Nursing Innovation on Fire: The Annual NNBA Shark Tank Competition
By Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC
The National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA) is the flagship organization promoting nurse entrepreneurship in the United States and beyond. With a 35-year history, the NNBA encourages nurse innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
We were the first nursing organization to offer nurses the chance to pitch their ideas from the stage to a panel of accomplished nurse business leaders, and we salute the courageous nurses who step up to the plate with fantastic ideas worthy of our attention.
As NNBA President Michelle Podlesni stated, “It’s essential that nurses become comfortable promoting their products, services, or programs. Communicating their innovative idea, proof of market, and competitive advantage prepares them for the realities of the marketplace. In fact, I already have interested nurses keen to pitch from the stage in 2020.”
With five years of Shark Tank behind us, we want to highlight the inspiring nature of the 2019 competition. Always an attendee favorite, Shark Tank again generated excitement, camaraderie, community, and a sense that the possibilities for nurse innovation are endless.
The (Friendly) Sharks
Our 2019 sharks were three highly esteemed nurses who demonstrate their intelligence and success on the national and international stage. We are grateful for their attention and insight, and they deserve to be recognized for their service to the nursing community writ large.
Donna Cardillo, MA, RN, CSP, FAAN is “The Inspiration Nurse”. She travels the world as a keynote speaker, columnist, author, and cut-up who helps individuals to be happy in their lives and careers and reach their full potential. Her career combines over 25 years of clinical, managerial, and business experience. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Find her on LinkedIn.
Dr. Louise Jakubik is a pediatric nursing and workforce development expert, consultant, and author dedicated to building and developing nurses in clinical practice and leadership. Louise is a leading authority on the pediatric nursing certification review process, pediatric laboratory interpretation, nursing career development, and mentoring. Find her on LinkedIn.
Dr. Scharmaine Lawson is a nationally recognized nurse practitioner in New Orleans and has appeared on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and other media venues. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year award from the ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioner Magazine. Dr. Lawson is also the author of the Nola the Nurse children’s book series that teaches children about the nursing profession. Find her on LinkedIn.
Introducing the NNBA 2019 Shark Tank Competition Contestants
Standing on stage and delivering a compelling pitch to three famous nurse entrepreneurs is no small task, and this year’s contestants rose to the occasion with remarkable poise.
“What I really appreciated from this year’s event was the range of products and services,” said Michelle Podlesni. “From wearable technology and a franchised service model to transitional case management and an innovative, educational model for an existing competency – it was amazing, and we can honestly say that the judges truly had their work cut out for them winnowing the contestants down to one winner.”
Terra Goodrich, RN, PCCN – the 2019 Shark Tank winner — pitched Transitional Cardiac Care, LLC, a company providing tele-health, cardiac education, and monitoring products and services. Through their proprietary Bluetooth-driven CardioTrack™ Monitoring and Online Education Portal, they accurately monitor patients’ vital signs and identify concerning trends.
Rhonda Adam, DNP, RN pitched WatchGuard, a wearable technology providing continuous collection, monitoring, processing, and displaying of personal healthcare information that pre-warns adverse cardiac health events. WatchGuard is worn continuously, with a primary objective of reducing recurring cardiac events by utilizing smart watch technology.
Heather Wilson, RN, CFCS pitched Everyday Divinity Foot Care. Ms. Wilson witnessed the lack of resources available to seniors for routine foot care, including lack of health insurance coverage for non-diabetics. Everyday Divinity fills this void by providing on-site care in a variety of settings such as senior centers, assisted living, physician offices, and patient’s homes.
Susan Davis, MSN, RN, PMD pitched CodePRep, a system offering resuscitation training accessed through the CodePRep app. The three levels of training include: 1) Grassroots, an affordable option for teaching communities and laypeople that they are indeed first responders; 2) Influencer, which includes the CodePRep train-the-trainer BLS courses; and 3) Executive, a training system including BLS, ACLS, or PALS for hospitals and educational institutions.
The NNBA Shark Tank: A Rising Tide
Our judges reflected that it was extremely difficult to choose a winner due to such compelling presentations. In fact, when the scoring was calculated, the contestants were within tenths of a point of one another, making this the closest NNBA Shark Tank Competition ever.
If one were to pan through the audience with a video camera during Shark Tank, you would observe nurses cheering their colleagues with enthusiasm. Despite the competitive nature of Shark Tank, the room is consistently permeated with camaraderie, kindness, and a “all for one and one for all” mentality. The NNBA is about the rising tide lifting all boats, and Shark Tank proves this year after year, including in the supportive rapport between the contestants themselves.
Overall, the NNBA Shark Tank Competition is a powerful platform promoting and encouraging nursing innovation, and the prizes of money, expert coaching, and other support moves the winners closer to their ultimate success. Healthy competition spurs innovation, and we can celebrate that nursing innovation is happily on fire in this second decade of the fast-moving 21st century.