Tyesha Vinson/MJ
Tyesha Vinson/MJ

By AMBER AINSWORTH, Guest Writer

On Thursday November 7, the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s American Marketing Association (AMA) hosted a competition modeled after ABC’s television series Shark Tank. On the show, entrepreneurs pitch potential inventions to a board of investors in hopes of getting investments towards their products. Similarly, students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, made up of UM-Dearborn business professors and the former president of AMA.

Students presented ideas both alone and as small groups. Inventions ranged from a recreational racing car to an application to assist with finding parking on the campus to an interactive touchscreen calendar, among others.

By using slideshow presentations, talking, and even a skit, the young entrepreneurs presented their work in a mere five minutes, while also fielding questions about their products from the judges.

The pitches included details about the inventions, including how much the product would cost to produce, how much it would be sold for, as well as how much money would be needed from investors in order to start producing the item.

Many of the students attempted to appeal to the audience, made up mostly of UM-Dearborn students. For instance, the group that presented the app about parking spots described the parking issues on campus, asking the audience for a show of hands if they had ever been late to class because of parking blunders.

After seven pitches from very knowledgeable students, the judges took a moment to discuss the ideas and decide on the winners of the competition. The third place winner was more of a business rather than a product, and was the idea to have a movie theater type atmosphere to watch sports events for a nominal price. In second place was the concept of placing massage chairs on campus and charging students and faculty a small fee to use them for five minute intervals.

Finally, the first place winner, pitched by Michael Saad, was a sink that would include an extra handle with the hot and cold knobs that would run water like a waterfall into the bowl of the sink. Dubbed “Dirty Sink”, the water would catch hair, toothpaste, and other debris left behind bathroom sinks.

The judges also offered opinions about the products and what would improve them as they announced the winning inventions.

The winners were awarded small trophies and medals, as well as gift cards for their achievements. Although the prizes aren’t investments towards a new business, according to AMA President Mason Sokana, the competition gives students the chance to create a product and practice marketing it on their own.

It should also be noted that after the winners were announced, the participants were told about a class offered next semester that would help them with creating and marketing their own products.

Shark Tank is just one of many events put on by the AMA in honor of Marketing Week here at UM-Dearborn. Any students interested in getting involved with UM-Dearborn’s chapter of the American Marketing Association can attend general member meetings on Mondays in room 116 Fairlane Center North.