Almost immediately upon launching in 2015, Spark Tank quickly became one of our school’s signature programs, fueling students’ ideas, imagination, and ingenuity. With each passing trimester, more and more students dive into Spark Tank to develop products, businesses, and non-profits of their own imagining.
Last year, we had a record number of 76 participants: Lower School students worked on mini-Tank projects during lunchtime and 20 presented their ideas at mini-Tank events; Middle and Upper Schoolers did so after school ― and all demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit. Some students returned as veterans to continue their progress through the five-stage development cycle, from idea to market launch; others began work on novel concepts for the first time.
With Spark Tank as such an integral part of life at Dwight, we tend to forget it didn’t always exist! The vision for Spark Tank ― to foster entrepreneurial, innovation, and leadership skills beyond the classroom for K-12 students ― was introduced at The Dwight School Foundation’s 2015 Spring Benefit and was quickly embraced by our community. It kicked off in earnest the following fall, thanks to the leadership of the Spark Tank Committee’s Founding Chair, Dave Lindsey (David ’18, Maggie ’19, JackieRay ’21). His personal commitment to nurturing student entrepreneurial sparks contributed much to their success and to making Spark Tank one of Dwight’s unique calling cards.
Last fall, Mr. Lindsey passed the torch to fellow Committee member Nuno Teles (Madalena ’19, Maria ’22, Ines ’25), who had also been a dedicated mentor and judge since the program’s very beginning. Mr. Lindsey has stayed on as a judge and the next generation of Spark Tank took flight under the stewardship of Mr. Teles, President of Diagio Beer Co USA.
Also of note during the 2018-19 year was the return to campus of two of the most prolific Spark Tank presenters to date: Daniil Frants ’17 and Ilan Pesselev ’18. Both attend NYU and each took a seat on the Spark Tank judges’ panel to contribute and give back. They, too, had sought Spark Tank feedback, mentorship, and innovation grants to develop and launch their projects. Drawing on their experiences “on the other side” of the panel, Daniil and Ilan shared lessons they had learned along the way.
Some Spark Tank participants took to the stage more than once to present as individuals and as collaborators in group projects. Four students reached the launch stage and received a $2,500 scholarship (indicated with an asterisk):
- Anish Bardhan ’20 | The Bardhan Ruler
- Ishani Chakravorty ’20 | phobeX app
- Luca Daly ’21* | Daffodils in Paradise
- Tommaso de Donato ’21 | Horus
- Killian Terisse Flagg ’21 | RetraBoard
- Stephane Hatgis-Kessell ’20 | The Hephaestus Hand
- Adam Kaplan ’23 | District 12 NYC
- Charlotte Kabelac ’20 | Grounded (formerly ReCoff)
- Maggie Lindsey ’19* | What the F4 Blog
- Alessandro Pesaresi ’21 | Beyond Pesa Furniture
- Kirin Sawasdikosol ’20 | Dwight Activism Club
- Kate Schlein ’20* | Fan-tasy Club
- Jordan Sotomayor ’21* | Weekend Business Academy
- Elaine Song ’20 | NanoSpark
- Chloe Trujillo ’21 | InterActivism app
- Anish Bardhan ’20 and Stephane Hatgis-Kessell ’20 | Citizen Prep app
- Anish Bardhan ’20 and Teddy Koutsos ’20 | StrEat
- Anoushna Bardhan ’22 and Sonya Pesselev ’22 | Bloom Cards
- Victoria Buendia-Serrano ’23, Amelia Gayle ’23, Vlad Kolotnikov ’23, and Benjamin O'Connor ’23 | Redesigning the Performing Arts Center
- Justin Chen ’21 and Jordan Sotomayor ’21 | Dwight Business Investment Club
- Benno Colodne ’19 and Alex Putzer ’20 | Outset
- Jordan Sotomayor ’21 and Calvin Yang ’21 | TEDX Dwight
We congratulate everyone who presented, and look forward to welcoming Spark Tank graduates back to share their entrepreneurial pursuits and to inspire younger students embarking on their own innovation paths!