COOKEVILLE – The Tennessee Tech Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, modeled after the reality show “Shark Tank,” will take place on Saturday, April 14. 

Students have formed teams focused around an innovative business idea. After going through a series of workshops or popups on campus, teams validate their business ideas with lean concepts and then write a business plan before pitching their idea to a panel of judges in hopes of winning thousands of dollars in prize money.

“About five years ago several deans said they wanted to create entrepreneurs and creators on campus. So, we came up with a business pitch competition,” said Michael Aikens, director of innovation and entrepreneurship. “The ideas come 100 percent from the students. The difference between ‘Shark Tank’ and Eagle Works is that the judges don’t have an investment in the projects. The awards are 100 percent donor funded.”

The competition begins with approximately 20 teams that will be whittled down to the finalists. Those finalists will have seven minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges. For most of the students, this will be the first time they will be in a situation where they pitch their ideas in hopes of gaining valuable feedback.

“This is a chance to jumpstart their business,” said Aikens. “Tennessee Tech graduates work-ready students. We graduate them for the economy and the future of tomorrow. We want to graduate students who are creating their own jobs.”


Tech students Jonathan Zigler and Charlie Jordan of SafeSurv is presented a check for $10,000 Thomas Payne, dean of the college of business, for winning the 2017 Tennessee Tech Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. This year’s competition will be held on Saturday, April 14. Photo courtesy of TTU.

Teams will be vying for $13,500 in prize money. With the funds, the teams have a realistic chance of getting their business off the ground.

“The students who win are very serious about what they are doing and passionate about winning,” said Aikens. “While we tell them we expect them to use the money for their business, they do use the money for legal fees, consultation, research and so on. It really does make a difference.”

Preliminary rounds for The TN Tech Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition will begin at 9 a.m. followed by the trade show in the Tech Pride Room at 10 a.m. at the Roaden University Center. The finalist competition begins at 1:30 p.m. in Derryberry auditorium.

The trade show and finalist competition is open to the public. For more information, go to

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