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BIZ Blog: More 'Shark Tank' than 'American Idol'

Business, consumer and economic tidbits from DNT reporter Candace Renalls. Click here to view previous posts or additional resources. Comments | Permalink More "Shark Tank" than "American Idol" Ever see "Shark Tank," that reality ABC TV series wh...

Business, consumer and economic tidbits from DNT reporter Candace Renalls. Click here to view previous posts or additional resources.

Comments | Permalink

More "Shark Tank" than "American Idol"

Ever see "Shark Tank," that reality ABC TV series where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas before a panel of rich, shrewd business tycoons (aka "the sharks")?

The contestants' goal are to get a shark or two to invest in their ideas and, as shareholders steer the ideas to business success. Sometimes the sharks steal the idea right out from under the contestants, so they need to watch out.

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A fitness machine that makes push-ups easier. A website that buys and sells college notes. A device, shaped like an elephant, that helps children take oral medicine. All are ideas that got the sharks to plop down their money.

Among the rejected ideas are a golf ball cleaner, liquid llama fertilizer and a guitar that folds up to become a backpack.

That's similar to the idea behind a competition coming up among business students at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Five teams of seniors in the management policies and strategies course will go before a panel of local business experts and present their small business ideas.

One team will present their plan for a new water bottling company. Another has ideas for a new preschool facility. Other teams have ideas for developing vacant space on St. Scholastic's St. Paul campus into a restaurant, pub or space for musical performances.

Although very "Shark Tank"-like, they're calling the competition "American Idol: Small Business Entrepreneurs Edition."

In this Duluth version, the sharks -- ah, I mean the judges -- will be Elaine Hansen, director of UMD Center for Economic Development; Mary Mathews, president and CEO of Northeast Entrepreneur Fund; Phil Rolle, consultant and retired Wells Fargo executive; and Scott Graden, owner of the New Scenic Café.

But don't expect any millionaire investments happening with this version. The judges will, however, tell the students what they think and whether they ideas could fly.

The competition begins at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, May 4, in Mitchell Auditorium on campus. It's free and open to the public.

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