Sophomore Juliet Fern spent her summer break crafting an idea to break the barrier startups face when trying to take their ideas to the next level: a connection to the business world.
Fern first encountered the problem during high school, when she created a med-tech startup geared toward enhancing medical waiting rooms. Her app had multiple portals where users could perform various functions, such as schedule an appointment and get accurate wait times.
Though she won various innovative competitions with her app, she realized she couldn’t take her start up to another level without help.
“I created the app … But I was missing time and money and I didn’t have any access to investors or to mentors,” she said.
She had the idea to start a chapter of TAMID Tank at the University of Miami, an event modeled after the ABC’s “Shark Tank” that gives university students a chance to connect with investors and mentors. Fern teamed up with the TAMID Group at Miami, a chapter of a national organization that does consulting and financial work for startups, to make her idea a reality.
Over the summer, Fern had been working in Venture Capital in Israel, the “startup nation,” and in Florida and she wanted to bring that same accessibility to campus.
“It shouldn’t be just me getting this opportunity,” said Fern, a double major in finance and business technology.
Similar to the TV show, she organized TAMID Tank so there would be a panel of investors and an audience to watch while students pitched their startups. There were more than 400 people in attendance at the first ever UM tank.
TAMID Tank is open to all students or recent UM grads who have tech startup with traction and value. Participants applied through an online application. From there, Fern and various investors made a list of the top 10 startups and set up an interview to narrow the list from 10 to three.
The final three startups received advice and mentorship from the panel and competed for a $20,000 cash grand prize.
Shoot My Travel COO Andres Echeverry, who won the competition with co-founder UM alumna Valerie Lopez, said the experience allowed them to gain experience and confidence in their startup. The funds awarded to the startup gave them the possibility to pitch their idea – pairing travelers with professional photographers around the world – to travel giants Expedia and Hotels.com and develop a partnership.
“TAMID Tank opened doors to new investor possibilities and conversations outside the event,” Echeverry said.
Sophomore Clara Sun helped organize the event alongside Fern and TAMID Group members. Sun, a neuroscience major, said many of the investors who attended the first tank were impressed by the event’s reach and professionalism. Sun said the organizers didn’t expect as many people to show up, but the idea, along with Fern’s tenacity, helped make it happen.
“There’s people who are very motivated and competitive with one another, and that’s pretty much how it is in the real world,” Sun said. “TAMID Tank helps bring that mindset to the University of Miami.”
Ten finalists who did not win the competition were enrolled in an accelerated program, called Miami Venture, which is run by Fern. The program connects finalists to resources to help them become “investor-ready.”
“Now, I’m in a situation where I finally put my foot in the door and I can start giving back to people,” Fern said.
To find out more about TAMID Tank, visit the Facebook page @TAMIDTankMiami