Sophomore Elodie Jones wins Edina Shark Tank event

Hannah Owens Pierre, Staff Writer

On April 14, three Edina High School students and members of DECA participated in the Edina Chamber of Commerce’s Shark Tank event, a playful nod at the hit-entrepreneurial ABC show. Like the show, the inaugural event involved three entrepreneurs pitching their business start-ups to a set of judges. Sophomores Vishal Dasani, Robbie Smith, and Elodie Jones each pitched their businesses to a panel of three local business owners, hoping to receive investment into their company. 

Dasani presented his company, Ploutos Investment App, designed to address the lack of funds that stop young people from starting businesses. “Pluotos is essentially the middleman linking young entrepreneurs with their business ideas to investors,” Dasani said. Dasani’s presentation was followed by a series of questions from the ‘sharks.’ Paul Mooty, Vice Chairman of Faribault Woolen Mill Company, asked Dasani what the structure of his company looked like. Meanwhile, Kevin McArdle of SureSwift Capital wanted to know how Dasani and his partners settled on their idea. 

Jones presented next, pitching for Botticelli—a custom swimwear brand to build the confidence of curvy women. “According to my research, a lot of women like myself spend up to six hours shopping for a swimsuit. . .because we have non-a-line, curvy, muscular bodies that aren’t considered by big brands when they are designing swimwear,” Jones said. Botticelli, the name of Jones’ business comes from Sandro Botticelli, an Italian artist of the Early Renaissance whose painting “The Birth of Venus” depicts the ‘ideal’ female body type of the time. 

The inspiration for Botticelli came from Jones’ issues in shopping for swimsuits. “It [was] really exciting to think of creating a brand that would fix my problem,” Jones said. “I definitely experienced hurdles [in making Botticelli], including the fact that I forgot the competition was coming up until two weeks before and so I almost dropped out of it. But instead, I worked super hard until the competition.” 

Smith was the last presenter, explaining the purpose of his company Edina Boys Lawncare, a yard service led by Edina students to take care of customer’s yard-care needs. Smith’s company uses all-electric products to promote environmental sustainability. “We have a service unlike any other,” Smith said. “We’re a group of high school boys, and we have intentions of helping our community and helping people out in tough times.” 

Following the three presentations, the judges stepped away to decide on the winner of the project. When they returned, John Schultz, Superintendent of Edina Public Schools, crowned Jones the champion of the competition in addition to a $500 cash prize. Dasani and Jones each received $100 for their presentations. 

Prior to entering the competition, Jones had experience in the business field. Last summer during quarantine, she started her own small business. ElodiebirdCo sells handmade bracelets made of multi-colored beads; her interest in entrepreneurship led her to join DECA this year. Since then, she has competed in tournaments for the activity and made it into the state competition. 

Earning the title of Edina Shark Tank Champion isn’t the end of Jones’ business pursuits. She plans on competing in the future and continuing to work on Botticelli, as well as ElodiebirdCo. As for the $500, she isn’t going to Disney World. Instead, Jones has a more responsible goal in mind. “I’m planning on taking the money I won to reinvest it into Botticelli!” Jones said.