Entrepreneur students bring ‘Shark Tank’ to City College

Julie+Samson+leads+the+Enterprise+Launch+class+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+12%2C+in+the+Inter-Disciplinary+Center+at+City+College.+The+class+helps+students+develop+their+business+ideas+and+guide+them+through+the+processes+of+production+and+sales.

Kazden Watkins

Julie Samson leads the Enterprise Launch class on Thursday, Feb. 12, in the Inter-Disciplinary Center at City College. The class helps students develop their business ideas and guide them through the processes of production and sales.

FLORENCE VAN DEN BERG, Channels staff

Every year, City College students have the ability to enterprise their innovations in hopes of winning prize money that will expedite their idea into reality.

Students from the Enterprise Launch program team up to pitch their business ideas to panel members with the hope of bringing them to life in the Interdisciplinary Building room 111 at City College.

“Someday I want to run my own business so why not take this class. I mean this class is amazing because we put that in use,” said Spencer Frey, a current E-Launch student. “How else would you do that?”

Not only students from City College see potential in this class but also graduates who have stewed with an idea in mind for years. They all attend the course because of the grand opportunity to rapidly launch a product or service.

“It is really for anyone who has the dream to own their own business and wants hands-on experience in how to do so,” said Julie Samson, director of the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

The class mirrors CNBC’s television show Shark Tank by having mentors with entrepreneurial backgrounds providing professional guidance throughout the course.

Executive-Director Doug Lynch shared his message with students, “What pain are you solving or what gain are you providing [to the market]?”

Enterprise Launch started in Fall 2011 as a club and then became a one-credit work experience course. Finally, it bloomed into a three-credit course.

Samson teaches the class every Thursday and leads the evening as student teams give a two-minute pitch one after another. The instructor and mentors provide direct feedback on the pitches and discuss the winner(s) when the class is on break.

The teams have five chances throughout the semester to win up to $200 of which they can apply towards the creation of their prototype.

The areas students will face are ideation, research, prototype development, market validation, sales, and the chance to learn how to present their concept persuasively.

The grand finale is the demo day at the end of the semester where the winner is awarded $1,000 for presenting the best eight-minute pitch.

Samson calls the awards “seed money” that the teams can use as they build their business or start selling in the real world.

One of the success stories from the Scheinfeld Center’s E-Launch program is City College student John Harmon who launched the Oil Slick™ Beach Tar Remover during the course last Fall.

The course is a gateway to hands-on experience that can be valuable for students transferring to four-year universities.

“Whether students win or lose it is really secondary to the amount of hands-on experience they gain,” said Samson. “It is just the most amazing opportunity.”

“It is my passion to help students become entrepreneurs because it is such a valuable life skill that can truly transform their life.”