More than 50 students in the Meadowbrook Academy for Developing Entrepreneurs had 90 seconds each to pitch their products or services during a Shark Tank competition April 13. The top eight students will move on to round 2, which will take place in May at VCU. The top four students will receive $1,000 to turn their entrepreneurial dream into reality.
Judges on April 13 were Elliott Eddie, inventor of The Entrepreneur Game; Jeanette Stevens, owner of iSimplyAssist; Kelsey Steenburgh, coordinator of external affairs for the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation; and Cindy Garrett, DECA volunteer.
How it came about
At the beginning of the school year, the Chesterfield Education Foundation asked if M.A.D.E wanted to collaborate and apply for the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth grant from the Community Foundation. As part of that collaboration, Shannon Tual, specialty center coordinator of the Academy for Developing Entrepreneurs, brought in the VCU da Vinci Center, a partnership we have had for the past three years. Through the grant, our M.A.D.E students are participating in the VCU Entrepreneurship Academy, earning micro-credentials in Design Thinking, Business Model Canvas, Art of the Pitch, and Digital Literacy. VCU graduate students are teaching these classes at Meadowbrook and offering office hours to mentor our students.
In their M.A.D.E. courses, students are writing executive summaries, creating prototypes or visual aids, and writing pitches to present to the judges. The top two winners from each grade level will advance to the VCU Shark Tank on May 11. There each grade level will have one winner that will win $1000 seed money for their business. All businesses in the final round will be on display at the VCU Shift Retail Lab.