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Arlington Chamber Holds ‘Shark Tank’ for Students

(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Some of Arlington’s most ambitious teenagers will go before a panel of judges, “Shark Tank”-style, to present business ideas they have cultivated for weeks.

The event is called the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel, is May 7 at Marymount University’s Reinsch Library (2807 N. Glebe Road), from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. It’s hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which has taken a dozen students from ages 12 to 18 from Arlington schools and taught them the fundamentals of starting a business, every Wednesday evening since Jan. 7.

“It’s important for them to see how the process of starting a business works,” Chamber Communications Manager Meredith Smith said. Each business group will go through the process of applying for business licenses. “It’s been really good seeing these kids develop their businesses.”

The 12 students have split into seven different businesses, and each startup will have six minutes to present to a panel of eight members of the Arlington business community, including from Vornado, Graham Holdings Company and the Ballston BID. Those judges will ask questions, debate and “invest,” just like on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank.”

Among the businesses the kids have come up with are custom-denim shorts, mobile apps and an e-commerce marketplace for “local streetwear/lifestyle brands,” according to the Chamber. They have been instructed by Charlie Sibbald, an entrepreneur and adjunct business professory at MU.

“[The academy] helps the Chamber build the next generation of business leaders by introducing young people early to entrepreneurship and its rewards and challenges,” Chamber President and CEO Kate Roche said in an email. “The program also provides a significant number of meaningful ways for our members to engage with the students. Business leaders are instrumental to the curriculum and the program, serving as mentors, guest speakers, graphic designers, and business plan reviewers.”

Tickets for the event are $10, and it is open to the public. The winning team will be entered into a national scholarship competition and could present its idea to the Americas Small Business Summit in D.C. this June.

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