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Drew University Students Dare to Enter the Bear Den

Students pitch investment and product ideas for critical feedback

December 2023 – Drew University held its semi-annual Bear Den (formerly called Shark Tank) event where students present their fall 2023 semester projects to a panel of alums, faculty, staff, and industry professional judges for critical feedback.

The bi-annual event is sponsored by Drew’s Economics & Business Department, the Center for Mentoring and Professional Networks, and Launch.

“Events such as Bear Den contribute to a student’s Launch plan by providing intentional building and growth as part of a cumulative plan,” said Executive Director of Launch Stacy Fischer. “In addition, Bear Den helps students develop communication, one of eight Career Readiness Competencies as defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).”

Mentoring, a key tenet of Launch, is at the backbone of the immersive event. Drew alum Sabrina Fruci C’15 served as a panelist at the event to mentor current students—just as she was mentored when she participated in the event as a Drew student.

In classrooms throughout Brothers College, more than 100 students pitched their product and business ideas to their respective panelists.

Students received constructive feedback on their projects stemming from classes in digital marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and marketing, among others.

There were marketing pitches for landscaping services, lifestyle blogs, and cosmetic and clothing start-ups. Many ideas for expansion from well-established consumer products were explored. Analyses were given on the real estate and technology sectors.

Jonathan Zheng C’25, Joseph Rojek C’25, Nathan Entwisle C’25, and Reneiloe Lerato Mashiatshidi C’25 reviewed the current state of The Fund, Drew’s student managed investment fund, and presented portfolio holdings and strategies.

Panelist and Fintech Advisor Andrew Levine offered the group some investing expertise. “Investing is really hard,” he said. “You’re learning, seeing what works and what doesn’t work.”

Students were given advice on their products and their presentations themselves. Tough questions were fielded by the students; knowledge and expertise were shared by the panelists. In many cases, the constructive criticism shared led to open brainstorming sessions to help the students improve and expand their projects to the next level.

Panelist and Director with Guidehouse Financial Services Pete Pearlman marveled at how prepared all the presenters were.

Students presented websites and blog pages to support their entrepreneurial ideas. Juliana Sarmiento C’25 presented her fashion and beauty website and blog. Bria Wilcox C’26 offered solid ideas to grow her mother’s candle company. The students included many media platforms in their promotion plans, resulting in comprehensive marketing campaigns.

The event concluded with a networking reception.

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