The Montana Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) hosted 13 competing Montana companies in its third annual “Shark Tank” style competition at the Invest in Success (IIS) small business conference in Havre.
On March 15, a preliminary round judged by SBDC regional directors and Andy Shirtliff of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development was held to narrow the pool to five companies. Companies that competed on March 15 were: Hofeldt Premium Meats; Water4u; Anchor Yanker; the Hi-Line Climbing Center; My Sister’s Lip Balm; Shellter; Tacticality Workwear; RU-Fit Helena; Echo and Isaac Films, LLC; Rocky Beats; Big Sky Innovations; Hay Bunk, LLC; and the Emperor of Food, Inc.
After the judges narrowed the pool to five final contestants on the first day, stakes were high for the participants to win $5,000 to start the business of their dreams on day two. Judges on March 16 included Bob Nystuen, Market President of Glacier Bank; Max Vogel, Assistant Vice President of US Bank; Shauna Albrecht, Credit Analyst of Independence Bank; and Michael C. Finnerty, SBDC State Director.
In the end, Anchor Yanker, a start-up business based on a device that pulls or “yanks” rope more efficiently, took first place and won $5,000. The second place prize of $2,500 was won by Big Sky Innovations. The company created a camera that mounts onto hunting equipment. Third place was Shellter, a baby carrier that zips into jackets. Shellter won $1,000. Honorable mentions of the competition belong to Hay Bunk, LLC, a versatile and portable hay feeder, and My Sister's Lip Balm, a sparkly, eco-friendly, young girl’s lip balm.
Thank you to all who competed and attended Invest in Success to watch the event live. Read about Shark Tank in the press here and here. View pictures of the Shark Tank event on Montana SBDC’s Facebook page.