Four local business people have chipped in $25,000 each to put local entrepreneurs in a Shark Tank-like setting to come up with ways to improve Palm Beach County.
“So many great ideas never see the light of day because of a lack of leadership and communication. We are hoping to teach these skills to our winners,” said Eric Becker, a resident of Jupiter and one of the four investors.
Called Philanthropy Tank, the idea is based on the television show Shark Tank. Each week, nervous entrepreneurs on the show are grilled by five tight-fisted millionaires. The entrepreneurs’ challenge is to prove their ideas are worthy of one or more of the investors to cut them a check.
Building a better mousetrap is the goal on Shark Tank. Philanthropy Tank’s goal is building a better community.
“We’re not looking for a new-fangled widget. We want them to come up with an idea that will help people and will grow beyond their original vision,” said Evan Deoul, AB Bernstein’s Senior Managing Director, who co-chairs Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank with Michael L. Kohner, Managing Director of Andersen Tax.
Applications are being accepted from public, private and home-schooled students in grades 7-12 who live in Palm Beach County. Submission deadline is Dec. 15.
The winners receive up to $15,000. They will meet regularly with one of the four business people for a year to get their advice.
The other three contributors to Philanthropy Tank are attorney William Meyer, Julie Fisher Cummings, who teaches a graduate course on child policy at the University of Miami, and Palm Beach Town Council member Danielle H. Moore.
On Shark Tank, the entrepreneurs get drilled about product reliability, return on investment and employment projections. The interviews at Philanthropy Tank will be just as probing, but the atmosphere will be more relaxed, Becker said.
“I’m looking for ideas that will make the community stronger. Ideas on improving health care, education, transportation and starting a small business,” Becker said.
Preliminary plans call for each entrepreneur finalist to present a 30-second video and make a three-minute presentation to the four investors, who will then have three minutes to ask the questions. Props on stage, such as PowerPoint presentations, are allowed.
Finalists will be announced on Jan. 30. They will have approximately six weeks to prepare their pitch. The finalists will make their final presentations in March at the Harriet Himmel Theater in CityPlace.
“The whole goal is to make the students be able to reach their dream. The best result is that they will come up with ideas that will grow and improve the community,” Kohner said.
For information, go to advisors4impact.org.
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