ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT — Daymond John, right, answers a question posed to him by Dan Kostelec, Project Fibonacci STEAM outreach coordinator, during Thursday night’s program at Rome Free Academy. John is a businessman, investor, television personality, author and motivational speaker. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

‘Shark Tank’ vet hears pitches at Project Fibonacci

Published Aug 4, 2017 at 4:00pm

With fashion and marketing expert Daymond John listening, student entrepreneurs pitched their products during the final installment in the speaker series at this year’s Project Fibonacci STEAM Conference.

Members of three teams talked up their business concepts and then faced questions from the panel that featured John, founder of the clothing business giant FUBU and a regular on the popular television show “Shark Tank,” and eight others, all with ties to business. Those who watch the show know “Shark Tank” is about would-be entrepreneurs presenting their money-making ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs, hoping to gain investment dollars.

On Thursday night in the Rome Free Academy auditorium, the team members from Ready Eats, Green Creations and Purple Disconnection highlighted their ideas and were then quizzed by panelists. Each presentation lasted about 15 minutes. The panel did not rank the presentations by the high school and college students and nor were prizes awarded.

“I don’t know if I could have done that at your age,” John told the presenters as the program ended.

The products pitched were:

  • A food and beverage container that can cool down or heat up the contents.
  • A smartphone-attached processor that can track lost items.
  • A device that can expand smartphone data storage.

Local panel members included Andrew Drozd, Frank DuRoss and Mary Faith Messinger. Drozd, president and chief scientist at Rome-based ANDRO Computational Solutions, is the prime mover behind the conference.

The three teams on the RFA stage had emerged from the week-long conference that focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM. Offering a mix of various workshops and field trips, as well as nightly speakers, the event attracted about 100 “STEAM scholars.”

The intent is to show young people they don’t just have to be one thing – that they can be many things: a scientist, an author, an artist, a musician, a physicist, a mathematician.

Johnn applauded the inclusion of the arts in the conference’s core curriculum.

“I think it is absolutely essential,” he said.