The Youngstown Business Incubator is hoping YBI Shark Tank 2023 is its biggest one yet.

A kickoff party was held at Double Bogey's at the Southern Park Mall Thursday where this years celebrity sharks were introduced and it was announced that applications for the competition and sponsorships are now available.

YBI Shark Tank is much like the one on national television where individuals or companies compete to earn a spot to pitch their product or idea to the sharks and in front of a live audience.

While the winners can receive prizes up to $10,000, the goal is to promote entrepreneurship and economic development throughout the Mahoning Valley and Northeast Ohio.

"When you think about entrepreneurship, you're talking about individuals who have a dream and they're under-capitalized," Herb Washington, a local entrepreneur and celebrity shark said. "This community of Youngstown has an opportunity to help those folks realize their dreams."

"It's been so helpful for companies, even companies that haven't won have really gotten great visibility out of it, great traction, so just because you don't win, doesn't mean you won't be able to get your product launched, that is what we are here for, so whether you have an existing business or a startup, we want to at least talk to you to see if we can get you through the process," Barb Ewing, CEO of YBI said.

This years celebrity sharks include:

Marty Bushey – Partner in Aztec Capital and an Attorney
Danny Catullo – Founder of Perishable Shipping Solutions and now VP of Ecommerce at PPX Hospitality Brands
Chris Davis – Entrepreneur and local restauranteur including West 34 and El Cowboy
John Masternick – President and CEO of Windsor House
Ellie Platt – Owner and President of Platt Insurance
Herb Washington – Entrepreneur

Applications for the YBI Shark Tank event are open until August 1st. Just go to ybi.org/sharktank.

You can also find sponsorship opportunities for the event. YBI is looking for businesses to sponsor the event which has become a major fundraiser for YBI. Last year, nearly 600 people attended the event and they raised $236,000. The goal this year is to raise $300,000.

YBI Shark Tank 2023 will be Thursday, October 19th from 5-9 p.m. at Mr. Anthony's in Boardman.

Entrepreneurs selected must be available to present their pitches in person at the event.

Contact [email protected] with any questions.