Ankeny Economic Development Corporation

Products and Non-profits Pitched to Local Sharks

February 9, 2021

Students from four school districts, five colleges and one trade school participated in the Student Shark Tank competition held on Martin Luther King Day. Funded by a Polk County Community Betterment grant, a total of $5,000 was awarded to eight young entrepreneurs and community leaders.

Business ideas varied from a patented product created in a high school CAD class to a business service to help other businesses. Other ideas included apparel sales and high-tech tracking systems.

The top place community project was Devs Doing Good pitched by Connor Forgarty of Valley High School. Devs Doing Good is a student organization that provides opportunities for students interested in code development to apply their skills for the benefit of a non-profit in need. It is less than a year old but is planning to expand to school districts across the state of Iowa. Other winning community projects included Harvesting For The Arts (H.A.R.T.)to assist students pursuing activities in the arts, providing supplies for teachers and building an outdoor classroom.

Each pitch was judged on the merit of the idea, return on investment, execution plan and presentation. Area sharks on the judging panel included Kerry Walter-Ashby, Ankeny City Council; Chris Murray president and CEO of Denny Elwell Company; Trent Murphy, owner of CJM Financial and Mike Mertz with Ankeny School District.

“This is a fun way to connect students with the business community and give them a chance to test out their skills.” said Murray. “We have a lot of young talent. We want to give them an opportunity to shine.”

Due to COVID-19 safety measures the in-person judging panel was limited. The hybrid meeting model allowed participants to pitch in-person or virtually. This arrangement allowed more to get involved. A total of 18 pitches were made.The in-person portion of the event was hosted by Accumold at their headquarters in Ankeny.


Business Category




Business Sitters

Amber Smith

Drake University


Dog Mom

Tyler Brown

Southview Middle School


Early Bird

Bradley Van Heeswyk

Local 33 Plumber & Pipe Fitters



Shreyas & Shrestha Shrestha

Johnston Middle School



Community Project Category




Devs Doing Good

Connor Forgarty

Valley High School



Margaret Cook

Ankeny High School


Teacher Supply

Megan Rembert

Southview Middle School


Centennial Outdoor Classroom

Aaron Martin

Ankeny Centennial High School


Megan Rembert of Southview Middle School pitches her idea to Mike Mertz, Chris Murray, Aaron Johnson and Kerry Walter-Ashby (online).

Connor Forgarty pitches Devs Doing Good via Zoom.

For More Information:

Contact Joey Beech, Executive Director

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