4th annual Spark Tank helping local start-ups give back to the community

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One of the most popular shows on TV has inspired a challenge which could help make a positive impact here in the Central Valley. Organizers call it "Shark Tank without the sharp teeth".

By now most of us are familiar with the hit ABC reality show Shark Tank. Contestants try to impress a panel of millionaires and convince them to invest in their business.

In Downtown Fresno on Friday churches, faith-based organizations, as well as local businesses competed in the 4th annual Spark Tank. A pitch fest to a panel of experts for start-up money-- just like on the TV show

"Our panel of Sparks are much nicer than the Sharks on TV. They actually give the kind of pushback that will help the entity do a better job," said Randy White, CCT Executive Director.

The contest was hosted by a program through Fresno Pacific University.

Participants were given four minutes to win over judges for a shot at $3,000. The only stipulation was their idea had to make a positive social impact on the community.

"Business done with a social goal or social mission. It doesn't matter if you're selling a cupcake or you're doing employment readiness training. If you're doing it in a sustainable way that has a revenue stream then you can make a real difference," said Dr. White.

Vikki runs a local coffee shop, Cornerstone Coffee Company, that supports women and children who are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Her pitch was for money to help with new equipment

"When we took over Cornerstone Coffee Company it was gifted to us fully supplied, but the supplies are old so we need to replace the equipment-- refrigerator, ice machine, and such.

The goal was hand close to $20,000 in funds.

"These organizations don't have to ask for a grant somewhere or depend on contributions because the models themselves are sustainable-- very exciting format," said Dr. White.
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