Recently, the Jones Graduate School Entrepreneur Organization (JGSEO) at Rice University held its second annual Owl Tank Competition. Inspired by the popular television show Shark Tank, Owl Tank offers competitors the valuable opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of successful Houston-area business leaders and venture capitalists who serve as judges.
This year, 11 teams, each with a “small idea that doesn’t require a patent or millions of dollars in funding,” competed for the top spots by distilling their idea into a six-minute pitch compelling enough to gain the judges’ interest and enthusiasm. After the pitch, the judges provided valuable feedback, often volleying pointed questions to team members about the viability, sustainability and originality of their plan.
The competition began rousingly, when Michael Tatz ’14, team member for Patriot Family Housing, began calling cadence and jogging military-style across the expanse of Anderson Family Commons. The following teams kept up the energy of the competition, which lasted nearly two hours.
Owl Tank’s Future
“I received a great deal of feedback on the quality of the presentations and pitches, as well as involvement of judges in terms of tougher questions,” says JGSEO President Gene Brieck ’10, when describing the success of this year’s event. “More teams applied, more teams presented, and we more than doubled the prize money in total and gained more sponsors in general.”
The JGSEO hopes to keep the momentum going for next year’s Owl Tank, slated for spring 2014
— M. Yvonne Taylor