Ankeny Economic Development Corporation

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STUDENT SHARK TANK 2022 Results        

Great minds on a mission is a good way to summarize the 2022 Student Shark Tank event. From local apparel with a mental health message to improving non-profit efficiency across the country area students pitched their ideas for making a profit and improving the world.

Ankeny Orbis students hosted this year’s event on Martin Luther King Day. Audrey Pierick, Faith Lilly and Aaron Martin planned, organized and executed the event. Participants representing three Ankeny schools, two universities and a trade school pitched ideas for their shot at winning funds to further their efforts.  

Thomas Brustkern’s mission for PLAb is to make 3D printing more accessible for Ankeny area students. Brustkern experienced long wait times and limited options for accessing the 3D printing capabilities in Ankeny. With his winnings, he plans to create a club of 3D printer enthusiasts to share knowledge and resources and make this innovative technology more accessible to community members and students.

Christopher Martin is on a mission to combine his passion for improving low-income housing options with his business savvy and computer science skills to build a business that will provide Habitat for Humanity chapters around the country with an affordable application system. Working with industry experts he is developing a solution that will improve efficiency and reach for these non-profits.   

Bradley Van Heeswyk invented and patented a unique solution for turkey hunters to easily preserve and commemorate their birds without the time and expense of a taxidermist.  

Judges ranked participants on the merit of the idea, return on investment, execution plan and presentation. The judging panel included Melissa Johnson, President of Midwest Insurance Corporation, Deshara Bohanna, owner of Design Fetish, Aaron Johnson, VP of Marketing at Accumold and Kerry Walter-Ashby, Ankeny City Council. 

For-Profit Winners: 

1st place: Christopher Martin 

2nd place: Bradley Van Heeswyk 

3rd place: Michael Chongo/Devin Nalley 

4th  place: London Schuchart 

Non-Profit Winners: 

1st place: Thomas Brustkern 

2nd place: Nick Jensenius 

Pictured above: Aaron Johnson, Audrey Pierick, Faith Lilly, Aaron Martin and Joey Beech

Pictured below: Michael Chongo, Deshara Bohanna, Davin Nalley


2021 Results 

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.  


Ahmed Musa and Jeremiah Khat pitched Laced Up Family.

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.  

Hear the STAR 102.5 interview with one of last year's winners, London Schuchart.  Image of 2020 Shark Tank Winner, London Schuchart with Executive Director Joey Beech.



  • To enter you must be between the age of 14 and 24 years old.

  • You must complete a registration form. Early registration is strongly encouraged. Those received prior to January 4 will get preferred practice session timing and pitch scheduling.

  • You must be able to present at the event or make special arrangements with organizers.

  • Timed pitch – 10 minutes to present, 5 minutes for follow-up Q&A.

Judging Criteria:

                Judging is subjective and based on the professional opinion of those judging. Judging categories will include: Idea (Business or Community), Return on Investment, Execution Plan and Presentation. The judging panel is made up of area business professionals and community leaders including some angel investors.     


                 Prize money will be distributed by check after all presentations have been made and judges have agreed.  Participants do not have to be present when awards are announced but will be notified. 

Not Sure What to Expect?

                 Don't worry. While this is a serious competition with serious money on the line, we are here to help you succeed. We have a template presentation you can follow. We are also offering office hours where you can get more information and ask questions. Practice pitch sessions are also available for you to test your pitch and get feedback from judges ahead of the competition. Register early to guarantee a practice pitch slot and preferred pitch time. You can also contact us with any questions you have.

Ankeny has an extensive list of innovative employers who have a variety of career opportunities.  View these short videos to learn more.  Employment, scholarships, internships, and on-the-job training are available at a number of area employers. Contact us to receive more information.

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