Pitching the sharks

KAPAA — The air was tense in Kapaa High’s music room Thursday night as students and guests waited for the winner to be announced at the school’s Shark Tank Competition.

As the $400 check was turned toward them, the members of “Encourage the Heart” celebrated their victory.

“It feels really amazing,” said Ian Nartatez, sales and marketing director of the group. “I never thought we would actually win this. Honestly, it was very tedious getting here.”

Although their business idea began as a class assignment, Nartatez, Matthew Steinohrt, Nicholas Hauge and Levi Kanealii came together to expand on the idea.

“We decided to make it simple — an app that makes people happy,” Nartatez said.

The group came up with the idea after Kauai County Councilman Mason Chock came to Kapaa High School and spoke to their class about five leadership values. The fifth value was “encourage the heart.” This is how the members also decided on their group’s name.

Based upon the TV show “Shark Tank,” the competition featured four groups of students who presented their businesses to judges or “sharks.” The students were judged based upon features such as originality, business model and presentation.

The sharks, or judges of the competition, featured local business owner and Realtor, Tad Miura; a chairman of Hanalei Bay’s Rotary Club, Ric Cox; manager at the Bank of Hawaii, Trevor Durham; artist Denise Dion Scoyni; and director of the office of economic development for the County of Kauai, George Costa.

Encourage the Heart was a business “dedicated to creating a personal, uplifting experience for every individual.” The group focused on aiding those who suffer from depression and who simply wish to be happy through their website, www.kapaahighschool.net/encouragetheheart.

The site is in progress. People can take a small survey to indicate their level of suffering and the website will present them with certain music, books, and quotes that can aid them in their struggles. Suicide hotline numbers are presented as well. The group members are also in the process of creating an app which will feature inspiring quotes created by the group members, as well.

The other businesses included “Elevation Station,” designed to feature activities to help people get in shape and have fun, “Ohana Mau Loa Kupo’o Co. 96746,” which is committed to preserving the Polynesian culture through clothing, and “Weather, Water, Waves,” a business meant to provide people with important information about Kauai’s beaches such as shark sightings and wave action.

“It gives students an opportunity to formalize a business plan and understand what it takes to start and maintain a profitable business,” said volunteer Sara Miura, who is also the sales and marketing director for Deja Vu Surf Hawaii.

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