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Students battle for investors during mock ‘Shark Tank’-style event

Carson-Newman University senior business students, from left to right, Robert Smith, Ryan Victory, Gregory Valentine, Austin Conner and Cameron Bloebaum present mock investment proposals to a team of area business leaders during Wednesday’s Venture Capital Fair. Business leaders, from left to right, include: Marc Stinnett, of Stinnett Automotive Group; Jay Moser, of Tennessee Valley Resources; Jessee White, of Edward Jones; Eric Allen, of the Tennessee Valley Authority; and Scott Faulkenberry, of Carson-Newman.

Click to see WVLT-8’s coverage of the event.

(April 3, 2019) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Even without blood in the water, the intensity of facing real “sharks” — area business leaders who are experts in their fields — had soon-to-be business graduates at Carson-Newman University feeling the pressure during Wednesday’s Venture Capital Fair.

The event, held in the McLean Investment Center on C-N’s campus, was reminiscent of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” in which entrepreneurs seek funding from notable business people.

Teams of nearly 50 C-N seniors pitched their best business model ideas for startup computer companies to area business leaders such as Tennessee Valley Resources CEO Jay Moser, Stinnett Automotive Group CEO Marc Stinnett and Tennessee Valley Authority Financial Analyst Eric Allen.

The undergraduate business majors fought to convince these venture capitalists to give a $5 million investment to launch their mock startups.

While five teams sought a total of $25 million, investors only had $21 million to dole out.

“In order to survive and do well, the students must learn to absorb and assimilate vast quantities of data and then synthesize it into useful information,” explained Phillip Bailey, assistant professor of Business. “It’s this personal interaction between these business leaders and our students that I think is an essential element of their professional development, because it gets them over the fear of talking in a truly professional setting.

While the game may not have been real, the benefits were tangible. Students learned to dress the part, prepared resumes and adopted their business personas.

And sometimes, they walk away with a very real job offer.

“I fully anticipate (the business leaders) hiring several of our students from this event, or at least the opportunity to introduce themselves,” Bailey said, noting a history of students receiving job offers following the fair.

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts university located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The University has over 2,500 students and offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

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