Middle School QUEST student Rachel O’Malley pitches her
business, “Doggie Bowtique”, to the shark tank of
“investors” Friday morning. O’Malley’s business
feature customizable bow ties and bandanas for furry friends.
— On television, the show “Shark Tank” portrays the
nervewracking journeys entrepreneurs go through as they seek an
investment in their businesses from one of the well known
“sharks,” who are experts in various business industries. The
moment they pitch their business is tense, and the sharks don’t
waste any time throwing them hardball questions as they feel out
whether or not an investment in a particular business is worth their
time and money. On Friday morning, a group of Butler Middle School
students in the QUEST program sought to accomplish a similar task.
is an organization that provides a learning environment where
students can capitalize on their own strengths and learn at their
own pace. All QUEST students presented their quarter-long
“Expedition” projects, with a portion choosing to create their
own products and business plans. Part of the project included having
to field questions from Butler’s version of the sharks — parent
presenters had to explain how they chose their product/brand.
the creative students we are, we’d often times draw on our hands
in the classroom,” explained Kaitlyn Ulalisa, who was part of a
duo that created a henna kit, complete with stencils, a brush and a
homemade henna paste. “We would be drawing on ourselves with
permanent marker and it wouldn’t be good for our skin.”
far, Ulalisa and her partner Lucy Kukla have sold nine of their kits
in a week for $6.99 each. They were seeking a $50,000 for a 30
percent portion of their company, Helpful Henna. The girls cut out
each stencil in the kits by hand and mixed their own non-toxic henna
paste. They were theoretically looking for money to invest in a
laser pointer to make the creation of stencils easier. The sharks,
while impressed with the concept, thought the girls needed a
stronger business plan to get word out about their product.
hoping to branch out and make different kits and designs,” said
Kukla. “So far, it’s just been through word of mouth and our
Ulalisa (left) and Lucy Kukla (right) show the sharks
firsthand how their homemade henna kit works. The two girls,
who describe themselves as very creative, wanted a safer
alternative than drawing on their hands with a Sharpie or
presenters were also asked about product distribution, production
costs, price points, advertising and more.
Each Expedition project is meant to push students past their comfort
zone while still allowing them to personalize their own education.
Outside the shark tank, some other projects students could choose
from included spoken word, a film and photo festival, and the Future
Cities regional competition.
each student pitched his or her idea to the sharks, the sharks then
rated each presentation. Even though not every student could win
best presentation, each one left with a very real business, and some
even designed their own websites.
got my product idea from watching a dog food commercial,” said
Rachel O’Malley, who created the company “Doggie Bowtique.”
“My very first time through, I made adjustable bow ties.”
explained that the bow ties and bandanas she makes by hand are
customizable to different dogs. The price range is from $3$5, and
she has made nine sales in a week.
have my own website that I’ve made, that’s a business type
website,” said O’Malley. “I’m still thinking of ways to help
my business grow.”