(WXYZ-ANN ARBOR) - You have seen " Shark Tank," which airs Friday nights on ABC. It is a reality show that gives entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of five investors. The "Sharks" then decide whether to put up the money to make dreams come true.
In Ann Arbor this week, dozens of entrepreneurs took part in what you could call a “Shark Tank” Boot Camp. They met with business coaches to refine their pitches at the Ann Arbor SPARK Entrepreneur Boot Camp.
Boot camp winners get space & services from SPARK to help them hit the ground running. More info: http://www.annarborusa.org/business-accelerator/education-training/boot-camp
They also get the chance to pitch their ideas to investors next month.
In the past boot campers have used what they learned to go on to secure several rounds of funding. Tangent Medical even obtained a recent $4.5M investment.
“It is the type of opportunity you only get a few times in your life,” said entrepreneur Grace Hsia.
Hsia is extremely new to this. She is a senior at the University of Michigan. She and her classmates, including sophomore Austin Ruby, want to start a business called M-Wrap. Their goal is to produce blankets with re-usable heating elements that don’t require electricity. They would be used to warm babies in developing countries, where babies often freeze to death.
“The statistic that stuck with me is that 450 babies die every hour around the world (from this.)” said Hsia.
Jason Beale is closer to turning his idea into a reality. He and his business partners plan to launch an on-line coupon company called Regaingo this month. They say it is similar to Groupon, but it focuses on home care and improvement services. He says he has learned that there are many investors willing to help entrepreneurs get started. They have made it possible for Regaingo to open in downtown Detroit. He hopes what he learns at the Boot Camp event helps him refine his pitch and get more support.
“There are so many people who want to help, who want to see Michigan succeed,” said Beale.
He said the “Shark Tank” like event in Ann Arbor is better than the show in one regard. It is helping businesses grow in Michigan, improving our economy, and create jobs.
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