Social Entrepreneurs Win Big In The “Shark Tank with a Heart” Competition

By Cheryl Hall
The Dallas Morning News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet the two social entrepreneurs who were the big winners in the “OneUp the Pitch” competition hosted by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and five area chapters of the Young Presidents Organization.

The Dallas Morning News

One hundred grand was up for grabs last week at The Bomb Factory in Dallas’ Deep Ellum district.

Brittany Underwood, founder of Akola Project, walked away with $75,000 of it. Daron Babcock, executive director of Bonton Farms, snared the remainder.

The two nonprofit leaders were the winners in OneUp the Pitch hosted by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and five area chapters of the Young Presidents Organization.

Billed as “Shark Tank with a Heart,” there weren’t a lot of glistening teeth from the celebrity judges. Harrison Barnes, the Dallas Mavericks’ hottest rising star and one of the judges, talked a good game before the show.

“Cold shark, ready to eat,” the Mavs starting forward said, meaning that he hadn’t boned up on the contestants ahead of time. “That’s my philosophy.”

But none of the judges –Barnes, Amber Venz Box, superstar fashion blogger; David Brown, Dallas’ recently retired police chief; Lyda Hill, one of the city’s most generous philanthropists or Todd, Wagner, CEO of the Charity Network and Mark Cuban’s longtime billionaire business partner — assumed the snarky role of shark Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful.

The only bad dude on stage was the emcee who kept a strict watch on the four-minute clock that each contestant had to present his or her heartfelt case. The audience appreciated his resolve in keeping the 90-minute show rolling at a quick clip.

The club-dark event with adult beverages drew an eclectic following that wasn’t the typical cohort of a Dallas fundraiser.

That’s precisely what Jennifer Sampson, CEO of Dallas’ United Way, was after when she came up with the idea and then enlisted her comrades at YPO to act as coaches to the social entrepreneur contestants.

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