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Jun 23, 2017

RBR Holds First “Shark Tank” Competition

The first annual RBR Shark Tank took place on May 30 and was sponsored by the Red Bank Rotary Club, which offered a total of $5,000 to the top three winners. The tension was palpable as student finalists presented their invention, product or service to the panel of judges at RBR’s “Shark Tank” Competition. The judges, which included Rotarians Chris Zatorski and Jay Schwartz, Two River Times News Editor Christina Johnson, RBR STEM Supervisor David Fusco and RBR business teacher Cheryl Washington, all asked pointed and penetrating questions to the presenters.

RBR Superintendent Dr. Moore stated of the event, “The essential purpose of this program is to encourage connections to the real world by challenging students to use their entrepreneurship and creativity in developing an idea or product to make the world a better place.”

Applicants presented a viable business plan for an innovative and realistic product or service. Proposals included details about the manufacture of the product or delivery of the service as wells as: costs; anticipated profits, projected growth; details about customer base. From the pool of applicants the following seven finalists emerged.

The projects included:(1) “BUC Brew- the establishment of an after-school coffee bar; (2) a reselling venture for highly sought-after brand items; (3) “EZ Keys”–an adaptive piano for the disabled; (4) “King of the Sandcastle Chair” a portable, adjustable sand chair, umbrella combo with solar phone charger for the beach called; (5) “Power Buddy”– a portable buddy-sharing phone charger that need not be pre-charged and promotes face-to-face communication;  (6) “Vybz Cosmetics” -an organic, water-based make-up foundation and cosmetic brand; (7) “World of Wars” –a new generation of video-games modeled on historically accurate battles through time.

The judges returned their verdict expressing that while all the projects were well presented and well received, three stood out for the passion and knowledge the students expressed.

First place and $2,500 went to EZ Keyboard, a year-long engineering project by Academy of Engineering seniors Bryce Barnes of Shrewsbury, Ryan Humelsine of Neptune Township, and André Van Der Linde of Belmar.  All three young men, who intend to continue their engineering studies in college, are also musicians. They presented a prototype which allows amputees or disabled people with severe arthritis to play full chords with the use of just one hand.

During the presentation, Ryan explained, “We wanted this to help with a patients’ means of recovery by gaining back something that they had a passion for.”

The boys had generated great interest in their invention from both physical therapists and their patients.  They also researched patenting their product as well as all the costs that would allow them to sell the device competitively with simple piano keyboard.

Vybz Organic Cosmetics’ creator, senior Jaydah Diaz of Red Bank, took second place for $1,500.  She wowed the audience and judges with her in-depth knowledge of the organic composition of makeup that was beautiful as well as healthy for the skin. Jaydah explained, “This is my passion and I would like to someday own my own makeup company.”

Moises Orocio of Red Bank, a freshman, took the third place prize of $1,000 for his unique reselling company. He explained how he finds bargains in stores or on-line of very desirable merchandise, like designer sneakers, and then resells them for a profit.  He told the judges that he has had considerable success with this venture in the past and added that “it is not just about making money but giving back to those in need” as he intended to make donations of his products to those who could least afford it.  Moises also told the judges who were very impressed with his knowledge and skill in his project that, “I want to be the first entrepreneur in my family.”

The Rotary Club did not stipulate what the prize money could be used for, leaving it up to the entrepreneurs. The seniors all commented that their prize winnings would assist with next year’s college expenses.  Moises, who is only a freshman, indicated that he will use it to build his inventory for his reselling venture.