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Shark Tank Simulation at Tampa WaVE - August 13, 2014

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This past Wednesday was an interesting day at the office. At around 6PM I was invited to join a Shark Tank simulation which was open to all WaVE members and any guests who had reserved on Eventbrite. Although I still had some work to get done, I decided to check it out - and I'm glad I did.

For those that don't know what the WaVE is, it's a co-working space for individuals/organizations in the tech industry such as entrepreneurs, developers, and designers. Many of the individuals/organizations at WaVE are looking for ways to make their ideas and/or products a reality by finding capital investments from venture capital, angel investments, etc. The great thing about the WaVE is that the staff is consistently bringing on new investors who may eventually help in funding the projects.

Below is my attempt to summarize the pitches without any notes. I won't delve into the sensitive details as many of these projects are still in the works, but I'll give you a brief overview of what they're about.

Shark Tank Simulation - 3 pitches to 4 investors for 5 minutes each, Q&A, then a final critique.

PITCH 1 - Caption

Upon arriving at the Shark Tank simulation, there was a pitch that was already half way through its allotted time. It was for a project called 'Caption' by Bruce Burke. From my understanding, Caption is a wearable technology that allows the user to perform tasks that otherwise would require multiple devices, such as language translation in real-time all from the comfort of your glasses. It's powered by voice commands and head movements which makes it a breeze to use. Although similar, it's serving a niche that Google Glass doesn't. The pitch was very well done and the investors seemed to have been impressed.

PITCH 2 - Gr8Coders

The next pitch was done by Gr8Coders Founder Virginia Barnett. Gr8Coders is a bootcamp style training course for those seeking to learn programming. They are one of the only bootcamps in the Tampa Bay area for this industry and are doing pretty well for the small amount of time they've been around! It's the only participant of the 3 pitches with actual revenue. Most people that sign up for bootcamps or courses are stuck with expensive university fees or having to deal with the inconvenience of travel or online only courses.

Virginia was well-prepared, especially for a last minute pitch. She was told about it only the day prior. She went straight to the numbers which is what investors want to hear and proved that her business model is viable. Out of the three pitches, I believe this has the highest chance of receiving investment. I expect Gr8Coders to be a well-known coding bootcamp in the state of Florida in a very short amount of time! Great job, Virginia!

PITCH 3 - Proxy.gg

The last pitch of the day was done by the Founder (will update with name) of Proxy.gg - a Fantasy eSports platform. It's similar to Fantasy Football, but it's for gamers. Very cool concept! The founder started off with a bang as his confidence and presentation skills were excellent. Unfortunately, his confidence soon turned to cockiness and the investors made it clear that they felt insulted as they got into a small discussion about mannerisms. I have no idea why anyone pitching to investors would act this way. Maybe he was just "trolling" (typical gamer-like behavior) and really didn't have a need for the cash. Who knows? What could've been an impressive pitch turned into a very awkward situation for the audience, participants, and investors. This just means that anyone that plans to pitch should be pre-vetted for the next Shark Tank Simulation. Either way, WaVE staff handled the situation swiftly by ending the Q&A.

The simulation ended with the investors making suggestions to the three participants and then everyone just started sparking up conversations with each other.

All in all, it was a successful event with dozens of attendees, great food and drinks, as well as awesome people. Not only is this a stepping stone for the WaVE and its members, but for the Tampa Bay community as a whole. Innovation is here and it's growing at a rapid pace!

Note: Due to some unexpected events, I was unable to continue the monthly startup interview series, but will try to do these whenever I get the chance.

Got a tip? Feel free to send me an email at info@jontavarez.com!

Tampa Bay's IT Examiner

-Jonathan Tavarez

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