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Local Students Excel in Gwinnett Chamber Shark Tank

Two area students nearly took home the top prize in the Gwinnett Chamber Shark Tank Tuesday.

Emma Hearn and Morgan Hongkham, both of Brookwood High School, placed second and third respectively in the countywide competition that rewards students for their entrepreneurial prowess. Hearn pitched her photography business, These Moments Captured, while Hongkham, wowed judges with his Smokey Mountain Cutting Boards.

Hearn, who was also named Best Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Snellville, and Hongkham, the runner-up, were two of more than a dozen students from Brookwood, Grayson and South Gwinnett high schools who took part in the Snellville Shark Tank program created by the Snellville Entrepreneur Council. The program, based on the popular television show, asks students to create an actual business and compete to win seed money after pitching their business to a panel of judges.

“The Shark Tank is always an awarding opportunity for the students, jury members, and me,” said Economic Developer Eric Van Otteren. “To see our young people stand in front of a jury of local business men and women and pitch their business idea impacts all involved for a long time.”

Isaiah Jackson, creator of Dragon’s Bread Pudding, and Brandy Star Merriweather, owner of Elite Services, both of GHS, were also invited to compete at the Gwinnett Chamber Shark Tank after wooing the judges during the two-day Snellville Shark Tank event May 2 and 3.

A special award – “Most Likely to Have a Business in Support of the Towne Center Plan” – went to Jackson who developed a business which would be a good fit for the Towne Center project.

“The 6th annual Shark Tank will award the 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year certificate and prize money at the Regular Meeting of Mayor and Council on May 22,” Van Otteren said. “This year there is a special award to an amazing aspiring chef that embodies the spirit of Snellville: Where Everybody is Proud to Be Somebody, and engages the concept of The Towne Center at Snellville.”

Those who participated in the Snellville Shark Tank are as follows:

Tuesday, May 2 Pitches to the Shark Tank

Malika Kapasi
Paradise Bracelets
award $100
Brookwood HS

Casey Newel
Hidden Streetwear
Brookwood HS

Morgan Hongkham
Smokey Mountain Cutting Bards
award $600
Brookwood HS

Zarian Anderson
Sneak Peak
South Gwinnett HS

Kimberly Sams
award $100
South Gwinnett HS

Emma Hearn
These Moments Captured
award $1,000
Brookwood HS

Nadine Leggett
Nadia’s Naturals
award $100
Brookwood HS

Tajauna Aliquekwe
South Gwinnett HS

Jahbrea Troxier
award $100
South Gwinnett HS

Delora Schmidt
Journey Boards
Brookwood HS

Wednesday, May 3 Pitches to the Shark Tank

Sydney Roney
Grayson Tech/Grayson HS

Patrice Smith
Blurred Waves
Grayson Tech/Grayson HS

Ariayanna Centeio/Kalan Burton
Grayson Tech/Grayson HS

Angela Salinass
The Salinass Bakery
South Gwinnett HS

Akeyjah Charles
The Key Images
award $300
South Gwinnett HS

Isaiah Jackson
Dragon’s Bread Pudding
award $500
Grayson Tech/Grayson HS

Brandy Star Merriweather
Elite Services
award $500
Grayson Tech/Grayson HS

Ariyana Wallace
Tier Fest
award $200
Grayson Tech/Grayson HS

Kemba Alexander
South Gwinnett HS


Tom Witts, Mayor of Snellville
Leslie Trimmer, Webb, Tanner & Powell
Rob Gannaway, Steppingblocks
Josh Sweeney, Atcore Systems
Kelly McAloon, Snellville Tourism and Trade
Mike Burns, Sunshine Rotary Club
Doug Adams, Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce
Rebecca Kay Sapp, Sapp Law Firm
Kathy Emanuel, businesswoman
Jamey Toney, Country Financial
Barbara Bender, Bender CPA, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Snellville
Sandra Hill, professional life coach