SAINT AUGUSTINE — Thirteen students experienced first-hand the intense scrutiny of pitching a business idea last Thursday when they competed in Flagler College’s “Lion’s Cage,” an event based on the popular TV show “Shark Tank.” Four business leaders served as the judges. Senior Jose Mizrahi, who pitched the idea of an “Uber for tutoring” app called Brighter Future, emerged victorious, claiming the top $1,000 prize.
“I’m very excited to have won,” the Business major said. Mizrahi, the last of five finalists to enter the “cage,” proposed an app that connects people who want to learn with people who want to teach. Those who want to teach become tutors in exchange for community service hours, while people who receive the tutoring have to make a donation for every hour of tutoring they receive. All proceeds from donations go into building schools in third world countries.
“I feel like my pitch went pretty well but the first question they asked me had two parts and I was so nervous I completely forgot the second part of the question,” Mizrahi said. “Thankfully they repeated the question and I was able to answer the questions that followed. I learned that it requires a great deal of courage to present an idea you are passionate about to people who will ultimately criticize it. This was a great experience because it gave me a taste of what it’s like to actually pitch an idea for potential investors. I honestly really enjoyed it.”
Other winners included second place Tubed Surf Wax and Sunscreen (by Scott Babbitt, Matthew Lane and Colin Kosco) and third place No Sympathy Swimwear (by Gabrielle Walters).
The judges for the event included: Craig Dickman, founder of Breakthrough Fuel; Ryan Dettra, co-owner of St. Augustine Distillery; Chris Kaminski, CenterState Bank president and sponsor of Business Week; and Isabelle Rodriguez, president of St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
“Lion’s Cage” was part of a series of activities for the college’s inaugural Business Week, a multi-day event designed to give Flagler students real-world experience by inviting business leaders to campus to share their professional experience and wisdom.
Other events included a business leaders panel, etiquette dinner and business marketing and networking sessions. On Thursday evening, Dickman delivered a keynote address during the Week’s “CEO Dinner,” hosted by the college’s Business Advisory Board and sponsored by CenterState Bank. Dickman’s company has been recognized as a leader in transportation energy management and has won innovation awards from major companies. The event was an opportunity for Business students to network with professionals in various industries.
“Business Week was a great team effort from all across campus, with our Business Advisory Board, administration, Board of Trustees, community leaders, alumni and students,” faculty advisor and Assistant Professor Paula Holanchock said. “It was a great opportunity for our students to network but also to expand and apply their knowledge in the business world with the support and guidance of so many great business leaders and alumni.”
Holanchock was assisted by student organizers Mary-Jo Lendering and Nicholas Pappas.
“This is by far one of the biggest things I was able to accomplish at Flagler,” Lendering said. “Seeing students enjoying, learning and showcasing this week has been the absolute best.”
Based on the success of the week-long event this year, Holanchock said plans are in the works for another “Business Week” next year.