Dolphin Pitch: Which entrepreneur can make the biggest splash?

March 24, 2022

According to, in 2021 there were 5.4 million applications to start a new business in the United States. Despite the pandemic, the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States has not died down. Now, the Davis College of Business is preparing its students to step into this new world. 

On April 13 at 5:30 p.m. the Davis College of Business will be hosting Dolphin Pitch for Jacksonville University business students to compete for a chance to win a $3,500 prize for their business proposal. 

Dolphin Pitch was first introduced to Jacksonville University in 2019. It combines the formats of reality television shows “The Voice” and “Shark Tank” to create a new hands-on experience for business students to present their business plans to a panel of esteemed judges. The judges are looking for creativity, well-thought-out plans and the will to strive for excellence.  

Students will present their original business plans to a panel of judges, like on Shark Tank. The business model will include a marketing plan, the finances necessary to start this business and an appropriate sales strategy.

Most importantly, the idea presented must be realistic and feasible for a new entrepreneur. Just like Shark Tank, students will be expected to explain their plan to the panel and why they think their business model will be successful.  

“I want to see something that fits a niche market that I think is needed,” says Ryan Ayres, commercial middle market team lead at Fifth Third Bank in Jacksonville and a Dolphin Pitch board member. “I want to see a well-thought-out plan around it.” 

Not only will students have a panel to present to, but they will also receive assistance from entrepreneurs who will serve as coaches, like The Voice. These coaches give advice on their business plans and help them better format and present their business models.  

“I evaluate and develop talent, usually high-performance talent,” says Ted Simendinger ’76, a Dolphin Pitch coach. “There are three types of people: thrivers, survivors, and Chevrolet drivers.” 

The Chevrolet drivers are students who have aptitude with knowledge, skills, attributes, and the curiosity to learn, he said. He’ll be looking out for those students, who he believes will be the next generation of business leaders.  

Like The Voice, the Dolphin Pitch wants to find the students who are willing to learn and push to the next phase of their entrepreneurial journey.  

Although the $3,500 first-place prize is a nice bonus, there’s more to gain from participating in Dolphin Pitch. 

According to in 2019, 90% of startup companies failed in the United States. Typically, entrepreneurs do not get multiple chances to present their business models and find investors.  

Dolphin Pitch gives students that cushion, the room for failure, that other entrepreneurs may not get.  

Before pursuing careers, these students have the chance to experience what it’s like to ideate and give a business pitch in front of an expert audience. The mixture of a real-life scenario in a classroom setting is a strong tool that these students can carry with them for life.  

Eun Cho ‘03, co-founder and CEO of Haymaker Coffee and board member for Dolphin Pitch, says that this experience will give students insight on the playbook that other companies and entrepreneurs used to achieve their success, as well as how he achieved his own success as an entrepreneur.  

“I can provide my experience as an entrepreneur recently and tell them these are some of things that you should consider or think about as you build your business that they may not be aware of because they have not gone down that path yet,” Cho said.  


Jaylen Rodriquez

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