CWU News

Students Face Sharks at CWU-Sponsored Business Competition

Central Washington University is tossing 200 high school students into the “Shark Tank” next week. Like contestants on the popular TV reality show, competitors from 12 schools will have to come up with innovative design and marketing strategies for a mystery project.

The day-long conference, November 12 at the Yakima Convention Center, is sponsored by the CWU Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I4IE). 

“Yakima-area business professionals and more than 40 CWU students will help competitors with their basic design, marketing, and business challenges,” said Bill Provaznik, I4IE director and management professor in the College of Business. “Our ‘sharks’ are a little friendlier than the ones on TV, but we think students will learn a lot from working directly with real business executives from the community.”

The Shark Tank reality show allows entrepreneurs to present their ideas to the business executives, or “sharks,” and to try to convince any one of them to invest money in their idea.

Students will produce and promote prototypes of a specific product, selected by organizers but not announced until the competition. Students from different schools will be formed into teams, involving both design and marketing crews.

The “sharks” they will face are entrepreneur and venture capitalist Steve Altmayer, the retired president and chief executive officer of Yakima’s Wrap Pack Corporation; David Danton, operations manager for Lexar Homes in Yakima; CWU College of Business marketing professor Terry Wilson; and Mina Worthington, president and chief executive officer of Yakima’s Solarity Credit Union. 

This is the second year of the “Many Faces of Entrepreneurship.” Last year more than 650 Yakima-area students crowded the Capital Theatre to participate in the entrepreneurship workshop. I4IE has sponsored innovation competitions for college students, including one that launched a new microbrewery in Kittitas, Washington.

But this is the first student-focused competition for high schools. Provaznik expects the contest will become an annual event, “and we will expand and build on it,” he added. 

The CWU entrepreneurship event is sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation and CWU, with additional support from Educational Service District 105.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

November 5, 2015