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College students from Wilson and Penn State Mont Alto will pitch their ideas for business startups next month in a low-stakes version of a popular television show.

The students take either Wilson Prof. Thomas Armstrong’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management class and Penn State Mont Alto Adjunct Prof. Alan Rock’s Small Business Management course.

On Dec. 3 they will pitch their ideas for business startups to a roomful of observers─including a panel of business experts.

Each will have three minutes to present their idea to the three-member panel, followed by a two-minute question-and-answer session. The panel will then offer each student feedback on their presentation, minus the financing provided on the television series.

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It was Armstrong’s idea to have students pitch their ideas in a low-stakes version of the popular ABC television show Shark Tank. In that show, financiers ─ real-life, self-made millionaires and billionaires ─ listen to and evaluate business startup pitches. They then decide whether or not to bankroll the ventures.

The local version won’t include financial help, but Armstrong said it will give students a great learning experience.

“This is experiential learning at its best,” said Armstrong. “You come up with your idea, you own it and you present it.”

Some Student Business Startup Ideas

  • A Barkbox-style subscription service for owners of pocket pets
  • Designer apparel business for music aficionados
  • A sports training service for young people
  • A luxury doggie day camp
  • A sports club for disabled teenagers
  • An animal therapy center for people in need

Presentations take place on the Wilson campus in Laird Hall’s Patterson’s Board Room from 5 to 8 p.m. The public and college community are welcome as observers.

Members of the panel include Kathryn Gratton, SCORE Four-State Chapter Chair; Robin Burtner, Shippensburg University Small Business Development Center interim director; and Malcolm Furman, an analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

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