LAS CRUCES – As the fifth and final presenter, Robert Herrera, co-founder and CEO of Hatch, was able to get a couple of sharks to bite, accepting a deal that would invest up to $200,000 in his company.

“Today we live in an interconnected world that none of us are ready for,” Herrera said.Hatch is an encryption as a service product that would provide IoT hardware – a system of interrelated computing devices – and platforms with data encryption. It provides authentication and security to protect consumer’s data.

Presenters had five minutes to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of “sharks” as part of Aggie Shark Tank, which was held at the New Mexico State University Music Center’s Atkinson Recital Hall Thursday.

Herrera described the need for the device as keys to a home, where there is one key to a home but copies of the key could get into the wrong hands. There is also the chance that there are two keys, where the second one is “under the mat” and is easily susceptible to being used by anyone.

Hatch would fix this problem by using a method of encryption that would change the passwords to access daily.

“It’s like you’re getting a locksmith to your house every day to not only change your keys but also the locks,” Herrera said.

The encryption would be faster than hackers can keep up with, while also being cheap enough to be a part of everyday products without taking up a lot of memory.

All four sharks thought Herrera’s product was the most investment-worthy product of the evening, and the most timely.

Two sharks — Estela Hernandez, an enterprise advisor at Arrowhead Center at NMSU, and Beto Pallares-Venegas, managing director and co-founder of Cowork Oasis, an innovation community for El Paso entrepreneurs — decided to bite, potentially each investing $100,000 in two $50,000 segments, barring other agreed upon conditions.

The other two sharks were real estate developer Mickey Clute and Sisbarro Dealerships owner Lou Sisbarro.

“This subject is right on, especially with Equifax having all kinds of issues with being broken into,” said Clute. “And this is getting down to the individual level.”

In addition to their pitch, presenters were asked to answer questions on their business such as market forecasts, competition and growth rate.

The participants pitched a wide range of business ideas with the following:

Rachael Ryan with Backyard Farms, an innovative new polyculture aquaponics system that would produce escargot snails, freshwater blue lobsters and hydroponic produce for consumption.

Zohrab Samani with Liquid Organic Fertilizer, a product created by the anaerobic digestion of grass clippings from golf courses to be used as organic fertilizer.

Alexis Cornidez with Maslow, an app that connects students on a campus with each other and local businesses based on proximity of the people.

Alex Gorsuch with FieldMAK, a modular lab in a box that would allow customers to run tests in the field that would usually be done in a lab. This, Gorsuch cited, could be used to help with the backlog of rape kits in the United States.

Two other prizes were also given out during the event. A $200 social media prize for the most likes and shares on social media went to Cornidez. A second crowd favorite prize of $1,000 went to Gorsuch.

This was the fourth Aggie Shark Tank the university has hosted.

MORE: Into the Shark Tank: Aggies pitch ideas to area investors 


By:  Ali Linan, Las Cruces Sun-News, 575-541-5476, or @Ail__Linan on Twitter.