Stony Brook is having its very own pitch competition, much like ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Wolfie Tank will be held on Nov. 2, 2015 in SAC Ballroom B at 5:30 p.m.. The competition gives seven students the opportunity to bring their ideas and inventions in front of a panel of judges who can offer them advice—and possibly an investment opportunity.
Students can apply to participate online until Oct. 9. The application requires that the student submit a description of the idea, the problem they are solving, the target market and an explanation of why they are coming to the pitch night.
The university’s new Innovation Lab, located in Harriman 210, is organizing the competition. Everyone is free to watch Wolfie Tank, as long as they RSVP online through the Innovation Lab’s website.
The creators of the competition are Samiha Shakil, a senior engineering sciences major and staff member of the Innovation Lab, and David Ecker, the director of the lab.
“We wanted to do something that would be a showcase event that would really document and show what we have been doing in the [Innovation] Lab,” Ecker said.
After going to watch a LaunchPad pitch night in Huntington over the summer, Shakil saw that this was something that could be done at Stony Brook.
“We saw we could definitely do an event like this at Stony Brook, where students who have ideas and need feedback could get it from people who were in the industry,” she said.
While there have been other entrepreneurship competitions in the past, such as “The Social Entrepreneurship Competition” and “Stony Brook Entrepreneurs Challenge,” Wolfie Tank differs from them in a number of ways. First off, there is no cash prize.
“Wolfie Tank is an actual place where pitches can be given to judges and feedback can be given back, without any award,” Ecker said.
Wolfie Tank is also unique because ideas are being accepted in all stages of development. Other competitions on campus have encouraged students to enter with ideas that are highly developed and maybe even have prototypes.
“I think it’s cool too that we are accepting all different stages of the product,” said Morgan Kelly, senior majoring in applied mathematics and technological systems management and a technical student assistant for Wolfie Tank. “We are just offering this to anyone who has an idea and they just need some feedback on that.”
The creators of Wolfie Tank said they want the competition to be a fun environment, placing an emphasis on the learning and networking benefits.
“We kind of have a fun environment in the lab, and we want to translate that to the event,” Shakil said.
The judges of the competition are entrepreneurs themselves. Paul Trapani is the vice president of LISTnet, one of the sponsors of the event, and will also be judging the competition.
“I will be looking for how well they thought out some of the business issues,” Trapani said. “The numbers are usually way off. They either grossly overestimate the money they will need or grossly under estimated.”
A major red flag, Trapani says, would be “someone looking for money. They have an idea but just want to sit back and get rich.”
Andrew Hazen, co-founder and CEO of Wolfie Tank sponsor LaunchPad, is another judge.
“This is the time to go out and surround yourself with mentors,” Hazen said, pointing out the importance of exposing students to entrepreneurship. “The lessons they can learn now are so valuable.”
Correction: Oct. 1, 2015
A previous version of this story erroneously reported the name of one of Stony Brook University’s entrepreneurship competitions. The name of the competition is “The Social Entrepreneurship Competition,” not “The Competition.”
Featured image credit: Stony Brook University Innovation Lab