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Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program

Shark Tank Food Presentations

April 17, 2015 




By: Aaron Cook & Marisela Flores-Hamm  

This week the Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program held its annual Shark Tank presentations, where each student was required to develop a food product. The challenge was to create a food product from ingredients grown in the Central Valley.

For our Shark Tank Presentations, we had the honor of having five qualified foodies as judges: Jennifer Barney, Craig Scharton, Portia White, Margot Karlin, and Nancy Ervin.

Jennifer Barney started a food company called Barney Butter, an all-natural no-stir almond butter she created at home in her kitchen. Barney Butter is now found in several retailers, including Whole Foods and Raleys. According to Inc. Magazine, Barney Butter sales grew to $8.7 million by 2013. Jennifer eventually sold her business to a private equity group and now helps Ruiz foods launch new products. Barney is also our newest mentor, mentoring Marisela Flores-Hamm, our Laval EMP coordinator on her food venture. 

Craig Scharton is the owner of Peeve's Public House & Market. His business is a popular downtown location for those seeking a farm to fork menu. If you can't have fun at Peeve's, then you can't have fun anywhere! 

The remainder of the judges, Margo Karlin, Portia White, and Nancy Ervin serve as mentors for EMP. The students were invited to bring their “A” game as the judging panel are serious foodies and appreciate innovative food products. 

There were many creative and tasty items like frozen tea popsicles, dried valley fruits and nuts, gluten free lemon almond cookies, beef heart jerky, sweet potato juice, a sweet avocado drink, and a wine sorbet. After a difficult deliberation, the judges announced the winner of the Laval EMP’s 1st Food Product Shark Tank Presentations. The winner is...Aubrey Lim, with her Beef Heart Jerky! 

We are all proud of Aubrey and the rest of the Laval EMP students as they worked hard on their products while demonstrating their entrepreneurial skills.

Prior to the Shark Tank presentations, Dr. Stearns introduced us to Dr. John Mueller, a candidate for a faculty job in entrepreneurship. Dr. Mueller gave a presentation on crowdfunding and explained how difficult it can be to have a successful campaign without the right strategy. The Laval EMP students were happy to have Dr. Mueller present to our class. We had the opportunity to ask him questions regarding crowdfunding as a new tool for entrepreneurs to raise funds. 

After all the students had presented, there was much relief while acknowledging how much was learned from the event. The students did a great job of showcasing the valley’s natural ingredients and gained much appreciation for what the valley has to offer. Laval EMP wants to thank the judges: Jennifer Barney, Craig Scharton, Portia White, Margot Karlin, and Nancy Ervin, for taking the time for this event. We all look forward for the next Laval EMP Shark Tank Presentations in the fall semester.