Swimming with sharks
‘Shark Tank’ for students held at Generac

John Holman - Special to The Freeman

Sept. 4, 2014

The 'Shark Tank' panel from left to right: Jim Zaiser, Debbie Seeger, Dawn Tabat
and Suzanne Kelley.
Submitted photo

WAUKESHA - The nonprofit GPS Education Partners recently hosted its annual product launch competition for high school students, based on the TV show, “Shark Tank.”

Seven students from GPS Education Partners played the roles of inventor and entrepreneur Thursday as they faced a panel of six local business “sharks” in the board room of Generac Power Systems in Waukesha.

Three teams were challenged to use knowledge and skills gained by working alongside business mentors to create an original product and pitch it to the board. Each shark had $1 million of imaginary money to invest, totaling $6 million.

Team Chill Grill, comprising Andreas Rauch of Palmyra and Emmanuel Buck from Mukwonago, led the competition by attracting $2.45 million. The team invented a grill that doubles as a cooler and includes a stereo system, bottle opener, faucet and LED lights, among other features.

Andreas Rauch sells his winning product, the Chill Grill, to the panel of 'sharks.'   
Submitted photo

Cameron Champlin from Mukwonago and Greg Wulf of East Troy represented Team Snapflex. Their product raised $2.3 million and came in second place. They created a cellphone case with multiple attachable modules, including an outdoor utility tool, wallet, reserve battery, and golf tools.

Team Meta-Morphis had three members: Kole Bailey from Eagle, Skyler Kron from North Prairie and Michael Furman of East Troy. They invented a convertible shoe that transforms into 12 different pairs of women’s shoes and boots, and features accessories such as flowers and ribbons. Team Meta-Morphis came in third with $1.25 million.    

The panel included Terry Dolan, executive vice president of global industrial products at Generac; Jim Zaiser, president at Hydro-Thermal Corp., Waukesha; Debbie Seeger, co-founder and senior vice president of Patina Solutions Group, Brookfield; Dawn Tabat, executive vice president of community and external relations at Generac; Suzanne Kelley, president of the Waukesha County Business Alliance; and Clement Fang, senior vice president of marketing at Generac.

“The Product Launch Competition is an authentic assignment that creates an engaging learning experience for students,” teacher Stephanie Gilmore said. “With the support of mentors from various professional backgrounds, students cover a variety of content areas with an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned by pitching their product concept and business plan to executives from local businesses and organizations.”

The product launch competition aims to prepare high school juniors and seniors for continued education, meaningful careers and productive lives.