Four local and one international entrepreneur who are seeking investment to either start up their business, boost it to the next level or even bring it up from the ground participated in Belize’s first ever Shark Tank International hosted at the Caye Financial Center of Caye International Bank in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize on Friday, March 16, 2015.
Following the same concept of the popular American tv show ‘Shark Tank’, the competition gave the opportunity to five entrepreneurs to present their business plan to a panel of potential investors who were willing to give one of these business people the opportunity to further improve their product/service. They would award one candidate with the funding they needed to take their business to the next level.
Mr. Joel Nagel organized the Shark Tank International event in conjunction with Grand Baymen and Caye International Bank as part of the company’s Asset Protection and 17th Annual President’s Week Investment Conference. Five finalists were selected out of a group of 120 different entries. An initial group of judges read each of the 120 selections and discussed the viability of each proposal based on the data presented, strength of business plan, and its potential to benefit the community. The five aspiring businesses seeking funding included:
1) Marvillous Sauces - Started in 2014 to create the world's best and most unique "dipping sauces". These sauces are made from the best ingredients in Belize including blackberry, mango, pineapple, and cashew. The sauces are currently available only in Belize. The founder, Maria Villanueva, is looking for $100,000 to help her to expand her production and begin exporting into the US and other overseas markets. She is willing to offer 20% equity in her company and would like to attract investors who might also help her with exporting of her "marvillous" sauces.
Marvillous Sauces presents business plan and product at Shark Tank International
2) "Fruit-Full" is the trademarked name given by Jack Nightingale to his proprietary solar and organic dried fruit process. Jack's company, El Torque Moho, Ltd., uses locally grown Belize fruits and prepares them for export markets under the motto "nothing added but the Sun". The company is working to export to the US, Europe and the Middle East and they are offering 20% of their company for $250,000 needed for necessary expansion equipment.
3) Maya Secrets Natural Skin Care "Mud Soaps" uses all natural and organic products to make some of the world's finest skin care. The company's products are sold throughout Belize at upscale tourist spas and retail stores and have been trial tested at Neiman Marcus stores in the US. The company's founder, Alexandra Nicholson, won the title of "world trampoline champion" and she brings the same drive and determination to her business. She is currently seeking $125,000 for 20% of her business.
4) Hummingbird Hidden Valley Tilapia Farm is owned and operated by Alex Cruz. He is currently producing Tilapia in two large constructed ponds in northern Belize. He recently received a very large contract to supply Tilapia on an on-going basis to a Mexican importer, but needs working capital to build more ponds and acquire more stock. He is currently offering 15% of his company for $60,000.
Alex Cruz of Hummingbird Hidden Valley Tilapia Farm at Shark Tank International
5) "Tutor Score Card" is a proprietary software based SAT tutoring guide owned by "Study Kahuna, LLC" and developed by its owner, teacher/educator Phil McCaffrey. Phil has become the premier SAT tutor in the Sewickley, Pennsylvania area, an affluent suburb outside of Pittsburgh. His proprietary software based system which gives "real time" feedback to students preparing for their college entrance exams is now ready to be "franchised" by independent tutors across the United States as well as in expat communities throughout the world. Phil is seeking $300,000 for a 25% stake in his company.
The panel of investors included five self-made successful businessmen that included Jesus Mantas (Managing Partner and General Manager of IBM Global Business Services), James Rickards (Author, Strategist, Lawyer, Economist & Intelligence Advisor), Stender Sweeney (Advisor & Investor to several small and startup companies), Chris Allison (Professor, Entrepreneur, Leader, former CEO of Tollgrade Communications Inc.) and Joel M. Nagel (founder and managing partner of the international law firm of Nagel & Associates, LLC.)
The group of investors closely listened to each presenter’s business plan, looked over their assets, went over their future projections, finances, gave their recommendations and sampled those products available in order to make their decision on who would be the recipient of the funding requested. Two different grants were given out at the end of the program; both Marvellious Sauces and the Tilapia Farm each received $1,000 USD. As of now, there will be an opportunity for future businesses to enter the Shark Tank competition and gain product exposure, guidance, and the opportunity to interact with potential investors. This is the first year the Shark Tank concept was put into practice.
Panel of investors listen to Shark Tank International presenters