YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Have you ever sat at home with an idea for the next big thing floating around in your head? Thinking, if only I had some money to back this dream up?

Youngstown Business Incubator is giving you the chance to make that idea come to life with their second annual Shark Tank Event. All you have to do is have a pitch and apply.

On Thursday night, YBI held the kickoff for their local Shark Tank event, unveiling the sharks as well as the emcee: YSU President Jim Tressel.

“It’s my job to make sure these sharks are swimming,” Tressel said.

Tressel also got the sponsors excited for this year’s round of potential investments.

Come October 28, the entrepreneurs will take center stage at Waypoint 4180 to give their pitch, and just like last year, no idea is off the table.

“We’re looking for companies that are a little bit farther along, maybe have some investment already. We’re looking for those high performing startups from all over Ohio,” said Corey Patrick, YBI director of entrepreneurial services. “We had medical tech companies that applied. We had apps that applied. There was a clothing company for dogs and cats that applied, so it’s open to anybody.”

They’ll present in front of six familiar faces, all of whom are innovators themselves:

  • Terrill Vidale, President & CEO, 2Deep Entertainment
  • Patrick McKenna, Partner, Comeback Capital
  • Ellen Tressel, Philanthropist
  • Len Fisher, CEO, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt
  • Timothy Wolf Starr, CEO, Atlas Partners
  • John Masternick, CEO of Windsor House Inc.

“I’m just looking at helping and sharing some of that knowledge with them of what I’ve done in the past, and hopefully I can help them,” said Vidale.

The sharks have the tough job of deciding which of the finalists has the “it” factor.

They will select their top three, and audience members will vote to advance three other entrepreneurs to the final round. The sharks have the final say in who takes home the cash prizes.

Plus, they can invest their own money into any of the ideas.

“It’s going to be very competitive because, I mean, Youngstown itself got very brilliant people,” Vidale said.

“You just gotta have courage to present and you gotta do it very confidently and you gotta convince them that it’s a good idea,” Tressel said.

Really, everyone can be winners that day. The audience will be filled with potential investors, too, and the sharks say you have nothing to lose.

The 2019 winner, Lindsay Watson, founder of Augment Therapy, secured over $350,000 as a result of the event.

“This is something that you want to at least do to just practice, get all the feedback as possible because it’s going to make you a better entrepreneur,” Vidale said.

“It’s only takes one great idea that could transform our region,” Tressel said.

If you have a startup that you want to pitch for YBI’s Shark Tank, you can apply on their website.

The actual Shark Tank event is October 28 at Waypoint 4180, and the community is welcome to attend. The cost is $75 per ticket, which can also be bought on their website.