The Hawk Tank competition, which awards monetary prizes for the best business plans from Fort Lewis College students and recent alumni, will expand to add a high school division in 2019.
Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center provided funding to open the popular competition, based on the television show “Shark Tank,” to local high school students.
Hawk Tank High School will mirror the same business-plan pitch format as the original, but the awards will be scholarships to FLC instead of cash to help finance a startup.
“We’re awarding $47,000 in scholarships and cash awards,” said Michael Valdez, associate professor in the School of Business Administration, in a news release. “The institution is making a huge investment in this program because we’re committed to helping out our community and our high school students.”
Hawk Tank High School will be more than a daylong competition. Students will participate in workshops and mentorships. Also, they will have access to in-person support from faculty and business professionals and research resources at FLC.
FLC expects the competition to develop students’ entrepreneurial capabilities and spirit and spark their interest in FLC, which will launch an entrepreneurship major in fall 2019.
“There may be a lot of entrepreneurial high school students who have an idea, but they don’t know what to do with that. We would love if they got the bug and they wanted to explore that at Fort Lewis,” Valdez said.
In the 2018 Hawk Tank competition for FLC students, 46 different business plans were submitted and $5,000 was awarded for the best plan. In addition, student teams could earn $2,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place.
The School of Business Administration is working with Native American business leaders to develop and promote the competition in New Mexico, including at high schools in Aztec, Farmington, Bloomfield, Shiprock, Dulce and Newcomb.
Southwest Colorado high schools will also be invited.
Students must declare an intent to participate to the School of Business Administration by Feb. 11.
After entering the competition, teams of up to three students will have just over a month to craft their business pitches. They will work with mentors – either FLC alumni, faculty or members of the Beta Alpha Psi honor society – as well as attend in-person or virtual workshops to create a final plan for submission.
High school first-place team members will each receive $8,000 in scholarships and a $1,000 cash award to split. Second place will earn $4,000 in total scholarships and a $500 team cash award, and third place will win $2,000 in total scholarships and a $250 team cash award.