Shark sightings were reported in BGL’s 7th-grade Learning Live classes this past December! Our students participated in an entrepreneurship competition modeled after Shark Tank, the popular television series where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to savvy investors. Inspired by the show we launched our students head first (pun intended!) into an ocean (again!) of product development and high-pressure pitching. They absolutely loved it.
Here’s how we did it: the students first developed a product idea in a short timeframe with a specific framework: the product had to be original (to the best of their knowledge), marketable and realistic. We worked through business terminology and concepts focusing on marketability, pricing, and profitability. We watched and analyzed product pitches to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Using their newly acquired business terminology and knowledge, students then created a presentation or demonstration for their product idea. They pitched their idea to their classmates via a presentation/demonstration and the classmates voted on whether the product was worth funding. Five finalist groups from each of the 7th-grade classes moved to the final to face the sharks!
Our sharks consisted of a former CFO, COO and executive vice president of IBM Global Services, a computer vision research engineer, and a product manager. They considered our students’ pitches carefully and asked pointed questions within each of their respective expertise (finance, computer engineering, marketing). The students were definitely in “unfamiliar waters” as they sunk or swam. Abner, Gene, and Ian were ready when they were asked about the product liability for their small-space-living-problem-solving “Double Sofa Emergency Alarm System Toaster Clock”. Their fire retardant material was water-resistant/stain-resistant and even had a built-in alarm system that called the authorities for help (whether or not you used the automated wifi connected communication). Oh, it also detected earthquakes and sounded the alarm but still made you breakfast.
All of our Tsai Hsing future business leaders discussed financials of their products on the fly (and in American currency no less!) and demonstrated their ability to negotiate. They thoroughly impressed our sharks, who said they would fund at least half of the products pitched. Their leader, who was a real-life former Shark Tank type of guy, refused to tell us who was the best saying he could not discount the exceptional work of the others by only choosing one as a standout.
The final round of innovative products also included Ann’s OPhone that not only solar-charged and downloaded any app with ease but also improved your eye health. Ann even had medical endorsements! Meanwhile, Eve and our other Ann offered up non-melting ice cream to a panel of hungry sharks. Their ice cream was a scientific breakthrough using a low calorie, all-natural and completely safe proprietary ingredient that lowered the melting point. While the girls created ice cream, Ian and Jordan prepared a savvy new shopping app that was cleverly promoted with an exceptional presentation that even included their new company website and social media accounts – all with usable barcodes.
Not to be outdone, HC proposed a new currency just for students. The currency would work just like Taiwanese dollars but would be given to students from their teachers for things like good behavior and high grades. HC furthered that the money would expire two years after graduation. This would allow students who worked hard to gain a positive start in life. Our former CFO was intrigued but wanted to know how HC made money on the product. HC replied, “You have a credit card, right?” and explained that he would assume the credit card company role and keep a small percentage from all transactions. Since the projects had to be realistic but not real, HC was able to explain that he already had funding approved from the Taiwanese government in an effort to promote domestic spending and to retain the best local talent in Taiwan for the first two years after their graduation. This would help to solve a major problem facing Taiwan right now: a brain drain to neighboring China where economic opportunity can oftentimes be greater than in Taiwan. This was perhaps the greatest example of achieving one of the project’s goals: to create innovative solutions to some of our most pressing real-world problems.
Read more the successes of our Learning Lives distance learning program on these blog posts!