Oxford, MS – Ole Miss students are being encouraged to share their creative side by competing in front of a panel of judges.
The University of Mississippi’s Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is holding two pitch competitions called Landshark Tank on February 20th and March 27th, 2018 in which students and young entrepreneurs get two minutes to pitch their business concepts to judges and the crowd.
This competition started in 2014 and normally has 10-15 competitors.
CIE program director Professor Tong Meng explained that all the events are open for all students across the campus. Previous winning ideas have included University Exchange, which would let students create a business profile advertising their skills for hire so they can make extra cash, valet service on campus, and Crowd Playlist idea, where customers can link their personal music playlist to the music player at a particular nightlife venue.
The event is held twice each semester, no registration required. Students simply show up at the event and pitch their ideas in less than 2 minutes to a panel of three judges. The judges will decide at the end of the event who has the best idea.
The judge’s criteria include: Is your idea addressing a clearly defined pain point? Does your idea solve that problem? Does your description have a clearly viable business within it?
According to HottyToddy.com, Mac Williams, the winner of the February 2015 Landshark Tank, said, “I gained the experience of being in a room with some of the most creative people I’ve ever met; the ideas in that room blew my mind. Being involved with CIE helps me to think as if I’m truly an entrepreneur by teaching the process of idea conception to implementation. I was so excited to participate!”
Junior Prahar Patel is a double major in Biology and Management Information Systems. He started a company called ezhome automation. They provide custom solutions for homes and business for increased security.
“I have not been a part of Landshark Tank but I have been part of other business competitions on campus. They’re a great place to see if your idea has potential and even help fund your venture. Overall it’s a great opportunity if you are interested in entrepreneurship or innovation,” said Patel.
According to the CIE website, You need a new idea every time, you can’t pitch the same idea twice or enter a pitch that was entered into the Gillespie plan last year. They are looking for ideas that are possible, so applicants should build a focus on a great idea that you can produce into a great business. Applicants are not allowed to have a powerpoint or slideshow, but props are allowed.
Ole Miss Graduate, Joshua McGlawn, participated in the competition various times from 2006 to 2010. One of his ideas pitched was a pay lake in Lafayette County. This is a multi-service, multi-phase lake where you can fish for catfish in particular.
“It didn’t win but I got some really positive feedback from a lot of the Judges,” said McGlawn.
The competition is modeled off the TV Show of a similar name Shark Tank. The basis of the show is that 4 or 5 celebrities hear the pitch idea and will invest if it seems like something that will profit.
The CIE will not be offering investments, but prizes include an Apple Watch or $300 for the first place winner. Second place wins $150 and third place wins $50.
Many participants say that even if you do not win then you should go and get the experience. Students are given a video copy of their pitch so they can see how they can improve in their presentation skills.