The Do-Good ‘Sharks’ Pick A Winner: Pop-Up Barbershops

By Nancy Dahlberg
The Miami Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A Shark Tank-style pitch event concluded a daylong conference showcasing philanthropic and nonprofit trends in Miami. The winner? “Buzzbox”, a team that builds and runs barbershops made out of shipping containers.

The Miami Herald

The “Sharks” had a tough choice among the four social ventures. Would they choose Master Honey that empowers low-income women to start their own micro-beekeeping businesses? Or perhaps prefer Miami is Kind’s concept to create jobs for young people on the autism spectrum baking cookies for schools? Would they pick Mind&Melody, which crafts music engagement experiences for Alzheimer’s patients? Or do they like Buzzbox’s pop-up barbershops that dispense life advice with the haircut? All were competing for a $10,000 prize.

The Shark Tank, part of the Philanthropy Miami conference on Thursday, was much like the TV version — but with a do-good twist. Gil Bonwitt of Gazelles Social Initiatives, Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub of Merrill Lynch, Seth Werner of Harbour Real Estate Investments and Mary Wong of Office Depot Foundation fired questions at the presenters about how each would use the funding, their marketing strategies and whether their revenue models were solid.

And the winner was … Buzzbox, presented by the Overtown Youth Center. The Buzzbox team builds and runs barbershops made out of shipping containers. These pop-up shops empower youth in low-income neighborhoods with the increased self-esteem that comes with a great cut, served up with mentoring talks. The team has already tested the concept at community events.

The Shark Tank-style event concluded Philanthropy Miami, a daylong conference showcasing philanthropic and nonprofit trends. “Passion Meets Purpose” was the theme when more than 275 people gathered at Jungle Island to explore fundraising tools and strategies for increasing donations, expanding boards and growing volunteer bases.

The Shark Tank event has been held at the conference since 2014, but this year the $10,000 award was accompanied with a venture partner. A new group of venture philanthropy funders will take the winner under its wing, offering mentoring, strategy advice and connections, as well as the funding.

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