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NMSU business students compete for scholarships in campus ‘Shark Tank’

The College of Business at New Mexico State University awarded $5,000 in scholarships to more than 20 students who participated in the 2019 COBA Business Advisory Council Student Shark Tank Competition, held April 26 at the Las Cruces campus.


A group of people stand in a lobby.
The College of Business at New Mexico State University hosted a ‘Shark Tank’-style competition for students April 26 at the Las Cruces campus. Students, working in teams, presented original business plans before members of the COB Business Advisory Council. The highest-scoring teams received scholarships from a pool of $5,000. (Photo courtesy of Jack Diven)

Similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” the competition at NMSU gave students the chance to pitch original business plans to 20 members of the Business Advisory Council, who acted as potential investors, or “sharks.” Following the presentations, the highest-scoring teams were awarded scholarships from a pool of $5,000.

Ebetuel “Beto” Pallares-Venegas, a college professor in the Department of Finance, hosted the competition with students from his course, MGT 301V: Entrepreneurship Mindset.

“In the Entrepreneurship Mindset class, the students were randomly assigned into teams, and throughout the semester, they developed and refined a business plan for something – anything they’re passionate about – that they believed could be fundable. The opportunity to present to the Business Advisory Council arose later in the semester, giving the students an added incentive to polish their presentations,” said Pallares-Venegas, who also serves as the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship at NMSU. “They’ve taken the learnings from the class and distilled them into a ‘Shark Tank’-style presentation.”

Each team was given 15 minutes to present their business plans and take questions from the members of the Business Advisory Council, who grilled the students, asking about feasibility, profitability, development strategies and return-on-investment estimates. Members of the council then scored each team.

Each team developed their business plan over the past semester to solve a problem. Many pitched ideas to launch mobile apps, including the widely praised “A-Mountain Parking Buddy,” which promises to help users, namely NMSU students, find available parking spaces at the Las Cruces campus. Another team sought to develop a nonprofit that would manage after-school STEM programs for low-income K-12 students.

“This competition gives our students an opportunity to showcase their knowledge and creativity and receive practical advice from many successful entrepreneurs and industry executives,” said College of Business Dean Jim Hoffman, who attended the April 26 event.

Jared Ludica, a sophomore studying criminal justice who presented the parking app plan, earned the “You’re a brave, brave soul” award and a $500 scholarship for presenting alone. Jessica Locke, a senior studying product and supply chain management, also won the same award and a $500 scholarship. She presented her team’s web-based human resources system.

The four winning teams included:

• ValVue, which won the “I want this product, get it into the market place now” award, is an app that lets users take pictures of items and instantly receive an estimated value.

• College Grocers, which won the “I was on the edge of my seat” award, is an app that delivers groceries to users’ doorsteps.

• Sista Sista, which won the “Take my money, please” award, is an art-box subscription service for sorority members that sends art supplies and tutorials to subscribers on a monthly basis.

• Rent-A-Paw, which won the “The world needs this” award, is a dog rental company that allows users to rent dogs for hours, days or weeks.

Each of the four winning teams had five students, who each received $200 in scholarship money.