Shark Attack at Saint Mary's College of California

On Thursday, May 3rd, the Saint Mary’s College School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA) held its very own “shark tank” on campus. Nine MBA students and alumni with entrepreneurial inspirations were selected to present their business idea to a panel of experienced investors from the Keiretsu Forum, the world’s largest angel investor network. The event was held on the Saint Mary’s College campus in Moraga on a cool misty evening. Excitement was in the air as the audience anticipated what is the first (of many more to come) of Saint Mary’s business idea event.

Professor Berna Aksu, who spearheaded this event, welcomed the 80+ attendees and explained the rules: “All presenters have exactly four minutes to pitch your business idea; you will get four minutes of Q&A; and you will receive four minutes of feedback from the judges.” The panelists consisted of the following esteemed investors: Brad Winegar, Managing Director with Pacific Private Capital (PPC); Eric Clarke, Partner HansonBridgett and a Technology and Licensing Committee Member at the Keiretsu Forum with a JD from the University of the Pacific and a BA from Saint Mary’s College; Shirley Gee, a retiree of the Executive University Officer and Department Head at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, an active investor with Keiretsu Forum and strategic consultant to start-ups in life science, technology, and service sectors, and she has her BA in Business Management and MBA from Saint Mary’s College; and Paul Weiss is a successful entrepreneur who has raised more than $3 billion from individual investors, institutional investors, and commercial banks primarily with respect to his equipment leasing businesses going back to 1988. The Master of Ceremonies was the President and Founder of the Keiretsu Forum and Saint Mary’s alumnus, Randy Williams. Williams, a dynamic MC, made sure to emphasize in the beginning of the event, “This is a gracious shark tank. We are here only to help.”

The business ideas that were pitched ranged in industries, from healthcare to wine to consumer safety to online learning to serving the bottom-of-the-pyramid. The winner of the evening was Molly O’Kane, founder of JiTBaby, a service bringing families together to exchange merchandise for life’s little changes, de-cluttering their living space, and supporting community causes and local schools. Molly wins the coveted opportunity to present at “Jump Start Day”, a Keiretsu Forum for early startups. Runner-ups included Tamara Kaccem who presented TurboShip, an innovative solution for shipping for businesses in online marketplaces, and John McGuire who presented LearningPoint, an interactive social network learning application for professionals seeking industry specific continuing education.

Overall, the presenters and the audience learned a lot from the feedback given by the judges: “State the problem, explain your solution, be clear about your revenue model, and be sure to make the ask (for what capital or resources you need).” The “gracious shark tank” will be continued in 2013. Click here for the photos of the evening. The event was also video-recorded by LaMorinda Patch.

Click here to hear KGO Radio's interview with the winner, Molly O'Kane.


About Keiretsu Forum
Keiretsu Forum is the world’s largest angel investor network with 850 accredited investor members throughout twenty one chapters on three continents. Since Keiretsu Forum’s founding in 2000, its members have invested over $260m in companies in technology, consumer products, healthcare/life sciences, real estate and other segments with high growth potential. Forum members collaborate in the due diligence, but make individual investment decisions, with rounds in the range of $250k-$2m. Keiretsu Forum's community is strengthened through education on angel investing, as well as charitable giving. Forum members have donated over $1m to over 100 non-profit organizations.

About Saint Mary's College Graduate Business
Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s College of California is a cornerstone institution of the San Francisco bay area.  After nearly 150 years, with a network of more than 40,000 alumni worldwide, Saint Mary’s tradition of educational excellence is stronger than ever. Saint Mary's Graduate Business Programs are grounded in this same rich history and tradition of excellence.  With a focus on global perspective and responsible business, all of our five distinct graduate business degree programs are designed for working professionals who seek the knowledge and skills needed to accelerate their careers.  Small class sizes facilitate collaboration, accessibility, and engaging discussions with our distinguished faculty, and an interactive learning environment focused on practical business knowledge, serves to provide our students with the maximum return on their investment.