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Students pitch business ideas in Shark Tank-style competition

Posted at 6:44 PM, May 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 10:48:58-04

Students from around the U.S. pitched their business ideas in front of a panel of judges as part of the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) National Competition on May 27 at Sunset Station. Top teams from the U.S. will compete at the SAGE World Cup in Odessa, Ukraine in August.

The competition plays out like an episode of Shark Tank - students begin developing their businesses before the event, then present their work to the judges. Those with the best ideas earn prize money, which can then be used to grow their businesses even further. Thus, their school projects can become legitimate enterprises.

And some of these companies can have a significant positive impact. One team from Ireland developed a shower head that uses color-coded lights to alert users when they're using too much water.

"Studies show that people who bought this device saved an average of 140 gallons per household - per week," said SAGE Global Founder and CEO Curtis DeBerg.

Deberg also noted that projects developed for SAGE competitions do more than teach students how to run a business, they also break down social barriers and allow different backgrounds to coexist in a creative environment.

"[Ukraine] is a former Soviet Republic. They've got some issues with Russia," said DeBerg. "When [students] go to the World Cup, they'll see the Russian and Ukranian teams interacting, not because of conflict, but because of creativity and innovation."

Teams from Foothill, Green Valley, and Coronado high schools represented Henderson in this year's competition. The students from these schools also participate in the city's Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (YEA) program, which was formed two years ago to teach students about starting and running a business.