“Shark Tank” Star Daymond John, $30K in Prizes Featured at the Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center “Ideathon 2020”

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At a high-stakes case-competition, Penn students were challenged to pitch major retailer Ralph Lauren Corporation with bold new business ideas—literally overnight.

PHILADELPHIA, January 28, 2020 — What if you had to come up with a brilliant idea to make a major American brand even more successful—and present that company with a fully-fleshed plan in under 24 hours? That’s what close to 200 enterprising University of Pennsylvania students did at the first-ever “Ideathon,” held by the Wharton School’s Jay H. Baker Retailing Center. Ideathon ran for 24 hours straight from 3 pm, January 24 to 3 pm, January 25 at the Sheraton Hotel on the Penn campus.

Event partner Ralph Lauren Corporation tasked student teams with three retail business challenges each worth a $10,000 cash prize. Since the event ran overnight the students burned the midnight oil to strategize and create their pitch presentations. They were supported by 40 leading mentors from industry, startups, and academia.

Offering inspiration to the students was “Shark Tank” star Daymond John, aka “The People’s Shark,” who delivered a fireside chat. He regaled the student audience with tales of his own rise, from a kid selling t-shirts on the streets of Harlem, to a struggling entrepreneur staring into the face of bankruptcy, to founder of the renowned $6 billion FUBU clothing brand.

The student teams had three minutes to pitch their solutions to three retail challenges —  personalization, in-store experience, and mobile — complete with slide presentations and projected financials—to senior leadership of the Ralph Lauren Corporation and Wharton professors. Judges then had two minutes to ask questions.

Some students paced outside the ballroom, quietly practicing their pitches until the last moment. They were fueled by snacks ranging from organic chick pea puffs to caffeine-laced energy bars, running on little sleep and a lot of nervous excitement. Students could also take advantage of guided pitch training and mindfulness exercises as they drove themselves through the marathon event.

Participating students hailed not only from the Wharton School but the University of Pennsylvania’s schools of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Medicine and Design.

For more information about the Baker Retailing Center, visit https://bakerretail.wharton.upenn.edu/

About the Baker Retailing Center

The Jay H. Baker Retailing Center, an interdisciplinary industry research center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was established in 2002 through a generous gift by Jay and Patty Baker. In 2010, the Bakers endowed the Center permanently. Jay Baker, former president and director of the Kohl’s Corporation, is a graduate of the Wharton School, class of 1956.

About The Wharton School

Founded in 1881 as the world’s first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is shaping the future of business by incubating ideas, driving insights, and creating leaders who change the world. With a faculty of more than 235 renowned professors, Wharton has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, Executive MBA, and doctoral students. Each year 13,000 professionals from around the world advance their careers through Wharton Executive Education’s individual, company-customized, and online programs. More than 99,000 Wharton alumni form a powerful global network of leaders who transform business every day. For more information, visit www.wharton.upenn.edu.

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