TAMID Tank 2017
One of the most watched TV show in America in 2016 was Shark Tank. Shark tank is not an action-packed drama or a tear jerking romance, rather it is a reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their products and companies to five investors or “sharks” who listen to the pitch, analyze the team, and make an investment decision. Shark Tank has gained such rapid popularity because of how relatable it is to viewers watching. Contestants on the show are just like the viewers watching: moms and dads, and hardworking small business owners who are sometimes living paycheck to paycheck trying to meet ends meet.
The second annual TAMID Tank event occurred recently in Barnard. TAMID Tank starts with finding student-run startups on campuses across the country. 103 companies applied to be part of the “Shark Tank” style competition this year, and after several rounds of vetting, there were only three companies left. TAMID members and non-TAMID members from universities around New York came out to listen to the presenters while the TAMID community hand-picked three investors to listen to the presentations and give feedback to each company. Two of the presenters were venture capital partners, while one investor was a private investor who owns a large company and does angel investing on the side.
The first company to present at the program was called Averia. Their goal is to develop a unique app that has a concussion test attached to a pair of glasses (think virtual reality) that could be used at the time of a collision to test for concussion. Currently 80% of athletic concussions go undetected because the only test to give athletes is an eye test which is obviously flawed. Although the company was very compelling and had an enormous potential they did not end up getting an investment because their revenue model was confusing and the device they were using as an attachment was not appealing to the investors.
The second company to present was called Vescence, which was a spray on for solar panels to make sure that they do not accumulate dust and dirt which can reduce efficiency by as much as 40%. The technology was developed by a professor at the student’s university (the University of Houston) but these students were given exclusive rights to sell the product. The company did not end up getting an investment because the investors were concerned with the revenue model of the company. They were attempting to partner with massive solar farms as opposed to going to private residents who have solar panels and selling to them. One investor said “you guys are going for the giants before touching the ants. Yes, it takes many ants to become a giant, but you need to start somewhere.”
The last company to present was called Pyle. Pyle is a software that helps students pay off their loans by creating a schedule for payments and investing some extra cash in the stock market to help repay loans quickly. The student loan industry has now overtaken all other kinds of debt as the leading defaulting loan and the idea came from there. There must be a way to help students who are not financially literate pay off their loans in a timely manner! The idea was phenomenal but the execution was not there yet. The company was in its earliest stages and still had not perfected its stock picking algorithm and payment methods. One investor said, “I would love to see you guys back here in six months with all of the developments you have made but you are just too early in the process for an investment.” Unfortunately for those in attendance at the event, an inside source told this writer that a company with $1.3 million in revenue last year was scheduled to present as well but had to drop out at the last second. It would have been fascinating for the audience to see how the investors would have interacted with a more mature company doing over a million dollars of revenue.
Although none of the students received investments from the investors, students, parents and alumni loved the event. YU student Joshua Morrow said, “listening to my peers’ passions and accomplishments at such a young age was inspiring and a joy to be a part of.” Baruch Sophomore Daniel Jonas said that his TAMID chapter made the event mandatory but it was “the best decision they made all semester.” There is something inspiring listening to ambitious friends and peers pursue their passions and visions. The appeal to TAMID Tank is similar to that of Shark Tank: the audience full of entrepreneurs felt empathy and a direct connection with the presenters and could see themselves one day being on the big stage pitching their company to a group of investors. It’s the moms, dads, and students that are pursuing their dreams that inspire their peers to take risks and strive for nothing less than greatness. TAMID Tank 2017 was educational, inspiring, and a huge success even though no investments were made.