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Judson University's Shark Tank Competition Fires Up Next Week


(ELGIN, IL – November 7, 2018) Judson University’s fifth Shark Tank event will take place on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in Herrick Chapel (1151 N. State Street, Elgin). The finalists have been selected. The judges are in place, and the stage is set for the top competitors to win nearly $2,000 in prize money.
Inspired by ABC Network’s business competition show, “Shark Tank,” Judson’s pitch competition debuted in spring 2015. 

This year’s competition began with a Shark Tank Ideas Showcase in the Campus Commons to allow staff, students and faculty an opportunity to vote for their favorite business ideas. The five voted best will now share their pitches during the November 15 event.
The competing students are (shown below from left to right): 

  • Senior Nathanael DeLong of Mendota, Ill., and his idea for MicroPHONE.
  •  Senior Thomas Fenske of Crystal Lake, Ill., and his idea for The Package Protector. 
  • Junior Hannah McDowell of South Elgin, Ill., and her Garage 622 idea. 
  • Freshmen Andrew Lewis and  Joey Pepper, both from Elgin, Ill., and their idea for a Missionary Sports organization.
  • Sophomore Sean Doherty of Genoa, Ill., and Junior Riley Rowan of Algonquin, Ill., and their idea for Story Time.

Shark Tank 2018 
Business mentors helped prepare the contestants for the event by discussing the economics of the business including start-up costs, pricing, structure, and the break-even point. The business mentors included Ben Glunz from Anguleris Technologies, Blaine Bontempo from Calibre Coffee, Rob Umlauf from Thrivent Financial, and Donna Impala. 
Their projects will be carefully scrutinized by a panel of judges that include:

  • Kevin Krak, President and CEO of Gallant Building Solutions, a 70-year old construction and maintenance services provider. Gallant is one of Crain’s top privately held companies for several years and voted one of Chicago’s Best and Brightest companies for three years in a row. Krak is also the founder and visionary for RocHaus, a live music venue in West Dundee, Ill. 
  • Dan Marquardt, co-owner of Marquardt Buick-GMC in Barrington and serves on the board of directors for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. Marquardt Buick–GMC is the host of the mini auto show prior to the event, weather permitting. 
  • Jennifer Kendzior, recruiter at Thrivent Financial, sponsor of the contest prizes this year. Jennifer graduated with a major in Entrepreneurship from Bradley University in 2011. 
  • Patricia Szpekowski, APR, is president of PR Strategies and Communication in Elgin. This national and regional award-winning advertising agency/public relations firm, founded in 1987, specializes in a variety of services for businesses and nonprofit/faith-based organizations, including professional writing, media relations, creative graphic design and custom candid event photography. 
The competition won’t be strictly about business ideas only. Weather permitting, there will be a mini auto show from 6 to 7 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to win raffle prizes including a free hotel stay and tickets to the Chicago Auto Show; a basket featuring writings from past World Leaders Forum speakers as well as two World Leaders Forum tickets, and gift cards from BleuRoot and Craft Donuts. The event will be hosted by Judson senior communication major Jennifer Dotson. 
The competition’s grand prize is $1,000, with $500 and $250 prizes for second and third place, and a $100 prize for the fan favorite.


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