learning such as a business competition helps students think outside of the box. 

“Having done DECA for along time, some of the most meaningful learning for students happens ‘when the lights come on for the game,’” he said. “Like sports, you quickly realize what you were prepared for and what you were not prepared for. It's from this experience that we learn the most.”

“Hopkins Shark Tank” participants

  • Dante Reminick: “Give a Goat” (winner)
  • Evan Miranda and Max Arneson: “Hygienic Handle” (runner-up)
  • Alex Jono, Connor Sedoff, and Lilli Appelman: “Roomeet” app for finding college roommates (runner-up)
  • Lexi Stephenson: “Buddy Collar,” a dog mood and tracking collar
  • Kol Jansa: “Lending Hands” app for organizations looking for volunteers and volunteers looking for opportunities
  • Gabe Gauderman and Ruot Nyak: “Schoolie” app for schools
  • Eli Schecter: Social media marketing consultant for businesses
  • Preston Wesley: Bike fidget spinners
  • Hunter Towle: “Full Dive Virtual Reality” for military/medical/gaming
  • Plamedi Bangila: Plakton social deals


  • Heather Olson, owner of Soladay Olson and talent recruiter and marketer for Creatives
  • Marc Meirovitz, vice president of loan production at Klein Bank
  • Jim Anderson, executive business adviser and social venture partner at Anderson Consulting
  • Jeff Tetzlaff, owner at Certapro Painters in Minnetonka
  • Pam Kermisch, senior director of marketing and customer experience at Polaris
  • Courtney Dveris, marketing and management consultant at New Leaf Enterprises LLC
  • Heather Harnisch, chief of staff for apparel at Target
  • Anne Rucker, founder and owner of Bogart's Doughnuts
Hopkins High School Shark Tank

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