Photos: Holy Cross Student Entrepreneurs Compete for Funding in Annual ‘Shark Tank’ Competition

Over $13,500 in prizes awarded to six lucky winners
February 27th, 2018 by 


The three panelists, or sharks, applaud a successful pitch during the Shark Tank Competition last Thursday. This year’s panelists included (left to right) Stacy Chin '12, Tyler Scionti '15, and professor Daniel Klinghard. Photo by Austin Bosworth


Riley Benner ’20 presents the sharks with neckties made by Phoenix Haberdashery, Benner’s company that employs local Syrian refugees to assemble men’s fashion accessories. Photo by Austin Bosworth


Hawar Haddadi ’19 does his best to woo the crowd during his pitch for Device Doctors, a go-to-dorm repair service for college students with damaged electronics. Haddadi was awarded the People’s Choice Award, a $100 award that goes to the audience’s favorite pitch that night. Photo by Austin Bosworth


Christina Nee ’19 pitches the judges on her project Top Banana, a solution for discarded bananas that never make it to market. Nee was awarded $1,140 in seed funding. Photo by Austin Bosworth


Nathaniel Chung ’18 smiles as he finishes his pitch for EchoMe, a social media platform designed for sharing music with friends in real-time, from anywhere. Photo by Austin Bosworth


Prior to the announcement of the winner, the sharks gave some feedback to each of the contestants, sharing wisdom on public speaking, time management, and more sophisticated long-term business plans. Left to right: Stacy Chin ’12, Tyler Scionti ’15, professor Daniel Klinghard, Ja-Naé Duane. Photo by Austin Bosworth


Dillon Carmichael ’18 unbuttons his dress shirt to reveal the first merchandise for Redefining Black Masculinity, his company that aims to make a difference in the lives of young black males who lack positive role models in contemporary pop culture. Carmichael’s company was one of the two winners of the Venture round, receiving $5,000. Photo by Austin Bosworth


The final winners of the Shark Tank Competition pose with the sharks as well as the coordinators for the event, Ja-Naé Duane, Lecturer and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and professor David Chu, Director of Entrepreneurial Studies and Pre-Business Advisor. Back from left: Richard Palazzese ’18, Riley Benner ’20, Tyler Scionti ’15, Hawar Haddadi ’19, Daniel Klinghard. Front from left: professor David Chu, Stacy Chin ’12, Brad Ross ’18, Christina Nee ’19, Dillon Carmichael ’18, Ja-Naé Duane. Photo by Austin Bosworth

It was a funding frenzy last Thursday as the College of the Holy Cross hosted its sixth annual “Shark Tank” competition, based on the popular television show. Held by the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies, students with innovative ideas for goods or services delivered short pitches to a panel of Holy Cross faculty and alumni, hoping for seed or venture funding to get their companies off the ground. The panel, or “sharks,” consisted of Daniel Klinghard, professor of political science and director of the J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World, Stacy Chin ’12, Founder and CEO of HydroGlide Coatings, and Tyler Scionti ’15, product expert for HubSpot.

After the spirited pitches and a short reception, four awards were presented. By vote of the audience, the People’s Choice Award was given to Hawar Haddadi ’19 and Michael Lyons ’19, who pitched Device Doctors, a go-to-dorm repair service for electronics, receiving $100. Christina Nee ’19, who pitched Top Banana, a solution for discarded bananas that never make it to market, was awarded $1,140 in seed funding. The Ignite Fund prize in the amount of $2,500, given to students who seek to “set the world on fire” with solutions to the world’s needs, was awarded to senior Brad Ross ’18 for Scopum, an electronic net that covers the goals of sports like lacrosse and hockey to deliver real-time player performance during practice.

The final award, the Venture Fund, was given to both Dillon Carmichael ’18 for Redefining Black Masculinity, an online outreach platform addressing and shaping the public perception of black masculinity in America, and Riley Benner ’20 for Phoenix Haberdashery, an enterprise working with refugees living in Worcester to create neckwear and helping them build a new life. Benner and Carmichael each received $5,000 to continue the growth of their businesses and both are using the money to build brand awareness, increase outreach, and increase production.

This year’s competition was organized by Ja-Naé Duane, Holy Cross’ new entrepreneur-in-residence, a best-selling author and serial entrepreneur. Duane joined the Holy Cross family in fall 2017, and since then has made it her mission to instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across campus, amongst alumni and in the broader community.

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