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During the NFL offseason, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe is holding the second iteration of his Poe Man’s Challenge and bringing underserved youth together with local San Francisco startups for a Shark Tank-like competition and charity event on March 30.
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Poe, who is an investor in Silicon Valley healthcare startup Lab Sensor Solutions, is calling for local entrepreneurs and company founders to first volunteer to teach at-risk youth about entrepreneurship and how to pitch an early-stage company in front of judges. Those entrepreneurs who apply and are selected will teach a small group of two to three students about their company, with the students then having three minutes to pitch the entrepreneurs’ companies. The winning student team will receive scholarships from the Poe Man’s Dream Foundation.
“It’s always intriguing in San Francisco, the kind of startups out there and the environment they have,” Poe said. “Kansas City was also really intriguing for me because that’s where I play, and second, you figure out how many startups are growing here.”
Prior to the first Poe Man’s Challenge held in Kansas City, Poe told SportTechie how important it is for students to get exposed to startups at a young age even if they never pitch their own companies, calling it an “important life skill.”
The second part of the March event will feature the individual entrepreneurs pitching their companies to a handful of judges, including Poe, Marvin Liao (Partner, 500 Startups), Don Loeb (Vice President, Corporate Development/Strategy, Techstars) and Elizabeth Yin (Partner, 500Startups). Following the pitches, the judges will select a winner who will receive a $15,000 investment from Poe himself, which will be contingent upon company due diligence.
The 26-year-old Memphis, Tenn. native said he is hoping the second installment is “bigger and better” than the first but will still keep the same main goals around educating underserved middle school and high school students along with teaching them valuable business lessons.
One hundred percent of ticket purchases to the event will be donated to Poe’s Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.