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Bay News 9 – 11/28/22 – Hernando schools host mock ‘Shark Tank’ competition

Hernando schools host mock ‘Shark Tank’ competition

Hernando County Schools hosted its own version of the popular show “Shark Tank” where middle school students created their own businesses & gave their “elevator pitch” to local entrepreneurs.

The program is thanks to the Community Foundation and “Virtual Enterprises Junior Ventures” Career Academy, which helps teach middle school students all about the business world by creating their own.

Meet the tech industries newest, and youngest, entrepreneurs, Lily Mrozek and Makayla Gray, eighth graders at Fox Chapel Middle School in Spring Hill. “BIT” was originally going to be a website, but Makayla says that changed after doing some research. “We got opinions from other people and they said they would want it to be a real thing, so we decided to make it into an app.”

Even though this app isn’t actually functional, the business idea behind it is very real. “Basically, it’s a therapy app that helps you with body image and lifestyle,” said Makayla.

The girls worked very hard on creating their business plan, and they say it’s something they’re very passionate about. Both say they’ve struggled with their own insecurities, which is why they created an app to help teens in their marketing and entrepreneurship class.

They practiced their “elevator pitch” for the “Hernando StartUp ThrowDown” where middle school students will pitch their business ideas to local entrepreneurs, competing for first, second and third place.

Despite the nerves, Lily and Makayla feel ready when the time comes to pitch their app. Each student has 60 seconds to make their pitch. The girls include everything in that short time—startup costs, their target audience, and marketing plans. Then, they wait for the judges’ results.

Unfortunately, Lily and Makayla didn’t place in the competition, but they say through the process, they learned a lot about not only business but also, the courage & confidence they each have—to fight back their nerves, take the stage, and confidently share their hard work, just like the future business women they plan to be.

The first place winner was Leena Surujbali from Explorer K-8. The top three winners received gift cards from Virtual Enterprises International.

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