Teachers Prepare Pitches For ‘Shark Tank’

By Zane Razzaq
MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, Mass.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This week, two Massachusetts teachers will travel to New York City to pitch their unique startups to “Shark Tank” casting directors.


When she first began teaching yoga to kids with disabilities in 2010, Elizabeth Goranson realized the yoga mat was not “meeting them where they were.”

That’s when her idea for a yoga mat with color-coded pose markings, to walk beginners through proper pose alignments and sequences, was born.

“I thought, ‘Great, I’ll order it from Target,’ but then I couldn’t find it anywhere,” said Goranson, a special education teacher at Stapleton Elementary School.

Eventually, Goranson created Stretch What Matters, a yoga system that caters to those with special needs. Today, the mats are positioned throughout the school, allowing students to take a break and “reset” before returning to class.

On Thursday, Goranson and Matthew Scheffler, also a Stapleton teacher, will travel to New York City’s Javits Center to pitch to judges with the hopes of being on the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.”

The reality series shows aspiring entrepreneurs as they present business ideas to a panel of five investors, also known as the sharks, who then choose whether to invest as business partners.

“We both decided to roll the dice,” said Scheffler, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.

Scheffler is planning to present his Atlas Project idea to judges. The kit, which comes equipped with a world map, a glass vial and a random international coin, from his company Tribute Products, encourages people to “travel the world, hold the word, and carry the world,” said Scheffler.

Travelers can use the map, for example, to collect the moments, connections and relationships they make with the people they meet and travel with from around the world. If they travel to the country of the coin, take a photo with the journal, and tag the company on Instagram, the first round of ice cream or drinks is on Tribute Product.

The glass vial allows travelers to hold little pieces from each part of the world they travel to.

Scheffler said the seed for the idea was first born when his mother scooped up a bit of sand from the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium and saved it for him.

“I felt like a Yankee for the rest of the summer,” said Scheffler, saying the bottle of sand made him realize how powerful it is to have something “tangible, tactile that you hold in life.”

Goranson said it can take months to go through the entire process and finally pitch in front of the “sharks.”

“It’s a big shot in the dark, but we’re willing to take that shot,” said Goranson.

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