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Marketing Students Dive into ‘Shark Tank’

From left, team members June Schindler, Justin Schenck and Charis Colson make a presentation before a panel of local business leaders in a wrap-up project for a Marketing Management class at CVTC.

Eau Claire, WI – Students dread final exams, and at the end of this past semester, students in Laurie Boettcher’s Promotion Principles class at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) had a little more reason to be nervous. For their final project, they were going to be thrown into the Shark Tank.

Perhaps the pressure wasn’t as intense as seen on the popular “Shark Tank” ABC TV network reality show in which aspiring entrepreneurs make pitches to potential investors ready to rip their ideas to pieces. Still, local business professionals, not just fellow students and their instructor, listened to student pitches and delivered their verdict on whether they would invest.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a fun experience,” said Quinn Weiss, part of a group that pitched a cell phone application to the panel. “I had a lot of fun getting up there and being professional.”

Promotion Principles is part of the Marketing Management program.

“Through 16 weeks, they had to provide different promotions for a fictitious business,” Boettcher explained. Assignments included designing logos and developing advertisements to be used in different media. They also developed an overall marketing strategy, which could include use of social media, trade show presentations, event sponsorships and other marketing tools.

“This was the first time we did presentations at the end, but I wanted the students to have the chance to pull it all together,” Boettcher said. “To get feedback from professionals in the area was the biggest aspect.”

Weiss’ group, which included Justin Schenck, Charis Colson and June Schindler, pitched a cell phone app called “Face On.” The app would allow users to place their faces, or the faces of friends, on the bodies of celebrities or on people in exotic locations to create fun pictures for social media.

“You can have lots and lots of fun with this app!” Schenck told the panel.

Schenck had no problem getting in the Shark Tank. “I wasn’t nervous. I do comedy every weekend on open mike.”

Schindler could handle the sharks because she was prepared.

“I was up late last night going over it. You have to practice,” Schindler said.

Another group pitched an energy drink that not only boosted your energy, but made you smarter as well. A new and better hockey helmet was the product another team pitched, and one group developed a real marketing plan for a meat market in Lublin, Wis.

Playing the part of the “sharks” on the panel were Jen Kane of Associated Bank, Brent Pickard of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Susan Peterson of Junior Achievement, Michelle Harris of Charter Bank and Ryan Lawceiwicz of Rich’s Sausage Shak.

“I graduated with a marketing degree and I thought I would be a good fit for the panel. I like to help out students,” Harris said. “They did great. There were a lot of varieties of ideas, and they did a lot of research on what is best for their product.”

“They were able to show what they learned,” said Kane. “They probably didn’t realize what all went into running a business and the ways they could market it.”

“If they get the budgets they ask for, their plans are realistic,” Harris said. “I like that they chose media that’s going to work for their product. You can use everything, but it’s not always a good fit.”

Taking some pressure off the students was the fact that whether the panelists gave them a “yes” or “no” on the hypothetical investment did not affect their grade.

“I was really impressed with their presentations. They were really nervous, but they thought outside of the box,” Boettcher said.