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What the ‘Kids Shark Tank’ thought of Cluster students’ business plans

Friday, April 1 2016 12:00am

Local kids paid Cluster students a surprise visit

Shark Tank CopyBy Brianna Wilson

As students shuffled into their Integrated Business Cluster class last Wednesday, an unlikely group greeted them: nine kids, ages 6-12. 

“A number of you said casually that you’d love to have a focus group with kids to pitch your [business] ideas. Well…here’s your chance,” explained Tammy Rapp, associate director, College of Business Honors Program, and visiting assistant professor of management. “Today we have a kids ‘Shark Tank’. All eight groups will present their business plan to our sharks. If they like the idea, they give a thumbs up and you get extra credit. If not, no extra credit.”

Student group business ideas included an eco-friendly baby store, trampoline park, tree house construction company, create your own coloring book store, build your own doll store, cooking class business for kids, nerf gun park and arcade, and dog training business. Students presented their concepts to the focus group and heard the voice of the customer.

Of course, the Kid Shark Tank judges were tough. They had concerns, questions, and suggestions. What were their most hard-hitting critiques? 

One asked the eco-friendly baby store, “What are you doing to make this store eco-friendly?”

The trampoline park got trampled with the following questions:

“Isn’t that like SkyZone?” 

“What’s your insurance [policy]?”

“This sounds like it’s already a thing, so do you have any other ideas?”

And, someone asked the tree house construction company, “If there’s a big earthquake, will our parents have to pay for the damages?” 

The feedback will also inform Business Bobcats as they continue to define their business concept, model, brand, target market, and business forecasts. 

“Being able to provide the students access to their target market was an exciting opportunity. Both groups, the kid and the students, gained a lot from the experience," said Catherine Penrod, director of the Integrated Business Cluster, director of the Center for Professional Communication, and associate lecturer of management. "When it comes to the Cluster business concept project, there is no substitute for direct feedback from your target customer.”