This year, taking advantage of the latest trends requires firm feet on the ground, while working with a good partner to achieve necessary goals….
A student entrepreneur, Shruti Dowlath claimed the title of the winner of UCT’s Shark Tank programme. Dowlath won the title after pitching an innovative student networking platform titled UnifySA.
Hosted each year by the UCT Investment Society and the UCT Entrepreneur’s Society, the event aims to shed light on new and unique products and businesses created by student entrepreneurs
UCT’s Shark Tank aims to provide a large number of student entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their business by exposing them to a range of experts from different fields.
Dowlath explains that the task of pitching a unique business idea in three-minutes was both exhilarating and challenging.
“I am convinced that pitching in front of the sharks was scarier than being in an actual shark tank. Months of research were condensed into a three-minute pitch. There was no safety net here. It was sink or swim,” said Dowlath.
UCT Shark Tank
Dowlath impressed judges with her pitch for her networking platform, UnifySA.
Out of 22 participating students, Dowlath’s pitch won the attention and recognition of the panel of expert judges
After beating seven other competitors in the second round, Dowlath secured prizes worth R50 000. The prize included a branding and legal package to launch her business along with an insightful leadership course.
Dowlath described it as a wonderful experience and expressed her surprise that she was selected as the winner.
“All I wanted was to make it to the final – anything that happened after that would exceed my wildest dreams. So, you can imagine how shocked I was when they announced me as the winner. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the sharks saw so much potential in my idea.”
Bringing students together
Dowlath explained that she got the idea for UnifySA when she wanted to originally pitch another idea for UCT Shark Tank.
However, Dowlath soon realised that she didn’t know anyone outside of her faculty.
She explained that universities such as UCT are a hotbed for new business ideas but they are often left behind because the students do not have the necessary skills to launch these businesses.
With UnifySA, Dowlath hopes to bring together student entrepreneurs who have common business interests. The platform which officially launched on 28 September, allows students to list the qualities they want in a business partner.
“My hope is that this idea will promote student entrepreneurship through collaboration,” said Dowlath.
After UCT Shark Tank, plenty of students approached Dowlath to join her team. Since then they have worked hard to grow the business so that it will one day include students from universities across the country.
Feature Image: Shruti Dolwath, Facebook