Miltona native wins UMD Shark Tank event
Duluth's business sharks/ judges chose Knoll Restorations as the winner of the 4th annual UMD Shark Tank event on April 30 at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The business's owners, engineering students Joe Kastner from Miltona and Andrew Knoll from Dayton, have already been operating this niche vintage motorcycle parts manufacturer that uses 3D printing technology to create high quality intricate plastic components in low volumes.
Knoll utilizes social media and online stores to reach global consumers to manufacture and sell previously unaffordable or unavailable products to the general public.
Kastner, a junior majoring in industrial engineering at UMD, and Knoll, a junior mechanical engineer major, earned a $3,000 scholarship with their business creation.
"We became entrepreneurs this semester when we realized we had developed a product that other people were searching for," said Knoll. "Our next steps will be increasing our product lines and purchasing another 3D printer and other supplies."
Kastner and Knoll, who will graduate in 2021, also connect with other entrepreneurs and lovers of vintage motorcycles.
"We enjoy sharing our processes and current personal restoration projects to help inspire and educate those who have their own dreams they are building," said Knoll.
This year's event had a record attendance — close to 300 people — and was coordinated entirely by a handful of UMD students.
Earning second place was Katelyn France with SMYLE LLC (Scientists Making Your Life Easier), a manufacturer of individualized QR-coded medical bracelets. She earned a $2,000 scholarship. Sam Goetsch and Michael Heile took third with their business of Mike & Sam Games LLP, makers of giant handcrafted yard games modeled after the classic childhood originals. They earned a $1,500 scholarship
Cole DiMeglio's Hot Dish app was chosen by the audience as its favorite entrepreneurial endeavor, which earned Dimeglio a $500 scholarship. The food app takes uploaded on-hand ingredients and generates different recipes that could be made with those ingredients.
Prior to the event, 30 contestants were honed down to six who then pitched their ideas. The six finalists each worked with a mentor in their field prior to the final competition. Mentors helped applicants further develop the business ideas.
The annual competition is sponsored by the Labovitz School of Business and Economics in support of entrepreneurship.