Application Deadline Nears for YBI ‘Shark Tank’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Local and regional entrepreneurs soon will have a chance to earn prize money to fund their business ideas at the 3rd Annual “Shark Tank” pitch competition and fundraising event hosted by the Youngstown Business Incubator and sponsored by Leonard J. Fisher Family, Vince and Phyllis Bacon and Medical Mutual of Ohio.

The YBI version of the popular television show will see regional startups giving elevator pitches to a panel of six entrepreneurs. The event takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 6 at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center in Boardman.

The process “is very similar to what you would see on the show,” says Corey Patrick, YBI director of evolve technology entrepreneurship. “This year, we really took a step back and looked at the clients we were serving and wanted to do an event that represented all of our programs,” he says. “This is about showcasing the different opportunities, programs and services YBI offers.”

Applications are still open for this year’s event and can be found at The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Sept. 1.

Last year’s applicants were “extremely diverse,” said Colleen Kelly, YBI senior director of organizational advancement, which “makes for a great evening of innovation and amazing stories.”

The event is open to anyone with a business idea, says Patrick. “We really want great entrepreneurs in every spectrum – technology, women- and minority-owned businesses – as well as unique sectors like social enterprise companies.”

To make it a truly regional effort, the YBI invited its partner organizations in Cleveland, Lorain, Kent and Akron to promote the event.

After the applications are collected, an internal committee of business owners and YBI entrepreneurs-in-residence will review them to determine the final businesses to be featured at the event.

“They’ll actually get some business counseling as well just for putting themselves out there,” Patrick says. “We will work with the entrepreneurs to polish their pitch and get them ready for the event.”

During the event, the selected group of entrepreneurs will deliver 90-second pitches to the panel of sharks, who will select a winner to receive the “Shark’s Choice” along with a $5,000 prize to invest in their idea. Audience members will also vote to and name the “Audience’s Choice,” which will also receive a $5,000 prize.

Prize money is made possible by support from the event’s sponsors, The Leonard J. Fisher Family, Vince & Phyllis Bacon, and Medical Mutual of Ohio.

“This event is all about opening doors for people, whether it is making professional connections or getting that crucial piece of funding,” says Luke Politsky, director of development at YBI. “Providing more of these types of opportunities strengthens our economy and community.”

The event is open for anyone to attend. Tickets are $100 each or $800 for a table of eight, and can be purchased at or by calling 330 506 0054. Proceeds will support programming and services at the YBI, which are offered free to startups.

For sponsorship and advertising opportunities in the program booklet, contact Megan Payich at, Luke Politsky at or Colleen Kelly at


Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.