In a Shark Tank-style event next week at Delaware Valley University, local entrepreneurs, startups and nonprofit organizations will make a pitch to a panel of judges and compete for cash prizes to help support their innovations and ideas.
The inaugural Spark Bowl competition is open to the public and is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in the University’s Life Sciences Building auditorium on the Doylestown campus.
The Spark Bowl will feature five local contestants, who had to apply by September to be eligible. The entrepreneurs, innovative businesses and nonprofit organizations will be vying for thousands of dollars in funding to help them address social, consumer or business-oriented challenges in and around Bucks County.
“Local residents who have ideas that can help improve communities will have a chance to receive support, pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, and compete for some substantial monetary prizes to help get their ideas off the ground,” said Dr. Tanya Casas, dean of the University’s School of Business and Humanities.
The first-place award for the competing organizations will be $13,500 in funding. Additional prizes will be awarded to the second- and third-place teams.
The contest will be judged by experienced investors who have a desire to support innovation and economic growth in the local community.
The judges are local entrepreneurs, including Michael Araten, the president and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, LP; Fred Beans, head of The Fred Beans Automotive Group; Susan Lonergan, the regional president of Fulton Bank’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Division; William Schutt, a DelVal trustee, Schutt is the founder, former owner and chairman of MATCOR, Inc.; Henry E. Van Blunk, an attorney in the Business and Corporate Law and Litigation practice groups at Eastburn and Gray.
“This competition will change lives, improve the community, and give our students valuable experience serving as consultants for real businesses and organizations” Casas said.
As part of DelVal’s experiential learning program, DelVal student teams have worked with final contestants to prepare for the competition under the guidance of DelVal faculty and advisers from its Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center (SBEC). The top three student teams will also be eligible for cash prizes.
The deadline for participants was Sept. 15 and applicants had to be existing businesses that are less than or equal to 36 months old as of the deadline, to be eligible to enter.
Spark Bowl is presented by the University’s Department of Business and Information Management and the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce. As part of DelVal’s experiential learning program, student teams are working with the contestants to prepare for the competition under the guidance of DelVal faculty.
“The competition will provide Delaware Valley University students with the opportunity to apply what they’re learning in class to help local entrepreneurs, innovative businesses and nonprofit organizations,” Sasas said.
The plan is to the event every year, she said.