Pitch NJ – a “Shark Tank” for Teens

Ari Soroken, Jim Venezia, John Carini and Marc Baskin at FDU’s Madison campus

As sharks go, ours were more admiring than predatory.

Morris Tech Meetup, MCEDC and high-school-student-run Business Bootcamp hosted a pitch competition for aspiring entrepreneurs …. in their teen years.

Start-up culture fits perfectly with Morris County’s youth culture – the excitement of presenting a creative idea with the courage to risk failure.  The pitch roster was whittled down to ten (10) teams of 2 – 4 students.

The Keynote Address

Ari Sorken, former CFO of Bai Brands, was both personable and generous with his time.  As a keynote speaker, he was informal and revealing about his company’s approach.  Bai decided they were aiming for the Conscious Authentic.  This was not an existing market segment.  Bai invented a market segment along with their brand.

Ari Soroken has been able to grow his hair now that he’s a Princeton millionaire.

Ari taught that successful companies are bought, not sold.  A company should never be for sale.

Bai formed a strong culture; one that snubbed its’ nose at the big soda companies.  Yet they were still was able to get distribution and to sell the company (to Dr. Pepper) for a record sum.


The competition

The competition format allowed 5 min to explain invention, the market size, the problem solved, and market differentiation.  Then 5 min for questions and feedback from the judges.

All contestants were confident, practiced and prepared.  Many entries had an emotional pull.  The biggest mistake made was being too technical – a common problem for inventors.

The big winner

Won $1000, the big check and a trophy.  Also, consulting services regarding their future in business.   Their time with Macrosoft’s executive leadership is a prize to be coveted.

Next year, MCECC will aim to get more sponsors so that 2nd and 3rd place winners can go home with a financial prize.