Four judges, three innovative ideas, but only one grand prize. With that much on the line you’d think the room would be tense in Smith Labs 155 for Holy Cross’ annual Shark Tank competition. Instead, it was welcoming and as Professor Chu put it, this was a space to “let our entrepreneurial juices flow.” The five judges stood to introduce themselves as Tom Flynn ‘87, managing partner at SV Life Sciences, Ed Mclaughlin ’78 founder of Blue Sunsets LLC and author of The Purpose is Profit, Bryan Sparkes ‘04, EVP and National Director at JLL and last but certainly not least, April Lukasik, parent of 2016 Holy Cross grad Sydney Zeferina-Pugliares, Founder & President of Bright & Early Children’s Learning Centers.
Dylan Olivera ’17, started the evening with a ride-sharing idea initiative called Splitrips, offering a fun, friendly and affordable alternative way to travel by introducing carpooling to college campuses. He tested the market by creating carpooling Facebook groups at various campuses and received many positive reactions.
Paul Wiley ‘20 then pitched his startup, PW Industries, specializing in custom handcrafted executive products and jewelry for the promotional product industry. PW Industries has been running for three years and has clients like Lamborghini and Holy Cross, with hopes to expand this year to more corporations and test other college campus bookstores. These pens are handcrafted and can be personalized according to the client.
Mary Kate Vanecko ’17 introduced her idea, Ella, a jewelry company that empowers girls to find their strengths. Ella was inspired by Mary Kate’s goddaughter, Ella, who at the age of four spreads positivity to everyone around her. Unfortunately, girls can begin to have a negative body image earlier than becoming a teenager. Her jewelry and message resonated with the judges, which they believe could connect with many young girls around the world.
The presentations ended and it was decision time. The judges left the room to pick a winner. After a very long 45 minutes, Professor Chu and the four judges re-entered the room. Now the room was tense. Everyone did so well, there was no clear winner. Professor Chu then announced Paul Wiley ‘20 as the winner of the Entrepreneurship Deep Dive! Paul received $12,000, an alumni mentor, membership to the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, The Worcester Clean Tech Incubator and the Venture Forum. The night ended and everyone left with their entrepreneurial juices flowing for next year’s Shark Tank.
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Thank you to Rosangel Cruz Cabrera ’18 for her recap of this year’s exciting Shark Tank competition. Congratulations to Paul Wiley ’20 and thank you to our judges – Tom Flynn ’87, April Lukasik P16, Ed McLaughlin ’78 and Bryan Sparkes ’04. See you next year!
Associate Director, COES & Prebusiness Program
College of the Holy Cross