Alfred Cove: Rotary ‘shark tank’ event for social change a roaring success

Fremantle Foundation executive officer Dylan Smith was a “shark” during the inaugural Rotary Shark Tank.
Fremantle Foundation executive officer Dylan Smith was a “shark” during the inaugural Rotary Shark Tank.

AN INAUGURAL event that offered social entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their plan for positive change has exceeded expectations, according to incoming Applecross Rotary Club president Ian Fairnie.

Finalists came face to face with a panel of successful Rotarians and philanthropists at Tompkins on Swan on March 7.

The evening was inspired by the Shark Tank television program, with the potential for financial support from a Rotary club the carrot for those brave enough to dive in.

The five finalists had four minutes to pitch before the Sharks were afforded six minutes to grill them.

Mr Fairnie said the proposals – which included a sea container-based medical service that could be deployed to areas where it is needed and microhubs that house resources, mentors and information for marginalised people – were great.

“The event exceeded our expectations,” he said.

“We gave ourselves a tight time frame which included the Christmas-New Year period but we were really happy to have 30 proposals for our consideration by the closing date.”

Five finalists were picked from the 30 applicants, with business-to-business professionals from Icon offering support to ensure proposals were ready to go.

“It is a little early to be able to learn if any of the proposals will be picked up by a Rotary club,” Mr Fairnie said.

“But all of the finalists have indicated they are very happy with the process they went through.”

He said the Rotary Shark Tank could become a regular event, “perhaps annually if not more often”.

One of five Sharks, Fremantle Foundation executive officer Dylan Smith, said he loved hearing from those keen to change the world.

“All five presentations where inspiring,” he said.

“From reducing domestic violence to waging a war on plastic, these were big ideas that deserve our support.”

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