Tourism Entrepreneurs Impress “Sharks”
Backpacking in the Talkeetna Mountains is one of the offerings of top winner Tundra Travels.
Entrepreneurs presented ideas to a panel of three Alaska tourism sponsors at the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) trade show in Sitka, and—much like on the TV show Shark Tank—the judges awarded cash prizes to the business they deemed most worthy.
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The top winners at the ATIA 5th Annual Alaska Tourism Shark Tank competition on October 13 are Tundra Travels of Girdwood and Chena Outdoor Collective of Fairbanks. Judges awarded $10,000 for Tundra Travels to put toward buying a second vehicle to increase passenger capacity for next summer. As the runner-up, Chena Outdoor Collective earned $8,000 to buy materials for a shelter structure, which would be the turnaround point for its reindeer sleigh ride.
While the judges didn’t bite at Fishability Alaska’s plan to develop accessible sportfishing opportunities in Ketchikan, attendees awarded the fan favorite (or rather, “Fin Favorite”) the $2,000 prize.
Tundra Travels, Chena Outdoor Collective, and Fishability Alaska join previous Shark Tank top winners: Go Hike Alaska, Salted Roots, Naataq Gear, Laing & Co., Koyukuk River Tribal Tours, Gilpatrick’s Hotel Chitina, Juneau Food Tours, and Paws for Adventure.
Participants were allowed three slides during a 2-minute pitch, aiming to impress this year’s “shark” panel: Dale Wade from the Alaska Railroad Corporation, Scott Habberstad from Alaska Airlines, and Leslie Dahl of Wells Fargo Bank. Those three companies and GCI sponsored the prize package.
The winners went up against other participating businesses that are still looking for investment: Alaska Via Ferrata, which is developing a mountain climbing path at Eaglecrest Ski Area near Juneau; Planeket, the Anchorage-based maker of a travel blanket; Savor Sitka, a walking tour of local food; and Squid Acres Kennels, seeking to build a timber pavilion in Cantwell.
“I am excited to celebrate the winners of the 2022 ATIA Alaska Tourism Shark Tank. We had great ideas presented, and all represented innovation from our industry’s entrepreneurs,” says Sarah Leonard, ATIA president and CEO. “We’re looking forward to watching the winners put their prize money towards growing their businesses!”