Did the sharks bite in first virtual Essex MBA Shark Tank

April 2020 saw the annual Shark Tank competition for The Essex MBA move online for the first time.

  • Date

    Tue 5 May 20

A female MBA student stands with her arms folded and looking confidently at the camera in front of the Essex Business School Building.

Shark Tank: The Essex MBA returned this April 2020 but not as we've seen it before.

This April the University of Essex gave Indian entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete in its latest Shark Tank event, in a special online edition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants pitched their business ideas to an expert panel in the style of US TV show 'Shark Tank' for an opportunity to be awarded generous scholarships to the Essex MBA programme. The event followed the success of the University’s first ever Shark Tank, held in the Southern Indian city of Bangalore in May 2019.

Participants hoping to join the programme were given just 10 minutes to impress the sharks and earn the scholarship which could fast-track the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Each participant was required to deliver a 60-second elevator pitch of their business idea before presenting their value proposition and finally facing tough questions from the experts.

Heading up the panel was Professor Nicolas Forsans, an international business and corporate strategy expert, and Director of the Essex MBA. He was joined by Ankit Mehrotra, an Essex Alumnus and Co-founder and CEO of the successful Indian company Dineout, Sandeep Sharma, Director of the University’s India Regional Office in New Delhi and Andy Mew, the University’s Head of Start-up Support.

Professor Forsans said: "On the Essex MBA we seek to develop socially responsible entrepreneurs committed to delivering sustainable business. Our students are talented, ambitious and full of energy. We know it’s not easy to demonstrate that during a video call but that’s the challenge we set and the candidates certainly rose to it! It’s a real shame we couldn’t visit India this year to hear the pitches however we were delighted with the success of our first virtual Shark Tank event and were pleased to award scholarships to many worthy candidates."

Business ideas pitched at the event included a modern take on the traditional Indian rickshaw, new ideas for mobile apps, food delivery and even a unique form of footwear.

Andy Mew delivers start-up support to students at StudioX inside the University’s onsite Innovation Centre, a hub for entrepreneurs. His role sees him support Essex students to turn their ideas into their dream business venture.

He said: "The pitches we heard today were incredibly impressive. They span from novel, and creative, to practical - with each one demonstrating a real sense of solving the daily challenges their potential customers face. I encourage all of them to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions and look forward to seeing them on campus this year – as MBA students – and welcoming them into StudioX, where they can continue to build their business empires."

Following their success at the event a number of budding entrepreneurs received scholarship offers totalling £52,000 (48 Lakhs INR) helping them on their way to a world-class MBA programme.

The Essex MBA Dean’s Award is still available to applicants wishing to start their MBA in the UK in October 2020, offering scholarships worth up to 100% of the course fee. Assessment for the award is based on an online interview with the MBA Director (for those who were unable to take part in events like Shark Tank). Those hoping to receive a generous scholarship are advised to apply now.

The Essex MBA is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) making Essex Business School among the top 2% of business schools in the world.