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Shark Tank Competition

Rules and Guidelines

Hosted by the TMCC Business and Entrepreneurship Club, the Shark Tank Competition aims to bring exciting and innovative business ideas out of the woodwork. Existing business plan competitions can be daunting: their requirements for detailed plans and executive strategies can discourage participants and may be preventing some bright students from bringing good ideas forward. With that in mind, the Shark Tank does not require a complete business plan, financial statements, or any supporting documents. It is literally "pure pitch", with nothing but the value of the idea and the speaker's presenting skill to support it.

The Shark Tank takes place in two rounds. The first round, qualifying round, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the TMCC Dandini Campus, RDMT 256. The final round will be Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in RDMT 256.

Students must register online to participate in the first qualifying round.


  • First Prize: $500
  • Second Prize: $250
  • Third Prize: $125

Round 1: Qualifying Round Rules

  • Qualifying round pitches have a strict time limit of 3 minutes, after which a timer will notify the speaker that his or her time is up. Nothing said after time is called will be considered.
  • No visual aids are allowed (this includes PowerPoint presentations, etc.)
  • No question/answer session will follow the pitch.
  • Qualifying Round pitches will be judged on three criteria: innovative idea, proof of a market, and demonstration of competitive advantage.
  • After the end of the Qualifying Round, judges will choose 6 finalists.

Advising Rules

  • All six finalists have the opportunity to meet with a Shark Tank advisor before the final round if requested.
  • The advisor will provide advice on marketing, competitive advantage, strategy, and any other information useful in crafting the business and the final pitch.
  • Advisor: Nancy O’Neal ( or 775-829-9023).

Round 2: Final Round Rules

  • Final round pitches have a strict time limit of 5 minutes, after which a timer will notify the speaker that his or her time is up. Nothing said after time is called will be considered.
  • Visual aids are allowed in the final round.
  • Each pitch will be followed by a five-minute question-answer session with the three judges, who are free to ask for any clarification or justification they need.
  • Final round pitches will be judged on five criteria: innovative idea, proof of a market, demonstration of competitive advantage, response to questions, and improvement since the preliminary pitch.

Judging Guidelines

Both the qualifying and final pitches are judged on three criteria:

  1. Innovative Idea: Because Shark Tank focuses on drawing out new business ideas, the core idea itself is of elevated importance. In this category, a completely new idea with compelling potential will do well, even if the proposed details of its execution seem doubtful.
  2. Proof of a Market: Even the best products or services fail as businesses if nobody, in particular, wants to buy them. Therefore, each pitch should identify a profitable group of people with a unique need that the business would address.
  3. Demonstration of Competitive Advantage: Once the market is identified, if it is truly viable, it will probably already have businesses competing directly or indirectly for it. Each pitch should acknowledge these competitors and explain what would set its own company apart. If there are no competitors, the pitch should explain why the market is empty and how they can viably enter it.

The final round (round 2) has two extra criteria:

  1. Response to Questions: Each final pitch will be followed by a five-minute question-answer session. The finalists' ability to respond to the judges' questions will be considered here, as will the soundness of the pitches under scrutiny.
  2. Improvement: The same judges will be present at both the qualifying pitch and the final round, so they will have a chance to see how well the pitch develops both over time and with the added room for detail. 


For further clarification on any of these rules, please contact us.

Shark Tank Registration

To register for this event, please fill out and submit the form below. You will be contacted at the email listed to confirm your participation in the event.

Fill out my online form.