This fall, the Oregon Executive MBA Alumni Board debuted Duck Tank, a startup pitching competition inspired by the popular television show Shark Tank. Nearly 100 alumni, current students, and guests came to the program's Portland facility to watch teams of recent graduates and current students present their new venture concepts to a judges’ panel made up of alumni entrepreneurs.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the program and its graduates. We wanted to create an event that would highlight this strength in a fun and meaningful way and bring together graduates from many different years,” said board president Jessica Kingrey, MBA ’15.
With the Oregon Executive MBA’s tiered classroom filled to capacity, the evening’s MC—former KPTV-TV nighttime news anchor Amy Troy—introduced the evening’s judges: Sandhi Bhide, MBA ’98; Mike Fritz, MBA ’02; and Jim Lockheed, MBA ’15. Each judge shared his entrepreneurial philosophy along with tips gleaned from his own startup journey.
Next, the entrepreneur contestants took the stage, describing their concepts and then fielding questions from the judges’ panel.
First up were Ross Taylor, MBA ’18, and Laura Taylor, his wife, the innovators behind Proud Label, a line of plant-based spreads made from natural ingredients.
Next came Kiernan White, MBA ’18, who described his startup Homebase. Designed specifically for active duty military people, the online service makes owning and renting homes easier and more practical for this population.
The final presentation came from James Dixon, MBA ’19, representing Cinco Technologies. Headed by Duane Casey, MBA ’19, the online service connects local fresh food suppliers with area restaurants and food carts. Mike Livermore, MBA ’19, also serves on the leadership team.
After the presentations, alumni and guests headed back to the lobby and flat classroom to connect with each other over snacks and drinks.
Board member Israel Angeles, MBA ’18, had the honor of announcing the evening’s winner: Proud Label, the startup from Ross Taylor, MBA ’18, and Laura Taylor.
“It was so inspiring to experience the mix of established entrepreneurs and up-and-comers at this high-energy event. Duck Tank was a true triumph for our alumni board,” said Oregon Executive MBA Director Rachel Todd.
Many thanks to the Oregon Executive MBA Alumni Board, Amy Troy, Sandhi Bhide, Mike Fritz, Jim Lockheed, all three of the competing teams, and everyone else who helped make this evening such a standout event.
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View Duck Tank Program