Is It Shark Tank Or Charity Tank?


Last fall I wrote a blog titled 23 Ways To Earn Money In College. Many colleges are now offering entrepreneurship degrees in addition to business management and business administration. Social entrepreneurship is a fast growing industry.


On Friday, ABC aired a Shark Tank episode where all the businesses were created by college students. It was a great episode with great ventures. I hope that these young people become household names. We may have even been introduced to the next billionaire.


The most memorable exchange of the night took place after the final deal was made. A young man, Christopher Gray, who earned over one million dollars in college scholarships partnered with web developers and launched Scholly Scholarship app to help other students fund their education. It was a brilliant and much needed idea.


Christopher completed his business pitch and before Robert and Mark could have all their questions answered Lori offered him exactly the amount of money and percentage of interest that he asked for. Daymond joined her in the offer. What happened next was unexpected. A “shark fight” that divided the group ensued and Robert, Mark, and Kevin stormed out.


Before their great exodus, Robert blurted out the line of the night, “this is shark tank not charity tank.” I was left with lots of questions after witnessing such a ridiculous explosion of anger.
-Why does passion for a project or belief in a person equate to charity?
-Was it all staged?
-Did things escalate because Lori is a woman?
-What it a race issue?
-Did Lori and Daymond take advantage of a naive college student?
-Can’t business be about more than money?
-Aren’t all investments risky?


I hope that this was not a publicity stunt. I want to believe that Shark Tank is above petty arguments to boost ratings. I was more disappointed that the “shark fight” overshadowed the brilliance of the app. Although Christopher received exactly what he asked for, I believe he may have received more money by answering more questions. I believe that the by giving Robert, Kevin, and Mark the answers they wanted would have resulted in more competition and a more beneficial and less dramatic shark fight would have taken place. I hope that episode wasn’t the beginning of the end of Shark Tank as we’ve known it.


For weekly viewers, Shark Tank is like a free online course where you learn about business pitches, business evaluation, and business negotiation. The show offers more than entertainment and I wish shark tan fans and budding entrepreneurs would have been able to learn more about how the app works on the back end. The conversation could have given another app developer the insight needed to go to the next level.


Thousands of dollars in scholarships are unclaimed every year while student loan debts increase. Despite the dramatics, many people promoted and purchased the scholarship app during and immediately after the episode aired. Lori and Daymond are successful entrepreneurs with the skills, experience, connections, and income to grow an app into a viable business. The real life and business lessons for Christopher will happen in his personal meetings with his new shark partners.


The bottom line is that this app will positively impact many lives – that is an important business principle for me.

Scholly tweet











Nicki Sanders is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.

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