published on May 25, 2018 - 11:55 AM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

Students from the Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship in Fresno made their presentations at a Shark Tank-style pitch last Thursday, resulting in $10,000 being split between three businesses.

The juniors at Patiño have been working on their businesses since the beginning of the school year. Earlier last week, 18 student teams pitched their ideas at the school, resulting in five finalists being chosen for the investment pitch at Bitwise South Stadium.

According to school Principal Blair Sagardia, the finalists were picked based on a rubric and judged on such elements as innovation and presentation. The judges that whittled down the 18 businesses came from various entrepreneurial, community and academic backgrounds in the Central Valley.

During the pitch, the students had ten minutes to present their business models followed by a Q&A session by the judges. Greg Goforth, director of development for Shift3 Technologies and Nishan Majarian, CEO and co-founder of Agrian, Inc., served as the investors. Both had $5,000 to invest in the students as they saw fit.

“These kids haven’t really launched their companies yet, they’re still working on their MVPs — their minimum viable products,” Sagardia said. “This is just money to move that forward to see if they had something viable they can launch next year.”

In the end, Cultacks, a multicultural snack package company that provides fact sheets on the products, received the largest investment of the night at $5,000 — half the total amount invested.

“It’s a new, creative idea and they bring a lot of uniqueness to a new concept,” Majarian said. “So it’s just a great idea.”

“We’re all very diverse with different cultures and we all like to try new things, so why make that a business?” Gabby Villa, CEO for Cultacks said of the venture. “

Another $4,000 was invested in Stutorz, a peer-tutoring service. The remaining $1,000 went to Helping You, a job search website geared at teenagers.

The Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship is a Fresno Unified school that opened in 2015. By graduation, students are expected to have developed, pitched and started their own business.

They will be graduating their first class in June and are adding freshman classes to the curriculum this Fall.

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