Baby Shark Tank (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo)

COD student and mother, Ashley Spratt, strives to keep her children safe and healthy as any mom would. After trying a variety of different over-the-counter medications and supplements, Spratt took it upon herself to create a healthy alternative to generic medications. She looked to elderberries for the answer.  

Spratt looked to elderberries when she began to see products advertising their ability to relieve cold and flu symptoms along with strengthen the immune system. Unfortunately, she found the elderberry products to be too expensive for her and other parents in her neighborhood so she decided to create her own syrup and sell it. Her business pitch to a board of judges at the annual COD pitch contest won her $2,000 that she plans to put back into her business.

Sponsored by COD’s Innovation DuPage, E2 Emerging Entrepreneurs program and Entrepreneurship Club, the pitch contest occurred Nov. 14 as eight finalists were selected to showcase their business pitches. Business Professor and Entrepreneurship Club Adviser Peter James hosted the contest with hopes that the participants will get long-term benefits from the experience whether or not they’re pronounced the winner.

“It challenges participants to stretch themselves outside of their comfort zone and seize this moment in order to move one step closer to their dreams. This is the true definition of entrepreneurship,” James said.

Both COD students and students from area high schools were encouraged to participate in the event. Twenty-seven applicants applied for a finalist spot with only eight advancing to the final round. Scholarship winners included third place winner, Jared Galler with a password locked safe that duals as a display case, second place winners Jonathan Arnold and Jack Young with Ground Coffee Compost Soil and first place winner Ashley Spratt with Elderberry Syrup.

Naperville North High School seniors, Arnold and Young, were inspired for their business when working together on a school project that prompted them to create a product to improve the community. Their idea to use post-brewed coffee grounds mixed with compost to make an eco-friendly compost soil soon became a reality. The two found that coffee grounds are relatively rich in nitrogen that provides bacteria the energy needed to turn organic matter into compost. The two hope to further sales and sell their product at local farmers markets and hopefully someday see their product in ACE Hardware stores.

“We recently competed in another pitch contest last the spring and won $7,000 there; so now we have a lot to work with,” Arnold said. “Hopefully we can grow the business by finding larger areas to work and produce the compost.”

Third place winner Jared Galler pitched an idea and demonstrated his prototype of a password locked safe that duals as a display case for owners’ guns, money and other various valuables. He was awarded a $500 scholarship that he plans to use to patent his idea and build more safes the sell to customers in the future.

James along with the Entrepreneurship Club hope to continue the COD Pitch content tradition and make it an annual contest for aspiring entrepreneurs hoping to get the word out about their product.