Sweet potatoes will be the rage at Fresno State in August when a pitch competition fashioned after the television series “Shark Tank” will wrap up a project currently underway through the University’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The free, public pitch competition will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Leon S. and Pete P. Peters Educational Center, where up to 25 students from the West Fresno Family Resource Center enrolled in the Sweet Potato Project — an entrepreneurship crash course coordinated by the Lyles Center — learn about support services education, training in urban agriculture, business skills, healthy choices, life skills and mental health issues.
They plant and harvest sweet potatoes and at next week’s closing event they will compete and showcase their new concepts and products in front of friends, family and community members.
The five-week program, now in its second summer at Fresno State, began July 6 with training sessions underway Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. leading up to the pitch competition.
The course consists of various activities developed and taught by Dr. Srinivasa Konduru, professor in Fresno State’s Agricultural Business Department.
The middle school and high school students are learning fundamental business concepts that will help them take their sweet potato product to market. They are developing ideas and new products, conducting market research, understanding the financial aspect of their products, creating social media campaigns and more.
While on campus, students are engaging in activities such as a ropes course team bonding exercise, campus and Fresno State farm tours and meeting University entrepreneurship students and Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro.