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Shark Tank Meets Wright State With Annual Wright Venture Competition

Wright Venture information session

Wright Venture Information Session | Photo by Brett Hull | The Wright State Guardian

Shark Tank meets Wright State University (WSU) in the upcoming Wright Venture competition, where aspiring WSU entrepreneurs give business presentations to a panel of industry experts.

What is Wright Venture

Modeled after Shark Tank, Wright Venture offers students the opportunity to compete for a $5,000 investment in their start-up. 

Competitors will learn to prepare for pitch decks, write business plans and plan out their business. They will learn how to find financing and product marketing.

Students compete in teams and single-member teams can compete. Teams will be paired with a mentor from the local business community and WSU faculty or staff. 

“There’s a lot of different kinds of people, a lot of different kinds of mentors. So it’s just kind of depending on what you’re seeking, and we get paired with the right mentor,” said Natasha Sandella, former Wright Venture entrant and President of Entrepreneurship Club. 

With their mentor’s help, students prepare their presentations to present in late March/early April 2022 to the judges, or “wolves.”

Interested students can apply online by filling out a form and including an introductory video. They can also reach out to Dr. Goodrich, chair of the marketing department, or Sandella. 

What students gain 

Sandella and Thomas Traynor, the Dean of the Raj Soin College of Business, encourage students to join Wright Venture if they have a business idea.

A background in business is not required as students will receive guidance from mentors and attend workshops on business planning, marketing, finance and operations.

“Going into it I had zero experience on giving a pitch deck or any sort of business presentation, but they really do push you to do that if you have a great business idea. So you know, anybody can do it. You don’t have to have a business background,” Sandella said.

Apart from workshops, Wright Venture offers networking opportunities, idea development, product design, service creation and more. It also lets students present any type of business idea, from apps to products and services. 

“To me in a way what stands out is the great variety of products and services we’ve seen entered. We’ve seen skateboards and we had one person who had designed an inexpensive 3d printer,” Traynor said.

Other businesses include a laundry service, a software company and an inexpensive water cleaning product. Along with product variety, students come from different majors and backgrounds. 

“I think it’s been very interesting how well the whole program has attracted students across the university. We had entrants from the College of Engineering, College of Education, College of Business. I think that’s an important feature of this. It’s not just for business [students],” Goodrich said.

Many contestants continued operating their businesses, whether as a side business or full time. 

Wright Venture has been held every year since its founding in 2014, and many are looking forward to this year’s presentations. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing the product and service ideas. They’re always new and interesting. And I really love the creativity that students bring into that,” Goodrich said.