Dartmouth High students enter the “Shark Tank”

Jan 15, 2019

Are they in or out? That's the question entrepreneurial Dartmouth High students had to figure out as they pitched ideas for new businesses to a panel of their teachers during a mock “Shark Tank” session.

It’s a long-running class at Dartmouth High School, but this year there was a twist: Everything, from the pitch to the final decision, was filmed live before a studio audience. The “Big Green Product Pitch” class, taught by Rick White, teamed up with Robert Perrotti’s media production class to turn up the pressure a bit.

Filming of the student presentations took place over the past week at the high school’s media lab. Business teachers Steve Charest, Jeff Lemler, and Associate Principal Rachel Chavier played the role of investors with cash and equity offers for students with the most promising ideas.

Although the businesses - and money - were not real, it was a valuable learning opportunity for students.

On the final day of filming, Samaya Roukoz and Sarah Ferreira pitched their online fashion boutique concept, called Achante. Roukoz tapped into her love of fashion and struggle to find the perfect fitting clothes at the mall to come up with her business proposal for an online boutique.

“Everything is custom fitted to fit your audience,” Roukoz said. “The idea is that with a variety of clothing on the website they can put in their own measurements.”

After some haggling and back-and-forth, she secured a 20 percent equity in her company in exchange for $10,000 in cash.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Roukoz said. “Even though I did rehearse for it, once you’re up there just like, ‘what are they going to ask me?’ I did prepare questions ahead.”

Will Crane came up with a concept to market a line of custom paddles for paddle tennis, which he also pitched at the Jan. 14 filming.

He explained his business would produce custom-made paddles which could displace the current top-of-the-line products for the growing sports. The investors agreed, settling on an $8,000, 12 percent equity in the company.

Even before the business students and investors worked to secure the best deal in front of the cameras, Dartmouth High’s media production classes were busy with pre-production work.

The students filmed short introduction segments for each business, which were played before each entrepreneur entered the “tank.” Junior Olivia Levasseur and sophomore Carla Damour handled filming for several segments. The pair focused on emulating the style of the real Shark Tank introduction videos by capturing shots of each student creating and using their products.

“I thought it was really cool how the two classes collaborated,” Levasseur said.

On the day of filming the actual presentations, James Mckinney, Reilly Leconte, and Tristan Couto were the brains behind the operation by serving as directors.

Inside the control room, the three monitored the production, switched cameras, handled live and pre-recorded video transitions, and everything that goes along with live television.

“It was a little stressful at first, because you had to know who is talking when,” noted Mckinney.

With the show wrapped, students are now working to add more flair in post-production. Just like the real show, the already dramatic pitches are being filled with dramatic music, and

“Big Green Tank” will premiere with a special showing at the Dartmouth High School library on Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. The screening is open to the public.