By Caroline Brooks
Pitching your best idea to two moguls whose combined net worth tops $150 million has a “sink or swim” feeling to it – especially going into the pitch knowing that those two moguls have achieved stardom by sinking countless other great ideas in their hit TV show, “Shark Tank.” Broad College of Business students Jarett Lazare (BA Marketing ’17) and Danny Meltser (BA Finance ’17) faced this challenge and not only proved they could swim, but also won a $10,000 prize for their app and service, Bringitt.
“Swim with the Sharks,” a contest held during the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) OneShow event, allowed students to showcase their most creative, innovative business platforms to “Shark Tank” celebrity entrepreneur judges Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec. The NAMA OneShow, an annual trade show for the food and refreshment vending, coffee service, and foodservice management industries, gathered members for two days of education, networking, and experiencing technologies in its massive 300-booth filled exhibit hall in Chicago’s McCormick Place.
Weeks before the NAMA OneShow, Lazare and Meltser presented Bringitt to NAMA leadership for consideration to Swim with the Sharks. After securing a formal invitation, the pair had time to prepare a formal pitch presentation for the Sharks and the NAMA audience. “Swim with the Sharks is exactly the kind of opportunity we want to see our students reach for and prepared to tackle. We couldn’t be prouder,” said Paul Jacques, director of student and community engagement for Spartan Innovations.
According to Kristin St. Marie, assistant director of Executive Development Programs at the Eli Broad College of Business, the Sharks were just one layer of pressure. “Jarett and Danny only had five minutes of stage time, so they needed to deliver. Not only were the Sharks impressed, but the contest was at the opening ceremony, attended by thousands, who you could tell felt the same way.”
Targeting families with college students, Bringitt provides a peer-to-peer shipping network accessed through a mobile app that connects users to transport items between campus and home. Whether needing something taken to or from home or making a trip and looking to make extra money, Bringitt offers users in-app payments, messaging, real-time tracking and insurance. “I was going home every other weekend to visit my family – now I get paid to do it, while helping other students,” said Lazare.
After captivating the Shark Tank judges and thousands of NAMA attendees, and with an extra $10,000 in their pockets, Lazare and Meltser aren’t planning on slowing down for summer vacation.
“We’ll use the next few months making a few app updates to prepare for the upcoming fall semester. Since our business is cyclical, following the academic school year, we’ll spend time preparing for when students return—and executing our biggest marketing campaign to date. Our NAMA OneShow winnings will make a massive impact in both being able to afford the updates and pay for our marketing campaign, allowing us to bring our product to market and gain traction,” said Lazare.