By KAYLA J. MARSH
WEST LONG BRANCH — The thought of swimming with sharks can be terrifying for many people, but for students at Shore Regional High School, it either made their day or crushed their hopes and dreams.
In an event similar to the hit television series “Shark Tank,” students in the high school’s marketing class had to come up with an idea to market and sell to a panel of judges, “sharks,” who at the end of the pitch would either gives a “thumbs up” that they would finance the project or a “thumbs down” that would crush the dreams of the entrepreneurs.
“I started this about four years ago,” said marketing teacher Christine DeFino at the Feb. 4 event. “It was a great capstone project for the kids to really culminate everything that they have learned in class and to be able to come up with something creative, which is very difficult to do, as you would imagine.”
Instead of pitching to the likes of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, students pitched their ideas to a number of faculty and staff who either helped them swim to success or let them sink to the bottom of the sea.
While faculty members won’t seriously finance the projects, the event is meant to provide students a chance to use all the tools learned in class and to have a first-hand account of what it takes to come up with the next big idea.
“We brainstormed different ideas for quite some time,” DeFino said. “The first thing I had them do when they came up with an idea was to see if it already existed and then to see what the competition would be as well.
“That is when they really began to research and develop their ideas.
“They took all the lessons they have learned in marketing class — product, place, price, promotion — and truly developed their products; the benefits for all their customers, who their target audience would be … they did a great job.”
First up in the tank was Never Wet Sports.
“It’s a rainy day and you want to go outside and play basketball, but you can’t because the ball is wet,” the entrepreneurs said. “Our ball is especially designed so it doesn’t get wet, and it isn’t just basketballs but also footballs, baseballs, soccer balls … any type of ball.”
According to the pitch, the product is state-of-the-art so no one ever has to play with a waterlogged ball again.
“Why pay $25 for a regular basketball when it is not going to do what our ball does and keep it waterproof and last longer,” the entrepreneurs asked the sharks. “We are a one-of-a-kind ball.”
Never Wet Sports received four “thumbs up” from the sharks.
Next into the tank was Snow Step.
“We created a pretty unique product here,” the entrepreneurs said. “Our product Snow Step ‘melts your worries away.’”
According to the pitch, the product is a “revolutionary idea that will change the entire landscape of winter forever.”
“Our product is a combination between high-end boots and top grade foot warmers, so not only does it give you incredible arch support, but provides infinite warmth for your feet while also heating the snow right beneath your feet,” the entrepreneurs said. “There is a Snow Step out there to fit every person.”
Snow Step received four “thumbs up” from the sharks.
“I would definitely buy them,” shark Maura O’Connor said.
World Cooking Wars went swimming with the sharks next.
“The World Cooking Wars is a television show that can be watched worldwide, and we created our product because we wanted to be able to educate people while they’re entertained,” the entrepreneurs said. “While watching our show, viewers can learn new recipes about different cultures and our show will bring individuals from other countries together.”
According to the pitch, each country would nominate a chef who would represent them in the show and would also take turns hosting the event
“The audience is worldwide and are gaining a greater sense of culture,” the entrepreneurs said. “Countries are cooking the same product, but in different ways that are typical to their culture.”
World Cooking Wars received four “thumbs up” from the sharks.
“I would definitely give it a thumbs up,” shark Christine Critelli said. “I think it is interesting to get everybody’s different spin on the same dish.”
Next up in the tank was Extraordinary Windows.
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit of extra,” the entrepreneurs said. “Our product combats sunlight while leaving you full visibility and … provides a clean look to modern homes.”
According to the pitch, the teams looked at what competitors were doing and analyzed and built off faults and figured out how to make their product better.
“Our goal is to make windows that are beyond ordinary and deliver above expectations,” the entrepreneurs said.
Extraordinary Windows received four “thumbs up” from the sharks.
After introducing some new “sharks,” Dollar Defender was next into the tank.
Each panel used during the event consisted of four “sharks.”
“Basically what we have created is a fake business card that you can put into your wallet so if you ever lose it or get pick-pocketed, you can track it,” the entrepreneurs said.
“It is the only device that fits into your wallet like a credit or business card on the market now … most of the other ones are big and bulky.
Dollar Defender received four “thumbs up” from the sharks.
Snow Fox’s motto was: “Kill the cold, entice the warm.”
A glove is attached to the outside of the cuff on your jacket that seals out the elements of snow while keeping you warm from your hand all the way up your arm. The four sharks were divided about this product.
“I do think it is a great product, I just think the market is too flooded and I think you are a little unclear of where you really need to market it,” shark Alison Cook said.
The final entrepreneurs into the tank took a lesson from recent Winter Storm Jonas for their product.
“There are lots of ways carbon monoxide can get into your car and kill you before you even realize it,” the entrepreneurs said. “The Carbon Killer is a small and square device that as soon as it detects carbon monoxide, it will immediately call 911 for you.
“Your life and the lives of anyone else in the car will be saved.”
Carbon Killer received four “thumbs up” from the sharks.
“This is something seriously you guys should really consider marketing,” shark Catherine DiFede said. “This is an opportunity where you can say ‘we learned something in school, came up with the idea and now we’re billionaires.’”