Budding student entrepreneurs will pitch their business or product ideas to a panel of expert judges for a chance to win nearly $2,000 during Judson University's fifth "Shark Tank" event.
The competition, inspired by ABC Network's popular entrepreneurial-themed reality show of the same name, "Shark Tank," is Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in Herrick Chapel on Judson's campus, 1151 N. State St., Elgin.
Judson employees, students and faculty members voted for their favorite business ideas in selecting five finalists. Competing students are:
• Freshmen Joey Pepper and Andrew Lewis, both of Elgin, for their Missionary Sports organization aimed at providing culturally relevant athletic training to children from foreign countries.
• Junior Riley Rowan, of Algonquin, and sophomore Sean Doherty, of Genoa, for their Story Time social media creative writing forum allowing users to post 25-second stories and get real-time responses. People would vote on stories they like and the top three winners would receive a cash prize.
• Senior Thomas Fenske, of Crystal Lake, for The Package Protector -- a post office collection box for the porch.
• Junior Hannah McDowell, of South Elgin, for her Garage 622 -- a rentable garage for people who want to work on cars but don't have the space. It would include lifts for vehicles and tools to rent, locked tool boxes and storage lockers, and a mechanic on duty.
• Senior Nathanael DeLong of Mendota, Illinois, for his MicroPHONE app for people to speak or sing into their phone and the sound would come out via Bluetooth speakers.
Business mentors helped the students prepare by coaching them on economics, including startup costs, pricing, structure, and the break-even point.
This year's judges are: Kevin Krak, president and CEO of Gallant Building Solutions of Crystal Lake; Dan Marquardt, co-owner of Marquardt Buick-GMC in Barrington and a Chicago Automobile Trade Association board member; Jennifer Kendzior, recruiter at Thrivent Financial, this year's sponsor of contest prizes; and Patricia Szpekowski, president of PR Strategies & Communication at PmS Advertising in Elgin.
Judson's pitch competition debuted in spring 2015. The grand prize is $1,000, with $500 and $250 prizes for second and third place, and a $100 for the fan favorite.
This year's competition kicks off with a mini auto show from 6 to 7 p.m. -- weather permitting -- hosted by Marquardt Buick-GMC. Raffle prizes include a free hotel stay and tickets to the Chicago Auto Show, a basket featuring writings from past Judson World Leaders Forum speakers and two World Leaders Forum tickets, and gift cards from BleuRoot and Craft Donuts.