Judson Shark Tank Winner | Judson University Christian College

Judson University Senior Wins Annual Shark Tank Event

(ELGIN, IL – November 20, 2020) At the seventh Judson Shark Tank event held November 19, a panel of judges considered pitches from five student contestants who shared ideas and business plans for five new products and services.

Nayeli CisnerosThe event was watched by a small group of guests in person at Herrick Chapel and then broadcast via Facebook Live with more than 135 viewers watching at different times throughout the broadcast and voting on the ideas. The two-hour event included five student business leaders pitching their ideas in front of discerning judges representing various facets of business.

In the end, Senior Nayeli Cisneros of Elgin, Ill., won the $1,000 first-place prize for “Smart Pantry,” an app that would connect the contents of your pantry with your future shopping lists so that individuals would know what needed to be purchased as well as help some shoppers select the right products when sent to the store for a quick shopping trip. Cisneros offered a comprehensive marketing plan and five-year financial model for making the service app a reality. She even explored ways to tie the app into consumers' purchases made at Jewel and Target to track pantry items.

Other winners of the night included Senior Natalia Szkubel of Streamwood, Ill., who received the second-place prize of $500 for “RescYou,” an app that connects a bracelet alert system to benefit victims of domestic violence, who are many times attacked by their perpetrator despite having legal orders of protection. The bracelet would offer a hidden way to call for police assistance, provide a GPS location, and give documentation of the order of protection all at once.

Junior Eliana Sarver ’22 of Villa Park, Ill., took home the third-place honors of $250 and the “Audience Choice” Fan Favorite prize for her idea for “Design Space,” an interior design service that provides levels of design expertise and shopping advice at rates much lower than professional interior design firms. She pitched the service as a way to make professional design more financially accessible while providing designers with a living wage.

The night’s contestants included sophomore Praise-God (P.G.) Nkalang’ango of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who pitched “God’s Hair Designs,” an on-campus barbershop and lounge area for sports fans to watch sports while getting a haircut. Junior Dimitri Ingrassia of Aix-en-Provence, France, pitched his idea “Magnetic Mood Wallpaper” as an easy way to change wallpaper décor that would use metallic sheets to adhere with a variety of designs that could be easily and affordably changed, a service for the home and business marketplace.

Judges for this year’s Shark Tank were Kristin Tews, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Noteworthy, and an experienced media entrepreneur; Mike Lee, President and CEO of KCT Credit Union; and Michael Storey, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Beckatt Solutions. Each of the judges questioned contestants and offered improvements or concerns with each pitch. Emcee Ashley O’Brien gave time for judges to deliberate by playing Kahoot with in-person and virtual audience members. The prize money for Shark Tank is generously sponsored by Thrivent Financial, a Fortune 500 not-for-profit financial services organization with a local office in Elgin.

“This year’s 'Virtual' Shark Tank was the culmination of efforts from a myriad of talented people. The entrepreneurial creativity presented by the five finalists was innovative and enthusiastic. The development of products incorporating technology and connectedness was reflected in their descriptions,” said Traditional Business Program Chair Dr. Joyce Shotick. "In addition to the entrepreneurship class that mentored the finalists, the Event Planning class organized and coordinated this year’s Shark Tank for practical experience."

Shark Tank Group

Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World