In the tradition of the popular ABC reality competition program “Shark Tank,” nine
business ideas were presented to a panel of judges that included Chicago-area entrepreneur
and alumnus Todd Zoellick ’00.
International business major Dave Myers ’15 (Chesterfield, Mo.) modified his idea
from the previous year for Titan Green Clean and partnered with Boryana Borisova ’17
(Elgin, Ill.), who is spearheading efforts for an IWU chapter of the Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF). Their plan to produce and sell an eco-friendly laundry detergent won this
year’s competition and $1,500 to implement the idea. The plan’s philanthropic element
includes donating proceeds and product to nonprofits in the Bloomington-Normal area
and through STLF’s Pay It Forward Tour next year.
Administered through the Action Research Center (ARC), the Zoellick Fellowship was introduced in 2013 to allow students to devise
business plans that address a local, national or global community need or social problem.
Playing on the name of the popular “Shark Tank” program, ARC instituted the “ARC Tank”
format as a way for Zoellick Fellowship hopefuls to compete for the $1,500 funding.
Winners also receive assistance from ARC and the Department of Business Administration
in business plan development, marketing and legal or organizational processes to help
launch their idea.
Zoellick served as a judge for ARC Tank along with Dave Marvin, chair of the Department
of Business Administration at IWU; Erik Barnlund ’96, CEO of Mavidea Technology Group LLC; Travis Mack, owner
of Eagle Falls Lodge in Ontario, Canada; and Josh Wiggs ’15, the winner of last year’s
This year Zoellick decided to fund a second project presented by political science
major Austin Aldag ’16 (East Peoria, Ill.). Aldag’s idea for a Bike Coop will capitalize
on IWU’s existing Bike Share program, which allows students to check out bikes for
free to use for one day. The Bike Coop would offer bike repairs, longer-term bike
checkouts and bike storage over the winter months or academic break periods. The judges
believed existing infrastructure would allow Aldag to launch his idea for a smaller
amount -- $500 – which Zoellick decided to fund during the judges’ deliberation.
This year’s format encouraged students to present ideas -- ranging from a karaoke
lounge to an IWU-only crowdfunding site modeled on Kickstarter -- rather than formalized
business plans. Judges praised the students, however, on how thoroughly they had researched
their expected costs to do business, potential customers, competition and other aspects
Zoellick said the judges were impressed with Titan Green Clean’s detailed budget and
improvements on last year’s presentation.
“They took many of our recommendations from last year and made those changes to make
it a better product,” said Zoellick. “They also expanded it to include philanthropic
opportunities related to the student travel and leadership program (Pay It Forward
Tour), so we thought that was really important.
“Part of what impressed us was that last year they had a good idea that just needed
some work,” Zoellick added. “This year they came back with a much, much better idea.”