We’ve all heard of Shark Tank, but are you familiar with Spark Tank? Spark tank is an innovative idea that helps fund social services and nonprofits by providing them a unique opportunity to compete for grant money and mentoring from Marc Sparks, a successful Dallas entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Sparks and Lynne Sipiora started the venture after considering how social services and nonprofits causes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area could greatly benefit from entrepreneurial skills.
In order for organizations to participate in Spark Tank, they must have been a 501c3 nonprofit that has been around for at least 2 years. Once chosen, finalists are given the opportunity to present their ideas and show how they will weigh the results, and from there decision are made and grants awarded. It is a fun process that draws a lot of attention to community needs and in one organization’s case, gives them the funds to get the ball rolling.
Sparks is an entrepreneur at heart and has made it personal concern that finalists succeed in their goals. His mentoring program assure the nonprofits that they are presenting themselves to the best of their ability, and taking advantage of lucrative opportunities along the way. His grant money is intended to ‘spark’ the programs, but more entrepreneurial smarts are needed to continue to succeed.
October 1st is the deadline for applicants to compete in Spark Tank’s round 3. There are three total rounds and a winner will be chosen from each. The three round winners will then go on to compete against one another in December. The winning applicant will take home the prize.
While Marc has lead a series of successful business ventures in the past, this is also not his first venture into philanthropy. He has helped to transform the Samaritan Inn, a Dallas homeless shelter, from a run-down shelter to a thriving center that feeds over 200 people per day. He built a transitional housing center and helped start a successful tenant run thrift store. Moreover, he has also written a book, “They Can’t Eat You,” which gives readers an optimistic view of how anyone can be a successful entrepreneur.
Stayed tuned coming October to find out who the third round winner of Spark Tank is, as they prepare to go up against the first two round winners, Mommies in Need and Dogs Matter.