Aspiring student entrepreneurs pitched their groundbreaking ideas at Stony Brook’s ninth annual Wolfie Tank competition, receiving constructive feedback from seasoned professionals and competing for prizes that can turn their visions into reality.
Six teams were selected from a pool of about 20 applicants to compete for a first-place award of $2,500, a second-place award of $1,000 and a social entrepreneurship prize of $500. The event, inspired by the popular television show “Shark Tank,” was held November 8 at the Charles B. Wang Center.
Wolfie Tank — a collaboration between the College of Business, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Division of Information Technology and Economic Development — follows a format similar to its televised inspiration, as students or student teams present their business ideas to a panel of judges. These pitches typically include a detailed business plan, market analysis, revenue projections and a demonstration of the product or service.
Each presentation was followed by a series of questions and answers from the panel of judges, which included Laura Klahre, owner of Blossom Meadow Farms; Derek Peterson, founder and CEO of Soter Technologies; Allison Singh, counsel with the corporate and intellectual property group at the Long Island law firm Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP; and Bob Williams, president of IVMatters Inc. Business Management major Samantha Antoian served as master of ceremonies.
Matthew Miller, student in the MBA program in the College of Business, and alumna Eva Paruch won first place for their Improv Playing Cards.
“We design, produce, and sell playing cards. We have sold souvenir playing cards for the Jazz Loft, a Jazz museum right here in Stony Brook,” said Miller. “Our newest project is made in collaboration with the video game Celeste, where we worked with their team to create a fan-made tribute deck.”
Miller credited Gerrit Wolf, professor emeritus in the College of Business, for helping his team develop their winning presentation. “Competing on Wolfie Tank really helped with organizing the mission and purpose of the business,” Miller said, adding that Wolf had lots of innovative ideas and great advice on how to organize. “Conveying as much data as clearly and quickly as we could was key for our success.”
Mohammad Rahim (team name Niura) took second place for developing electroencephalography (EEG) integration systems for earbuds to provide access to brain biometric monitoring. Kim Brown and Sadashiva Yalla tied for the Social Entrepreneurship award. Brown’s idea is to introduce affordable wigs and hair extensions to the market, while Yalla introduced a business to develop a “DriveEize” app that will enhance drivers’ skills and provide road safety to limit the amount of accidents on the roads.
“I feel this event is so important for our students since it gives them real-life experience in presenting their ideas to a panel of judges who specialize in entrepreneurship,” said Wolfie Tank founder and director David Ecker, technology solutions and engagement specialist/innovator in the Division of Information Technology. “The students are only given six minutes to present a product or service that they must develop in a clear, concise way of presenting that is understandable and has to demonstrate the impact that ideal will make on the world. It is what every student will encounter when they do it on their own or when they enter their career.”
“Students have told me that this competition gives them the ability to have hands-on experience in a safe setting at Stony Brook,” Ecker added. “This is what everyone involved is aiming for to give our students the experiences they need to be successful in their future careers. By educating and helping them to be successful now, they will be able to accomplish great things when they become alumni.”
— Beth Squire