'Spark' Tank gives ASU students opportunity to create a business

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The popular TV show "Shark Tank" matches charismatic investors with fledgling entrepreneurs.

On Thursday night, Arizona State University students got a taste of the "Spark" Tank. It's the same idea, but students are the ones getting paid for their ideas.

These may be students, but the investors -- or sharks -- said they can't believe the level of sophistication coming from them.

One group of aspiring entrepreneurs is walking away with $50,000 to grow its business.

The products included a home safety system, a reading app and revolutionary snowboard bindings.

The W.P. Carey School of Business asked four real-life entrepreneurs/investors to come up with an idea to help students understand business and marketing.

Carr Bettis said the board decided why not do a twist on "Shark Tank"? Ask students for their ideas and invest real money.

"Super exciting program for us because of the students' learning experience and it's, frankly, an investment opportunity because we see deals and ideas all the time," Bettis said. "It's another set of ideas that we get to look at from a really motivated group of people who are going to welcome mentorship and involvement by the investors."

Seventy video submissions were narrowed down to five teams that were given $5,000 each to actually develop a product.

"We were, frankly, very surprised by the quality," Bettis said.

"We figured out how to file a patent, how to establish an LLC," Rebecca Christensen said. "We realized there's a lot more to marketing than just making fliers and throwing them at people."

And from those five teams one walked away with $50,000 to build a real-life business. The investors chose a business called Mochi -- a mobile classified app that allows students to safely buy and sell things on campus.