AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)-“So, we’ve helped over 200 businesses start and grow in Augusta and they’ve created 1500 jobs in the community” said Eric Parker Founder and President, The

A real-life- ‘Shark Tank’ experience. The in Augusta is preparing nine entrepreneurs to start their business. The owners have to pitch to potential financial backers.

They also have to promote their concept to community leaders. And there’s a 2-minute time limit.

Some even start from scratch….

“Just thinking about the things that I like to do and the way I like to help people and found like that’s my niche relationship I build in the community resources that I have access to I was like oh I can help more people than  just the person that I was working for,” said Tonia Gibbons, Farr More and Associates.

Parker says they help entrepreneurs build their business from the ground up. They map out every detail to become successful.  

“We really help them understand who their customers and how they’re going to solve a problem for them as well as then develop their full business plan marketing plan and help them get capital for their business,” said Parker.

And for other business owners who have succeeded in the shark tank, their goal is to not only grow, but build a safe space for people in the community.

“Have the confidence and be sure in what you want to do but also have the community around you so you can have someone to rely on and just have grit and go after what you want,” said Arkia Ivy, Phoenix Candle Co.

“I find very much comfort with the program I have not only learned to become a partner in a partnership, but I have met some wonderful people here,” said Joanne Williams, AKUA, New York Deli Style Sandwiches.

This is a 12 week program. Once they have graduated, they get six months free office space at The, with other opportunities– but the goal is to get funding.