Aspiring seventh-grade entrepreneurs at William Floyd Middle School recently experienced a real Shark Tank-like sales pitch for their final project in Lauren Engels’ “Exploring Entrepreneurship” class, similar to the hit television show in which entrepreneurs make business presentations to a panel of investors.
For the project, students worked in their “company team groups” and developed their own unique business and/or product ideas and pitched them to Mrs. Engels and the “guest sharks,” who were parents and community members with entrepreneurial experience and business backgrounds.
“This project is a culmination of all the business concepts the students learned throughout the course, such as product design, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, sales, and financial management, which were then applied to creating and running their own business,” said Mrs. Engels. The students’ performance showcased their ability to work well in teams, under pressure and on deadline. Having answered tough questions from Mrs. Engels, the “guest sharks,” and even their classmates, students learned how to “think on their feet” and speak publicly and confidently in front of an audience. “Through their sales pitch presentations, students strengthened their soft skills, including teamwork, collaboration, writing, research, public speaking and presentation skills,” added Mrs. Engels.
Special thanks to the “guest sharks” who volunteered their time and helped to create an authentic business sales pitch experience for the students. Guest sharks included: Christine Ireland, vice president, relationship manager at TD Bank; Michael LaFauci, serial entrepreneur, co-founder, Inventor and Investor; David Schultzer, entrepreneur/local business owner; Steve Filosa, entrepreneur/local business owner; John DelVecchio, entrepreneur/local business owner; and Allison Wiegand, business teacher, William Floyd High School.
About Exploring Entrepreneurship
Exploring Entrepreneurship is a half-year course that allows students to learn the business basics and explore what it takes to turn their ideas into successful businesses. Students have the opportunity to “think outside the box” and experience firsthand what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. Students work together in company teams, develop an innovative new product or service, and design a prototype. They go through the entrepreneurial cycle of designing, manufacturing, advertising, and selling their products. Students complete a variety of hands-on projects designed to strengthen their leadership, teamwork and collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving, research, computers, presentation, public speaking, and communication skills. Students even make a “Shark Tank-type sales pitch” to investors to raise money for their business’ start-up costs.