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2022 Chamber Shark Tank event winners dish on their prize-winning products

The Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce's annual Shark Tank event was held May 3 at the Empire Arts Center and offered a $750 prize for first place, $500 for second place and $250 for third place.

1st place winnter Sudiksha Singhal with Sharks.jpg
(From left to right) Rhombus Guys Co-Owner Matt Winjum, Isight Drone Services CEO Tommy Kenville, Edgewood Healthcare CEO Phil Gisi and Countrywide Sanitation President Rachel Gornowicz stand with first place finisher Sudiksha Singhal (second from right) at the Chamber's 2021 Shark Tank event May 3 at the Empire Arts Center.
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GRAND FORKS — Ben Solem, owner of Ben’s Clean Bins, which is in the prototype phase of creation, was just happy to be able to stand in front of business-minded people and present a project he had been working on after his brother hatched an idea.

His brother in Idaho lived under an HOA with a stipulation that all those living under it must have their garbage cans cleaned by a local company.

“There's a lot of companies that make pre-made trucks, and I just kind of took some of their ideas,” Solem said. “I've been working on making my own sprayer setup and my own tank setup and everything for it.”

Solem's idea netted him third place and the $250 prize in the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce's annual Shark Tank event May 3 at the Empire Arts Center.

The Shark Tank event offered a $750 prize for first place, $500 for second place and $250 for third place.

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Ben’s Clean Bins would operate by cleaning garbage cans while collecting the dirty water accumulating in each can and disposing it safely with help of the city of Grand Forks instead of letting it run down driveway, sidewalks and streets.

Kristen Vetter’s proposal finished in second place, which was for Money Golf; a project she and her husband founded which is further along in the development process than Ben’s Clean Bins. She is also the owner of Point Paradise Stables, which she started in 2008 and expanded in 2018 to include the Patch on the Point pumpkin patch event every fall.

Money Golf is a fully-automated, hole-in-one golf contest with a prize pool, available 24/7 on its website.

Cameras are installed on any par 3 hole pointing at the tee boxes and the green to verify attempts. Amateur golfers can register at any participating golf course on their phone and pay a $10 entry fee for a minimum $10,000 prize should they complete a hole-in-one. The prize increases every time an attempt is made, and the participating course receives $2 for each attempt.

“This whole thing is patented, including the price and the regressive prize pool,” Vetter said. “Once you register, you can play at any participating Money Golf course.”

Vetter expects an 80-90% play rate for those golfing at participating courses, of which the goal is to have 1,500 across the U.S. in the next five years.

Possibly the most impressive proposal came from high school junior Sudiksha Singhal, who came up with the idea for Brace Cap LLC during her sophomore year at Red River High School.

Singhal, who has already been named a first-place finalist in the North Dakota State Science and Engineering Fair, came up with the idea for a high school project, and she said it grew from there.

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“It stems from a problem that I've had myself for a long time with braces,” Singhal said. “Braces create cuts and injuries within that patient's mouth, and there's really no solution for that on the market. So that's kind of what I've developed; a permanent cushion between the hard layer of bracket metal versus the soft tissues in the mouth to prevent the friction.”

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Ben and Kristin Schlenske started their business, Let’s Go Webster, which they run out of the historic Webster School, with local families in mind.

Singhal has been trying to develop prototypes for her project, whether it be with help from outside manufacturers, or by purchasing her own 3D printer. She is enrolled in the Innovate ND grant through the North Dakota Department of Commerce, which is where most of her funding comes from. However, the grant was unable to support the purchase of the 3D printer.

She had never participated in the chamber’s Shark Tank event before but decided now was the best time to try it in order to talk to business leaders in the area and get feedback. The $500 grand prize will go toward paying for her 3D printer.

“I wanted to know what other people felt was the right way to go with this and where I could improve the work that I was doing, especially since I don't have as much experience in this industry,” Singhal said.

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESS
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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