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The Buchtelite

Compete in local shark tank for $10,000

By Julian Curet, jcc125@zips.uakron.edu

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On Nov. 17, three local entrepreneurs will compete for up to $10,000 in business startup investments as part of FUEL, a new competition promoted to students by the EXL Center.

FUEL is a shark tank competition created by The Bit Factory, a local startup accelerator located on 526 South Main Street in Akron. Shark tank competitions like this involve entrepreneurs who pitch their startup business ideas to a group of potential investors.

Interested participants were expected to apply for the event and register their internet and mobile (apps) software startups by Oct. 14. Some applicants will be invited to the next step: a 15-minute interview where the interviewees will present their new business ideas to the Bit Factory team.

This process will narrow the field to three finalists. According to fuelakron.com, the three teams “will receive coaching and advice from The Bit Factory mentors” so they can be ready for presentations and “investment negotiations” at the Nov. 17 event.

This event is free and open to the public.

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. the “sharks” will be circling in The Bit Factory. Audience members have a chance to see the finalists showcase their new software products, watch the “sharks” negotiate the $10,000 investment, and eat some food as well. Those interested in attending can register for free tickets at fuelakron.com.

As new clients of The Bit Factory, the three teams receive the services that the company provides. The Bit Factory, which opened shop in 2015 with help from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, offers customized action plans and mentorship to local startups. It boasts a wide array of in-house and Akron-local mentors, advisors, and specialists available to budding entrepreneurs and software developers.

Students were encouraged to apply for this event by The University of Akron’s Experiential Learning Center for Entrepreneurship and Civic Engagement, or EXL.

The EXL Center was founded in 2015 to create hands-on experiential learning programs for all UA students. The second part of its goal is to have the campus integrate with the local community and enhance existing or create new partnerships. This mission, found at uakron.edu/exl/, will serve to “enable students to emerge as civically engaged, skilled and adaptable leaders, ready to take on real-world challenges.”

EXL has offered programs in experiential learning with Lakota teens on the Pine Ridge Reservation and other community partners.  Civic engagement programs have included an immersion with five different area high schools titled “What’s Your Problem” and also the FAIL SAFE Hackathon. EXL was one of 50 programs recognized by the White House in its National Week of Making.

For more information on The Bit Factory, visit thebitfactory.com. For students interested in the EXL enter, there are locations in the Bierce Library and the Student Union. Information can also be found at uakron.edu/exl/.

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