Business ideas

Riverhead students pitch business ideas on ‘Chamber Tank’

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce and Riverhead High School are teaming up to produce ‘Chamber Tank’, a spin on the popular TV show ‘Shark Tank’.

Students can present business proposals to business owners in the room, some of whom are former students of Riverhead High School.

Students have a chance to win cash prizes of $500 and possibly more, according to Bob Kern, president of the Riverhead Chamber who will also serve as a coach.

The competition is virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s like ‘Shark Tank’ for students,” Mr Kern said. “Entrepreneurs pitch to successful people to try to get them to invest.”

Board member Dean Del Prete first suggested the idea during a chamber meeting. He is a founding member of Cousins ​​Paintball as well as the owner of Long Island Sports Park, both located in Calverton.

“I blurted out at a meeting that we should do something like ‘Shark Tank’ and everyone said it was a good idea,” Mr Del Prete said in an interview. He later put the idea in writing and sent it to Mr. Kern and executive director of the chamber Liz O’Shaughnessy and school officials.

Mr. Del Prete was the first member of the chamber to appear before the children on March 10.

“It was awesome,” he said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. It was not so much about proposals as about mentoring and coaching students.

Diana LaSpina, a high school business teacher, said the students and school community are “tremendously grateful” for the opportunity to work alongside the chamber.

“We are excited to have weekly coaching sessions with local business leaders,” she said. “This is a great partnership and we look forward to building a great relationship with the Chamber of Commerce.”

Mr Del Prete said he never went to college and never had a job where he worked for anyone other than family members.

“I had my own business at 18,” he said.

Glenn Vickers, owner of MRV Group, LLC in Riverhead, coached the students on March 17.

“It was awesome,” he said.

Students asked questions about how to take a concept or idea and turn it into reality, he said.

“They had questions about capital or understanding the market,” he said. “It’s great to have an idea, but do you understand your market or is there a market for your product? »

Students meet their coach every week on Wednesday.

“Students can form their own groups or come up with an invention, or they can help with a business plan and start a business,” Kern said. “We get businesses engaged with the school. It really is a fun program.

Besides Mr. Del Prete and Mr. Vickers, other members of the Chamber who will coach the students are Tommy McFeely of Hot Yoga in Carle Place and Merrick, who is also a commercial agent at Panache Real Estate; Frederick Wilkinson, owner of Eco Clean Pressure Washing and Spray Foam Insulations in Riverhead; Diont’e Brown, owner of She’s Pretty Rare Boutique, as well as photographer and web designer; Joanna Messina, public relations and marketing manager for Hampton Coffee Company; and Mr. Kern, owner of 2X2, LLC, a marketing and branding consulting firm. He is a member of the Industrial Development Agency and the Agricultural Advisory Committee of Riverhead Town, and he is a candidate for city council in the fall.

Mr. Wilkinson, Ms. Brown and Ms. Messina are all graduates of Riverhead High School.

Coaching sessions will all be done virtually and project presentations will be done via livestream on April 27. An awards ceremony will be held May 11 at the Residence Inn on Route 58, according to Ms. O’Shaughnessy.

The competition is sponsored by M&T Bank; Riverhead construction supply; East Divorce Planning; KL Wealth Strategies, LLC, Mr. Wilkinson and the Residence Inn LI East End, Ms. O’Shaughnessy said.