YBI Shark Tank

YBI Introduces 2022 Sharks, Launches Call for Entrepreneurs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The launch party for the third annual Shark Tank competition, held by the Youngstown Business Incubator, would have been the perfect ending to a day full of positive news for the organization.

During the Torch Awards ceremony held by the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning Valley Thursday, YBI CEO Barb Ewing was honored with the award for civic leadership.

A few hours later Steelite International announced it would relocate its corporate offices and global headquarters to the Taft Technology Center on the campus of YBI.

Then later that evening, YBI hosted one of the first events inside the new Penguin City Brewing building in downtown Youngstown as it introduced the six sharks who would take part in this year’s fundraiser.

Alas, said Ewing, they were foiled because of a “friendly rivalry” with Youngstown State University.

“We would be dominating the airwaves today. Absolutely dominating the airwaves,” Ewing told the crowd of about 100 gathered.

“Then last night I’m sitting on my back porch,” she recalled, “and I get a message from the Business Journal saying that President Tressel has retired.”

The crowd burst into laughter.

“What lengths he will go to to keep us off the front page,” Ewing joked.

During the event, YBI introduced the two returning and four new sharks who will judge the entrepreneurs at this year’s competition.

The returning sharks are philanthropist and First Lady of YSU Ellen Tressel and Lenny Fisher, CEO of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt.

“YBI is a great organization,” said Fisher, whose family is the main sponsor of the 2022 Shark Tank.

“It gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to build what they want to do and stay in a facility where they don’t have to pay a lot of rent. They can grow their company, become successful and have great guidance from everyone in there.”

Tressel and Fisher will be joined by Tom Stabi of Schroedel, Scullin & Bestic CPAs, Herb Washington, CEO of HLW Fastrack Inc., entrepreneur and former lightweight boxing champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Lena Esmail, CEO of QuickMed Urgent Care, which sponsored the launch party.

“I’m a product of a lot of what YBI experiences, which is young entrepreneurs who just need an opportunity,” Esmail said.

YSU President Jim Tressel will emcee the event, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman.

The YBI launched Shark Tank in 2019, but postponed it in 2020 because of the pandemic, before bringing it back in 2021.

Last year’s event raised about $200,000 and was attended by 500. Ewing says this year they’re planning for attendance to be around 550 to 600.

Two startups, NeverEnding and GERAS Home Solutions, competed in the pitch competition against four other entrepreneurs, coming out on top and earning $5,000 in seed money.

The call for entrepreneurs to apply to pitch their startups opened Thursday evening and will run until 5 p.m. Sept. 1.

More information on sponsorship opportunities and how to apply can be found at ybi.org/sharktank/.

Pictured at top from left: Jim Tressel, Lena Esmail, Herb Washington, Lenny Fisher, Ellen Tressel, Ray Mancini and Tom Stabi.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.