Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Grossmont College’s ‘Shark Tank’ gives mock entrepreneurs biting lessons


A student makes his "Shark Tank" pitch.
Limited only by their imaginations, students in Julie Hansen’s Principles of Information Systems class at Grossmont College pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to a group of faculty and staff “sharks” Tuesday.

Fashioned after the ABC reality television series, “Shark Tank,” in which business tycoons in the making pitch proposals to a panel of five investors or “sharks,” this week’s daylong event at Grossmont College featured 11 presentations, most tailor made for sci-fi aficionados.
From a teleporting service that beams customers from place to place, a manufacturer of a contact lens that eplicates the features of an iPhone to a 3D printing operation that makes human organs, the teams of two to five students made their pitches, not for funding but for grades. 
Instructor Julie Hansen was one of the four "sharks."

Four judges gave from one to five points in 10 categories: logo, flier, website, testimonials, potential markets, global expansion, financials, database, presentation and one criteria that explains the futuristic quality of the proposals: disruptive technology. 

“The ideas should be well developed, creative and out of the box,” said Hansen, whose “Shark Tank” competition is one reason she was recognized in the fall as the adjunct recipient of Grossmont College’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

“After seeing results of what Julie accomplishes, now all the other faculty want to do this,” said Clifton Quinn, chair of the Computer Systems Information Science department.

The semester-long project starts with students identifying themselves as the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operating officer or chief technology officer of the companies they create and in the ensuing weeks, they learn the information and skills to flesh out the details of their imaginary business operations. 

Three of the four "sharks" at Tuesday's competition.

“Students learn about Excel, so I have them build financial projections of their company,” Hansen said. “They also learn to build a website, create a flier and a logo and develop personas (testimonials).” 

Lessons on building databases give the students tools needed to map out their companies’ potential for global expansion. 

“I want the students to have fun while learning and they begin to realize that what I teach them have some actual application,” said Hansen who awarded boxes of chocolates and other prizes to the teams and posed with them for group photos at the end of the competitions.

Student Derek Schmitten, the chief technology officer of Bioprint, the maker of the body organ printer, said he’s usually not a fan of group class projects, but this time proved different because the workload was shared by all.

“I liked it a lot,” said the second year student who is considering a major in computer science. The practical benefit he derived from the project was learning to use different Microsoft programs like Excel. “I would have liked more class time to work on our project, though, because it’s really hard finding time for as many as five students to meet outside of class.”

At that point, Schmitten was interrupted by a fellow team member, coaxing him to join a group for a last-day-of-class celebration. 

A post-project celebration – just like real life.

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