No, we’re not referring to the Sharknado movie where the ferocious fish manage to attack the space shuttle as it orbits around the earth. Nor is it a reference to the many studies done over the years about how the cycles of the moon affect shark attacks.
In Flagstaff, Sharks in Space is a business start-up pitch competition hosted by Moonshot, the rebrand of the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (NACET).
The inaugural contest promises to combine the excitement of the reality series Shark Tank with a showcase for ambitious and ground-breaking ideas, as entrepreneurs compete for more than $15,000 in cash, scholarships and the chance to bring their proposed products to the marketplace.
“Northern Arizona is a hotbed of innovation and experimentation,” said Scott Hathcock, president/CEO of Moonshot at NACET. “We are hoping to attract the dreamers, designers, scientists, engineers, technologists and other innovators who may have the next great idea.”
Entrepreneurs also will be vying for a chance to become an affiliate of NACET’s Moonshot program for a year, a scholarship valued at $3,000. The program is designed to take entrepreneurs and their ideas through a rigorous process resulting in a viable product or investment-ready concept by the program’s end.
Additional scholarships will be offered by event sponsors looking for startups that align with their business area of focus. For example, Northern Arizona University (NAU) plans to offer scholarship funding to a student entrepreneur; W.L. Gore & Associates will be looking for a medical product-related start-up to support; and The NARBHA Institute plans to award a prize to a start-up working in behavioral science.
Sharks in Space candidates must submit an online application at moonshotaz.com/sharksinspace and post a two-minute pitch video about their product or service on YouTube by Friday, Feb. 16. Applicants will need to explain their start-up idea, what they feel their unique selling proposition is, and why their product is better than what is already on the market.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, all applicants are invited to participate in an all-day series of workshops to refine their pitches at the Accelerator at NACET. They’ll also hear from keynote speaker Kiersten Hathcock, founder and CEO of Mod Mom Furniture, a company that was featured on Shark Tank season 2. Diana White, director of the Coconino County Small Business Development Center, and Jacob Dolence, NAU Director of Campus Programs, will also be on hand to offer advice, support and information to help guide and assist new enterprises.
Competition finalists will make five-minute pitches before a panel of business leaders on Sunday, Feb. 25, starting at 3 p.m. They will be judged on the strength of their live presentation, which needs to demonstrate they have an innovative product and understand how they need to position it in order to be a successful start-up.
“For the Moonshot scholarship, we’ll be choosing companies we believe we can help by providing at least one of what we call ‘the three Cs’ – capital, clients or connections,” said Hathcock.
The event, at Lowell Observatory, is free and open to the public and presented by the City of Flagstaff and Choose Flagstaff.
Title sponsors of the event are APS and Sunwest Bank. Supporting sponsors include Lowell Observatory, AWD Law, Kinney Construction Services and Nordstrom & Associates. Sponsorships of scholarships are NAU, W.L Gore & Associates and The NARBHA Institute. FBN
By Tommy O’Connor