The Virginia Peninsula’s very own shark tank-style event is back for a third year.
The Ignition Center, a Williamsburg-based nonprofit focused on helping jumpstart and sustain local businesses, will bring startup businesses, investors and local companies together April 27 for Shark Tank Virginia.
The focus this year: construction, defense, health care and more.
The nonprofit aims for the event to be bigger than last year’s. It’s scheduled to run all day, from 10 a.m. to about 9 p.m., said Matthew Kraft, Ignition Center spokesman.
Ignition is still accepting applications for startups who want to participate.
“It’s open to really passionate people who have a good idea who want to create,” Kraft said.
The Ignition Center is anticipating more than 200 attendees — the public is welcome to attend with the purchase of a ticket — and more than 20 startups.
Last year, tickets cost $15. The Ignition website does not yet include information about ticket sales as of Friday.
Between five and eight carefully vetted entrepreneurs and about 20 startups will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, who will give feedback on each pitch. The pitches will be up on stage in the Stryker Center.
“The startups we choose are the ones we see could really use that next kick to get to the next level of their business,” Kraft said.
Last year, the sharks invested $200,000 in participants, according to the Ignition website.
The judges have not yet been determined, although Ferguson, a wholesale supplier of commercial and residential plumbing supplies on the Peninsula, has agreed to sponsor the event.
If an investor in the audience likes the idea, they have the opportunity to approach the startups and offer their investment.
While there will be about 20 main pitches on stage, there will also be room elsewhere in the Stryker Center for other startups to set up booths to display their businesses and products.
In the past, the event has helped launch some products into the national spotlight.
In 2017, a duo from Williamsburg pitched their invention at the Ignition Center’s shark tank— and it made it all the way to ABC’s Shark Tank in January 2018.
Their invention, the Zup Board, is an alternative to wakeboards, inner tubes and other leisure water equipment. It is modeled toward those who have disabilities, so they can also enjoy their time on and in the water.
Last year, the event raised about $15,000, Kraft said.