(Alexandria, MN) The 3rd annual Geneva Capital Shark Tank competition took place Sunday afternoon at the AAHS Performing Arts Center.  

Several teams of Business CAPS students made their presentations on stage in front of the Shark Tank judges.  The oral presentations were only part of the competition.  The students also submitted a written presentation earlier last week for the judges to review.

Finishing in the top three and also winning scholarship money from Geneva Capital were:

1. $4,000 each was awarded to Anna Zwilling and Ethan Patience for their presentation for the Cardinal Athletic Foundation.

2. $2,000 scholarships were given to Meg Shercliffe, Reece Stallman, and Graham Peterson for their presentation on Alomere Health.

3. $1,000 each was awarded to Ciara O'Connor, Cora Boesl, and Kaylee Meyer for their Aagard marketing plan.

AAHS Business CAPS instructor Eric Hartmann says that this upcoming spring, Geneva Capital will be providing two $1,500 academic scholarships in honor of former JHS business teacher, Elsworth Holm. Hartmann said prior to Sunday night, "We are so glad to have Elsworth here with us and he will be announcing the winners."  When Geneva Capital won the prestigious Community BIAD Award last fall, Mark once again doubled down on Business CAPS students and they are now offering a total of $21,000 in academic scholarships. Hartmann thanked Mark Watkins, Mike Tripp, and all the employees at Geneva Capital. His praise extended to everyone from their marketing team, mentors and judging panel.  With this event, he said "we often talk about monetary donations but the scope of their generosity extends far beyond that.  The time devoted to helping the CAPS students by mentors, the number of meetings organized by Mark and Mike, and the overall commitment of the organization with the sole purpose of helping students, is truly remarkable."

Hartmann says every year he meets with Mark and Mike "post shark tank" to discuss ways to improve the event and the entire DECA chapter.  This past year, he says they have been busy working to create the AAHS DECA Booster Club and Endowment Fund.  The Alexandria DECA chapter has seen their costs climb drastically based on increased student participation and advancement to State and Internationals.  The school district has been extremely supportive but there are limits to funding and legal restrictions for how funds are used. For example, they continually run into issues with sponsoring charity events and initiatives.   At the same time, the student participation fee has doubled over the past two years from $75 per student - $150 per student.   When Hartmann first mentioned the idea of an endowment fund to Mark, "I set my number at what I thought was aggressive at $20,000.  Mark quickly stated that Geneva Capital would give that amount right now, and we needed to think bigger. He then told me that we were going to build something that would outlast us all.  And then set the current goal of $250,000." 

Endowment funds, as those at many large universities, use the interest from these funds to pay their expenses.  For perspective, in 2018, Harvard's endowment was worth $39.2 billion, and the school used $1.8 billion from the fund to cover the University's costs.  Using a conservative number of 5% returns, Hartmann says they could potentially have $12,500 to help grow the chapter and have a more positive impact on the community.  He adds that "the beautiful thing about endowment funds is that money would continue to build each and every year."

From the stage Hartmann recognized school board members, superintendent Julie Critz, assistant superintendent Rick Sansted, High school principal Chad Duwenhoegger and Academy Coach Claire Anderson.  He says that "four and a half years ago, Rick and Chad took a van full of teachers to Kansas City to view their CAPS program. That trip has set the tone for our Business CAPS class and our emphasis on community partnerships and authentic learning."   He also thanked the students themselves, saying, "This year, you have set a new standard for all future classes.  Many of our groups have basically set up a part-time job with their business, spent many late nights writing your papers to meet the midnight deadline, and practiced countless times for the presentations we will see shortly. " 

The Alexandria DECA club has more than 130 members currently.  Many of the students will be participating in the coming weeks in regional, state and hopefully, International competitions.