School entrepreneurs were recently given a chance to take their business ideas prime time when ABC’s Shark Tank held a private casting call for students and alumni on campus Wednesday, June 11.
Participating entrepreneurs — 28 teams in total — presented one-minute elevator pitches before answering questions from Shark Tank producers. Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran stopped by to speak with reporters about the opportunity. “Standing here at Columbia with all these bright entrepreneurs going into the audition, you can taste the excitement, potential, and opportunity,” Corcoran said. “The Shark Tank producers don’t travel easily, but they’re here at Columbia.”
For Kat Vorotova ’14, cofounder of Try The World, a startup that sends subscribers a box of gourmet eats from a different country every two months, the audition represented just the latest opportunity Columbia Business School offered to launch and grow a new business. "Even now, after my cofounder and I have graduated, Columbia Business School continues to support our venture,” Vorotova said. “With the Lang Fund's investment in Try The World and continuing opportunities like the Shark Tank casting call, we feel grateful to have this amazing resource at our fingertips. Because of its excellent faculty, ties to the business community, and location in New York City, Columbia is by far the best university for aspiring entrepreneurs."
Emily Washkowitz ’14 agrees. She launched Shareswell, a simple and secure platform for gifting stock, while still a student at the School. “It was the perfect time because I was able to take advantage of the School's resources and thrive in a dynamic environment,” said Washkowitz.
Participants will hear back from Shark Tank producers within the next month; selected teams then undergo a vetting process before further consideration. If all goes well, they will appear in front the “sharks” — the show’s judges — on a future episode.
Shark Tank was nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Reality Series in 2012 and received a Producers Guild Award nomination in 2013. In both 2012 and 2013, Shark Tank received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Program.