Students brainstorm business ideas at Finlandia University’s Shark Day event

HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) – Returning for its second year, Finlandia University’s Shark Day event is for area students to learn about entrepreneurship.

This includes the use of creativity and innovation in business.

They also got the opportunity to come up with business ideas of their own.

“Big focus is having students think outside of the box,” said Finlandia University Education Partner Manager Lauren Huested. “They have to create a product or service based on a theme that we give them right before they split off to do their group sessions to create their product or service, and this year we have outdoor recreation as our theme.”

Students from Baraga, Calumet and the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College CTE Business Class participated in the event, each with their own motivations.

Some students returned from last year.

“I pretty much came back for the thrill of being onstage in front of a lot of judges and being able to know more about starting your own business and getting it invested,” said Calumet High School Student Gauge Downard.

And newcomers were ready to show off their ideas for the first time.

“When we got into our teams, we were tasked with what we wanted to make,” said Calumet High School Student Gabriel King-Takacs. “It has been a great time coming up with the idea, and it’s been a great time so far.”

The students’ ideas are then judged by Big Sharks, who are local business owners and entrepreneurs.

“It’s really exciting to see the energy and the general ideation process that they go through in terms of creating their idea, developing their presentation, and then standing up in front of us big sharks to present,” said MTEC SmartZone Business Development VP Jason Mack.

A group of students from Calumet called P.E.M.D.A.S won this year with their idea for an all-terrain electric wheelchair.

They were awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Finlandia to split amongst themselves for the 2023-2024 school year.

Another Shark Day is planned for the university’s spring semester.