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Idea for device to alert homeowners of problems wins Shark Tank contest

Pictured, from left: Sergio Castella, dean of the Porter B. Byrum School of Business; Arantxa Wallace, first place winner; and Sam Spencer, adjunct professor who teaches entrepreneurship and heads up the competition. Photos by Wingate University

WINGATE – Arantxa Wallace’s “HutHealth” won first place and a $2,000 cash prize in Wingate University’s second annual Shark Tank competition, held Thursday night in LaVerne Banquet Hall.

The Venezuela native presented the “sharks” with her vision of a smart-home device that would detect costly problems at a homeowner’s property. Judges were Shante Williams, CEO of Black Pearl Global Investments; Charlie Malouf, CEO of Broad River Retail; and Matt Villmer, an attorney with Villmer Caudill Law firm.

“Everything started when I was working with my husband, who is in the real estate business,” Wallace said. “One of his clients’ houses was flooded, but the owner didn’t find out until weeks later. That’s when we came up with the idea of a device that alerts homeowners that there is something wrong with the property and they need to take care of it.”

Wallace, a business management major at Wingate, is planning to offer the device with an initial purchase price of $299 and a $9.99 monthly subscription for the corresponding app.

“Why is nobody doing it yet?” wondered Malouf, which led fellow judges to ask more questions about the development of technology for such a device and the correlating financial details.

“HutHealth” is still in the early stages, but Wallace had enough details to convince the judges that it could be a success.

“Her business plan is incredible and well thought out,” Villmer said. “She merged two different services together with the ultimate goals of helping homeowners.”

Gracie Stinson’s “Mills Bottom Farms,” already a going concern, won second place and $1,000.

The business management major from Anson County impressed the judges with her story of how she started her business at 10 years old and grew it into an all-natural, non-GMO, USDA-certified, Animal Welfare Approved farm. Stinson started her business with a Farm Service Agency loan that she paid off in three years.


Stinson’s presentation won the hearts of the crowd and earned her an additional $250 audience choice prize. She plans to use her winnings to help build a store on her farm and to educate children about sustainable agriculture.

Featured earlier this year in a Business Department social media post highlighting student success, Stinson said then that her goal was to establish an environment that “promotes agricultural learning while also giving back to the community by providing clean, locally sourced meat.”

Stephen Hammonds, who attends Stanly Community College, where he won a similar competition earlier this month, came in third in Wingate’s Shark Tank. His already patented invention of a TV mount for the healthcare industry targets people with limited mobility.

The Mount Pleasant, N.C., resident has already invested $10,000 in Stephen Hammonds LLC and claimed another $500 with his third-place finish. He will use the funds to help develop a prototype.

The fourth-place winner, Yasmine Sanchez, won $250 after pitching her idea for homemade custom cakes and providing a sample. The business management major from Monroe, N.C., has a passion for creating an enjoyable memory for each of her customers.

Sergio Castello, dean of Wingate’s Porter B. Byrum School of Business, which hosted the competition, was pleased with the students’ presentations and the turnout.

“The room was full, over 150 people tonight, and the presenters were very well prepared,” he said. “Next year we might have to put up 200 chairs.”

Prizes for the competition were funded by a grant from the John William Pope Foundation. The event also received support from NC IDEA.