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Mead Elementary students test business proposals at mock 'Shark Tank' lesson
By Karen Antonacci, Staff Writer, Times-Call
Budding entrepreneurs wrung their hands, went over their market research one more time, then made their business pitch to a panel of discerning financial sharks Thursday afternoon.
Then, they took a break for recess.
Natalie Wilson's fourth-grade class at Mead Elementary held a mock pitchathon styled after the popular ABC show "Shark Tank" in order to refine the students' research, finance and public-speaking skills. The class prepared an imaginary business idea, did market research and analyzed manufacturing costs and profit margins before they made their pitches to the panel of sharks.
The panel included Jack Bonneau, the 12-year-old founder and CEO of Jack's Stands & Marketplaces from Broomfield. Via Jack's Stands & Marketplaces, Bonneau operates his own lemonade stands, teaches other children the beverage business and gives them an opportunity to sell their own wares.
Bonneau was on "Shark Tank" in 2016, securing a $50,000 investment from Chris Sacca in exchange for 10 percent of his company.
Bonneau's father and employee Steve Bonneau also served on the panel of sharks, as well as farmer and business owner John Ellis, former teacher Linda Martyr and her husband, Richard Martyr, who is a former teacher and president of the St. Vrain Valley School District Board of Education.
Sam Macaluso, 10, kicked off the event with his pitch for custom-made fashion sleeves for prosthetic limbs.
Macaluso demonstrated his product on his own leg prosthetic, sliding up the stretchy purple fabric over his left leg.
"So you could match your prosthetic to your outfit, like the purple would be good for going to a Rockies game, because purple is the Rockies' color," said Macaluso, who was diagnosed with Ollier disease.
The disease caused the left side of his body to grow much slower than his right side. When the discrepancy made it difficult for him to walk, he had his left leg amputated and was fitted with a prosthetic limb, he said.
Jack Bonneau asked Macaluso about whether he could make sleeves for different sizes of prosthetics. Linda Martyr asked if Macaluso could offer the sleeves to double amputees.
"Yes, if there was a double amputee, that would be fine. And we could have a sale at Christmas where if you buy one, you can get another free ... they take me $15 to $20 to make and I would sell them for $45," Macaluso said before walking up to the panel to allow the sharks to feel the material.
Steve Bonneau offered Macaluso $10,000 in imaginary money for 30 percent in his imaginary business before Jack Bonneau undercut him with $10,000 for 20 percent. Macaluso accepted and the two shook hands.
Wilson said that the mock "Shark Tank" exercise helps her students in multiple areas.
"It definitely really hits that economic standard and our personal finance literacy standard," she said. "The kids are really able to go deep and it allows me to push them to research their product when they're facing a panel of sharks ... it's also excellent for their presentation and audience skills. It makes it all real life for them."
Mead Elementary School fourth-grader Sam Macaluso shows off a fashion sleeve covering his prosthetic leg to the judges in a mock "Shark Tank" competition in Mead on Thursday. The judges include Jack Bonneau, right, who was on a 2016 episode of the TV series "Shark Tank." (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)
Mead Elementary School fourth-grader Jackson Howard makes his pitch to the judges Thursday. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)