Feeding the Sharks

Feeding the Sharks
Feeding the Sharks

Upper School entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to real experts.

At Homecoming on October 14, 20 enterprising Upper Schoolers—some in small groups, others flying solo—brought their business chops to Sidwell Friends for a Shark Tank–style pitch session. And just as in the reality show, the sharks were real entrepreneurs and finance professionals—in this case all members of the Sidwell Friends community.

The teens pitched their products and services with slide decks, short films, and prepared remarks before an audience of more than 200 parents, faculty, staff, and fellow students. There was an app, Breadcrumbs, to help lost senior citizens find their way home; a pre-regulated digital currency, Standard & Rates, with stable rates; a networking app, Ciné, for creative types, like actors, directors, and artists to connect; a news site, Marketism, about sustainable investing practices; a financial literacy app, Urn, designed to address the wealth gap and expand markets among young people of color; and a peer-to-peer initiative, Refugee Support and Awareness, that creates interaction opportunities for refugees in the United States and American teens.

After each presentation, the sharks—Jason Carroll ’96, the managing partner and co-founder of Hudson River Trading, LLC; IntraFi Network Co-Founder and CEO Mark Jacobsen P ’24, ’27, Bluemercury Founder and former CEO Marla Beck P ’21, ’23, ’25, AltFinance CEO Marcus Shaw ’95, and IF Ventures Co-Founders Max and Sam Strickberger ’17—grilled the students on their plans. How would they reach their audience, how would they produce revenue, and what need were they addressing? Some sharks gave advice, some gave critiques, and some gave contact information for industry professionals who could help the students take the next steps. Ultimately, whether any of the ideas turns out to change the world or launch a billion-dollar company was beside the point; experience was the goal and, on that front, all of the students got all they could ask for.

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