Have you ever watched the show “Shark Tank” and wondered how the five investors choose which idea to invest in and how much money to offer?
The Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF) is a non-profit organization that gives students the opportunity to act as “Sharks” through listening to pitches and making decisions on which startup company should receive funding.
The University of Akron is one of six universities that participate in this program, with the others being Kent State University, Notre Dame College, Walsh University, Case Western Reserve University and the College of Wooster.
Although this program has been at UA, it almost disappeared in 2019. However, senior Niki Hirani, a human resource management major, stepped up as president to revive the club.
Hirani began promoting the club and recruiting new members by going to different classes, which has resulted in an increase of 14 new student members.
“It was a long and scary process, but I think it is going to have a lot of potential moving on now,” Hirani said.
According to a NEOSVF flyer on campus, the organization’s mission is to create multiple opportunities for students and entrepreneurs to fund the future through educational and experiential learning.
This begins with the “Deal Flow Event,” where startup companies present their products, answer questions and explain why they should receive the $25,000. Each participating university is then assigned a company to evaluate on if they should receive the funding.
After NEOSVF Executive Director Daniel Hampu assigns a company to UA, students will spend several weeks interacting with the company for their evaluation. All the information gathered during the meetings leads to the “Board Meeting Presentation.”
Junior Ashlee Butryn, a data analytics major said the experience can be an eye opener as the process of evaluating and presenting about a company is a rush.
“Being in that room with all the other schools presenting is an exciting event,” Butryn said. “Being involved in the process is such a great experience.”
For students interested in getting involved, Hirani believes it is important to know that an organization such as this requires a lot of attention and work. However, a student does not need to be a business major or have business experience to join.
Weekly NEOSVF meetings are held Mondays at 5:30 p.m. in the Read Board Room on the second floor of the Anthony J. Alexander Professional Development Center.
For more information, students can find NEOSVF on RooConnect or email Hirani at [email protected].