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NMSU Arrowhead Center’s Aggie Shark Tank event continues to grow

NMSU Arrowhead Center’s Aggie Shark Tank event continues to grow

Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University hosted its third Aggie Shark Tank event Wednesday at the Las Cruces Convention Center, and while the “shark” investors may have chosen not to bite on any of the business opportunities that were offered up by student and alumni entrepreneurs, they did share an ocean of advice on how they might take their ideas to the next level, along with an offer to try out one product, which may prove more valuable than an investment.

Aggie Shark Tank is based on the popular “Shark Tank” television show, and offers entrepreneurs working with Arrowhead Center’s student business incubator, Studio G, a chance to pitch their ideas for businesses or technology commercialization opportunities to local business leaders for possible investment.

Carlos Murguia describes the benefits of KoolKat roof coating technology to the panel of local “sharks” during the Aggie Shark Tank event Wednesday at the Las Cruces Convention Center. Murguia received the “Audience Favorite” award, with a cash prize of $1,000. (NMSU photo) OCT16
Carlos Murguia describes the benefits of KoolKat roof coating technology to the panel of local “sharks” during the Aggie Shark Tank event Wednesday at the Las Cruces Convention Center. Murguia received the “Audience Favorite” award, with a cash prize of $1,000. (NMSU photo)

The school of Las Cruces “Sharks” includes chile farmer and agribusiness leader Dino Cervantes, real estate developer Mickey Clute, Mesilla Valley Transportation owner Royal Jones, and Sisbarro Dealerships owner Lou Sisbarro.

Jones said after Wednesday’s round of business pitches that he saw a lot of passion in the entrepreneurs’ presentation, but wasn’t hooked by any of their proposals.

“They really had that fire that you need to be successful,” Jones said. “I think some of these ideas have potential in the right market, and while we didn’t choose to invest funds, we’re always ready to share some additional suggestions and guidance.”

Student entrepreneurs included Jason Koenig, one of the creators of Pixanthropy, a company that goes beyond existing crowdfunding platforms to help organizations raise money and connect to a new generation of social donors; Carlos Murguia, who is looking to bring KoolKat roof coating technology to the U.S. market; Jonah Brown of Dynitikos who wants to build a business using a new replication technology that blends 3D printing and conventional metal casting to replicate high-precision, high-quality metal pieces, such as custom jewelry and tools, with rapid turnaround times; Roberto Acosta, who hopes to open Float Spa, a therapeutic center that offers sensory deprivation therapy, which has become popular throughout the country as a way to help people relax and recharge; and Avinash Kuna, whose proprietary technology, SOLAS, brings new capabilities to the security surveillance industry to address today’s challenges and threats.

Murguia’s KoolKat roof coating technology won the $1,000 Audience Favorite prize, voted on immediately following the presentations by a crowd of 200 guests. Murguia said the prize will help him obtain an important certification for his product that will help him move to the next stage in his plan to bring the mineral roof coating product and business, based in Mexico, to the U.S. He also received an offer from Jones to try out the product at his facilities in Las Cruces.

“I’ll keep this moving, and I think the sharks offered some useful suggestions,” he said after the presentations had concluded. “I know from the questions they asked that I need to do more research here in the U.S. I’ve got to be prepared to overcome some skepticism and show that I understand the international market.”

He said one of the most valuable things he gained was the experience of preparing and delivering a pitch. “Look, my hands are still shaking,” he said, holding them up. “But now I know what to expect, and that’s important.”

Studio G Director Kramer Winingham said the process of getting a business ready for a pitch event like Shark Tank can be as important as the outcome, forcing entrepreneurs to really evaluate and fine-tune their plans.

“Studio G really serves as an extension of their team as they develop their business,” Winingham said. “We connect them with a network of mentors and a curriculum to guide their planning, but the entrepreneurs are the drivers here.”

Arrowhead Center CEO Kathy Hansen said the growth of Shark Tank shows that the community is taking a greater interest in how initiatives like Studio G and the Launch proof-of-concept program are creating a pipeline of students and alums who can apply the entrepreneurial thinking they’re cultivating at NMSU.

“This third Shark Tank event had our biggest audience yet, and it’s helping us make additional connections with people who can add value to our programs,” she said. “We’re really grateful to all of our sharks for giving their time and expertise to our student entrepreneurs.”

Information from NMSU

OCT 21, 2016

SOURCE: krwg.org/post/nmsu-arrowhead-center-s-aggie-shark-tank-event-continues-grow

Student Entrepreneurs Score Investments At Aggie Shark Tank

Student Entrepreneurs Score Investments At Aggie Shark Tank

Five Companies run by student entrepreneurs at NMSU gave their best pitches to local investors at the “Aggie Shark Tank” in hopes of taking their businesses to the next level. Just about $80,000 was invested in total across the five companies.

The businesses that gave their pitches at the Aggie Shark Tank ranged from sports equipment, to retro gaming, to health technology. One of the day’s big winners was VR Health Journeys; the 4 sharks invested $30,000 for 20% of the company, and they also won cash prizes for being both the Shark Favorite and the Crowd Favorite.

Steve Eiserling one of the Co-Founders of VR Health Journeys says the company brings Virtual Reality Equipment into health care facilities to help improve the quality of life for patients.

“It also started with basically just wanting to help people that are in palliative care try to get out of their environments because they are stuck in it,” Eiserling said. “And so we use Virtual Reality Equipment to bring experiences to them so they can get out and express themselves, and we found along the terms as we’re doing this there is also a benefit in pain relief and things like that as well too, so it’s been kind of a double whammy.”

The Journey has been driven by personal goals as well as financial ones. Billy Welsh, the other Co-Founder of VR Health Journeys has Cerebral Palsy and wanted to find a way to help friends and loved ones in long-term care facilities.

“I realize that there is a lot of boredom and a lot of things go on,” Welsh said. “And it get really depressing because you’re stuck in a room, especially when you’re a kid. You want to go out and play, but you can’t go out and play because of physical and mental things. So, we’re offering people a solution to let people use state of the art virtual reality, so that they can see the world beyond their room or the bed that their confined to.”

Eiserling says the investment will help them get the equipment and start providing services to local facilities who have already expressed interest in their services.

“We’re going to look at cancer and dialysis centers because they deal with a lot of time that they have to waste as well as chronic pain,” Eiserling said. “Senior Centers as well as other long-term care facilities, and drug and alcohol treatment centers too.”

Beto Pallares, one of the Sharks who invested in the company, says this is one of the most innovative uses for Virtual Reality he’s seen.

“What I found really exciting is the ability to link the aspect of Virtual Reality to a real, known market,” Pallares said. “And this case it’s the therapeutic market, whether it’s for older people, or people in therapies and I found that to be really novel and a really good thing to invest in.”

Pallares says tech is a good industry to invest in.

“If you want to create a culture of innovation,” Pallares said. “You have to support the people who are going out to the edge and saying I have this idea, and I need to validate it in this way or that way. We can’t just assume that the only technology we have access to is what we buy from Amazon, or what we go to Best Buy for, we have to invest in our own innovation.”

Billy Welsh is excited to see the impact that VR Health Journeys can have.

“My goal is honestly to get this in every hospital all over the world,” Welsh said. “To change the face of the medical industry is viewed, to get people off of prescription drugs, to make life a little bit more fun.”

All Five companies that pitched at the Aggie Shark Tank received some type of assistance, whether it is money, time, or business connections.

 

By SAMANTHA SONNER • APR 25, 2016

Link to Original Article: krwg.org/post/student-entrepreneurs-score-investments-aggie-shark-tank

Aggie Shark Tank bites at ADD software idea

Aggie Shark Tank bites at ADD software idea

LAS CRUCES – By the time Rajaa Shindi took the stage to pitch her big idea to investors, she had already seen two other entrepreneurs sink in the Aggie Shark Tank. Could she swim? “I’m here to introduce my passion,” she told the five sharks – successful businessmen with pockets deep enough to invest in student startups if the pitch were a winning one.

Shindi needed to convince the sharks that her software system for treating attention disorders in children not only had market potential but might change the world. Her company is BrainSTEM, she told them, and she was looking for $30,000 in exchange for a 20 percent stake.

Rajaa Shindi shows a prototype of a device that is part of her start-up BrainSTEM to local "sharks" during the Aggie Shark Tank event at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)
Rajaa Shindi shows a prototype of a device that is part of her start-up BrainSTEM to local “sharks” during the Aggie Shark Tank event at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)

The sharks sat in a row in a New Mexico State University auditorium, mimicking ABC’s popular “Shark Tank” show: an auto dealer with 10 new car and truck franchises in southern New Mexico, Lou Sisbarro; Royal Jones, chief executive of Mesilla Valley Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the Southwest; chile magnate Dino Cervantes; general contractor Mickey Clute, president of GenCon Corp.; and Andy Rice, a former Aggie and vice president of Chicago-based private equity firm The Jordan Co.

ABC’s “Shark Tank” pairs hopeful entrepreneurs with billionaire venture capitalists, giving the upstarts a chance to pitch their ideas. If one or more of the sharks bite, they’ll take a share of the company in return for a cash investment.

Programs that mimic the show and let hopeful entrepreneurs hone their pitches in front of venture capitalists or business mentors are all the rage from Albuquerque to Las Cruces.

Albuquerque opened its Epicenter earlier this year, a space offering resources, mentoring and opportunities to interact with other aspiring entrepreneurs. University of New Mexico’s freshman “Shark Tank Talk” class became so popular, attracting more than 100 students each year, that the university added a spinoff “business bootcamp.”

NMSU’s Aggie Shark Tank is the brainchild of Sisbarro – who says he loves the TV show – and the university’s Arrowhead Center for student entrepreneurs. The Shark Tank held Oct. 23 was special because there was real money on the line.

Shindi – an NMSU Ph.D. in computer science and the only woman in the Shark Tank – launched into her pitch, explaining how medication isn’t solving all the problems presented by attention deficit disorders. BrainSTEM presents a brain training program, she said, that can markedly improve a child’s ability to concentrate after a minimum of 20 sessions, 20 minutes apiece.

Local "sharks", from left, Dino Cervantes of Cervantes Enterprises, Royal Jones of Mesilla Valley Trucking and Lou Sisbarro of Sisbarro Dealerships deliberate the winner of the Aggie Shark Tank event at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)
Local “sharks”, from left, Dino Cervantes of Cervantes Enterprises, Royal Jones of Mesilla Valley Trucking and Lou Sisbarro of Sisbarro Dealerships deliberate the winner of the Aggie Shark Tank event at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)

She tested five prototypes at a Las Cruces elementary school over two months, collected data and told the sharks the results were undeniable. Test scores improved, she said, and teachers saw a difference in the children’s ability to focus.

Each of the five entrepreneurs – NMSU students or recent graduates – had five minutes to make their case.

“That five minutes, it was very emotional for me,” said Shindi, a native of Iraq. “You have to convince them and share not just the science, you have to show the passion behind it.”

The sharks had 20 minutes to grill them.

“You aren’t making anything, right?” Sisbarro asked one entrepreneur pitching a new app.

When told by an entrepreneur that he was missing out on a big opportunity, Clute said, “The reason we are sitting here is because we’ve learned not to bite on things we don’t understand.”

The sharks were looking for a solid business proposition, but unlike the TV show, they were also there to offer advice, mentoring and connections, Sisbarro said.

One student, Jorge Banda, earned a $15,000 investment for his concept to capture heat from vehicle motors and use it to power auxiliary systems.

Jones of Mesilla Valley Transportation offered the funding in exchange for 25 percent equity. He also offered access to his fleet of 1,400 trucks for Banda to test his product.

But Shindi stole the show.

Chris Dunn delivers the presentation of his start-up Flooid Lingo to local "sharks" and the public during the Aggie Shark Tank event at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)
Chris Dunn delivers the presentation of his start-up Flooid Lingo to local “sharks” and the public during the Aggie Shark Tank event at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (Andres Leighton/For the Albuquerque Journal)

Sisbarro – who shared that his eldest son had ADD – offered her $30,000 for a 25 percent stake. Afterward, Cervantes asked Sisbarro to split the investment. Shindi won the sharks’ favorite and audience favorite, racking up an additional $3,500 in prize money.

“I think the idea touched several people’s hearts because of the concept, helping children with attention deficit disorder,” Shindi said.

“We’re just trying to give these guys the opportunity in life,” Sisbarro said. “College is wonderful. You learn a lot in books. But entrepreneurship, developing a product and getting it out there, that is real life.”

Of Shindi’s big idea, Sisbarro said he is working with her to further test the product and set up manufacturing in hopes of bringing BrainSTEM to market by next summer.

“It’s going to help a lot of young people overcome this problem,” he said. “I believe her project is going to work.”

By Lauren Villagran / Journal Staff Writer – Las Cruces Bureau
Monday, November 2nd, 2015 at 12:05am
Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

Original Article Link: http://www.abqjournal.com/669093/news/aggie-shark-tank-bites-at-add-software-vehicle-heat-capture.html

Local Startups Participate In Aggie Shark Tank At NMSU

Local Startups Participate In Aggie Shark Tank At NMSU

Shark tank features billionaires looking to find the next big thing, and at the Aggie Shark Tank 5 Las Cruces Sharks are looking to help local Startups grow in the community.

And the local sharks didn’t hold back, grilling each of the young entrepreneurs for around 20 minutes on why their product deserved an investment.

Las Cruces Shark Lou Sisbarro, head of the Sisbarro Dealerships, says this is a fun way to help grow local businesses.

“We need businesses in Las Cruces,” Sisbarro said. “We need young people in Las Cruces, and if we can keep some of these products into Las Cruces what’s going to happen, we’re going to create a better environment. And these guys deserve it. They work hard on a lot of these products and I want to see them be successful.”

Sisbarro invested $30,000 for a 25% stake in the company BrainSTEM created by Rajaa Shindi a recent Ph.D. graduate from NMSU’s Computer Science Program who developed a brain-training system to help assess and treat attention.

“So we just need to exercise the brain,” Shindi said. “And train the brain to pay attention and how long you pay attention. So the uniqueness of the product is that it’s an interactive system, so you interact in a three-dimensional setting. So, that’s why kids are very engaged in the system.”

Lou Sisbarro says the product is necessary to try to help kids and their parents affected by attention disorders.

“You know I’m not looking to make the money on it, but it’s a humanitarian product. I think it’s something that’s really needed. If it works 10% of what she says it’s very worthwhile for a person with ADD and I had a son who had it. So I know what parents go through, so I think it’s a great health product.”

Rajaa Shindi also walked away with two cash prizes totaling $3,500 for both the shark favorite and the crowd favorite. She says she still can’t believe it.
“Because I’m so passionate about this solution,” Shindi said. “It’s a dream come true. Because someone is believing in my work, and someone is believing in what I’m proposing. And I’m excited because it’s going to help. This is really going to help millions and billions of children out there.”

Even companies that didn’t get the funding still took a lot out of the experience. One of those entrepreneurs was Chris Dunn one of the partners in the social media company Flooid Lingo, an app that provides a dictionary for social media sites.

“One thing we know is our application has a specific demographic,” Dunn said. “We are targeting those people between the ages of 16-29 that’s really our users. So, our users at that age probably aren’t going to be investors. They haven’t made their big money yet, so we have to kind of figure out how do we appeal, and how do we make sure that we are easy to understand for the investors who maybe aren’t our particular target audience.”

Sisbarro says even when the Sharks don’t invest their money they still continue to work with the young entrepreneurs.

“We keep in touch with them,” Sibarro said. “And we try to mentor. I think that’s the biggest thing is mentoring, and I think in the future we are going to have a couple of these where we are just going to be mentoring and not buying into.”

$45,000 dollars in investments was given to two companies in the Aggie Shark Tank.

By NEWS EDITOR AND PARTNERS • OCT 26, 2015

SOURCE: http://krwg.org/post/local-startups-participate-aggie-shark-tank-nmsu

Entrepreneurial NMSU students jump into the ‘Aggie Shark Tank’

Entrepreneurial NMSU students jump into the ‘Aggie Shark Tank’

LAS CRUCES – They’re circling. Four greats of the Las Cruces business community are lurking on campus, ready to sink their teeth into promising entrepreneurial ideas from New Mexico State University students. And on Oct. 23, the university’s entrepreneurship engine, Arrowhead Center, will chum the waters with presentations from some of its top clients who are ready to take the plunge.

Cue the “Jaws” theme: Duh-nuh.

Student in foreground, judges at table
Judges, from left, Dino Cervantes of Cervantes Enterprises, real estate developer Mickey Clute, Royal Jones of Mesilla Valley Transportation and Lou Sisbarro of Sisbarro Dealerships, listen to entrepreneur Taylor Burgett, CEO of Byteware, during the Aggie Shark Tank event in August. (Photo for NMSU by Andrés Leighton)

It’s all part of “Aggie Shark Tank,” a new initiative based on the popular “Shark Tank” television series, in which aspiring entrepreneurs present their ideas to a panel of business experts for feedback and potential investment.

The current school of Las Cruces “Sharks” includes chile farmer and agribusiness leader Dino Cervantes, real estate developer Mickey Clute, Mesilla Valley Transportation owner Royal Jones, and Sisbarro Dealerships owner Lou Sisbarro. Organizers have announced the addition of a visiting “mystery shark” whose identity will be revealed at the event.

It was Sisbarro who brought the idea of “Aggie Shark Tank” to Arrowhead Center, as another way he and other business owners could invest their time, knowledge – and perhaps some funding – in support of entrepreneurial students.

“I’m fascinated by the entrepreneurship program here at NMSU,” Sisbarro said. “We can help these students as mentors and give them direction and leadership. This is all about helping them succeed.”

Presenter in front of screen with “Aggie Shark Tank” title
Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, welcomes judges and participants to the Aggie Shark Tank event in August at Pete V. Domenici Hall. (Photo for NMSU by Andrés Leighton)

The Oct. 23 event, which takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Yates Theatre in Domenici Hall on campus, is open to the public. Aggie Shark Tank events in May and August gave the sharks the opportunity to try out the concept and get a look at some of the ideas being developed through Studio G, Arrowhead’s student business incubator.

Competitors at the event will include NMSU students and recent alumni pitching products with applications in the automotive, health care, restaurant, social media and wine industries.

Brooke Higginbotham, a genetics and biotechnology master’s student, was selected as the “Shark Favorite” during the August event for her biomedical technology design. Higginbotham says she learned a lot from talking with the sharks and watching the other presenters talk about their ideas.

“I made a lot of good connections,” Higginbotham said. “The sharks asked great questions. The whole experience of working with Arrowhead Center on this has been great from the beginning.”

In addition to any investment offers the entrepreneurs might receive, two cash prizes will be awarded – $1,000 for the audience favorite and $2,500 for the shark favorite.

“Our sharks really have the opportunity to contribute directly to the success of these businesses,” said Kathy Hansen, Arrowhead Center’s director. “The experience, expertise and feel for markets that they have is so valuable to Arrowhead clients working on entrepreneurial ventures.”

“This is fun!” Sisbarro added. “We are enjoying this, and I think we can make this something big.”

For more information and to register to attend, visit sharktank.nmsu.edu.

Original Article Link: https://newscenter.nmsu.edu/Articles/view/11447/entrepreneurial-nmsu-students-jump-into-the-aggie-shark-tank