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Entrepreneur to give speech at Juniata

The Daily News
November 16, 2011

Business and venture capitalists are always looking for the next big idea. Juniata College’s Accounting, Business and Economics Department (ABE), Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL) and Young Entrepreneur’s Society (YES) are sponsoring a talk by a former contestant who appeared on the ABC television show “Shark Tank.”

Michael Barnett is a 1989 Juniata graduate and is co-founder/CEO of Romp ‘n Roll: a chain of early childhood development centers based in Glen Allen, Va. Barnett, along with his wife, Babz, started Romp ‘n Roll in 2004 as a gym that offers gymnastics, art and music play opportunities for young children. The company began franchising its stores shortly thereafter and now has outlets in five state and Puerto Rico. Mike and Babz appeared on “Shark Tank” in January 2010. The program is a reality show where entrepreneurs bring ideas or business concepts to the show and five successful business people, “the sharks,” judge the concepts, then decide whether they want to invest in the idea/company. If they do, they offer to invest in the venture and state how much of a financial stake/equity they want in exchange for their money. The Barnetts ultimately turned down an offer of $300,000 from one of “the Sharks” in return for 51 percent ownership stake in their company. “Before the show ended, we started getting leads. If we can make a couple of them work, that’s better than the $300,000,” Barnett told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Barnett started his career in radio marketing, working at Malrite Communications and WNNK-FM in Harrisburg. He was director of the promotions group at CBS Radio from 1995 to 1998 and was a senior vice president at Chancellor Media from 1998 to 2000. Before establishing the business, Barnett was a principal in Power Pact marketing, a Dallas, Texas-based marketing firm.

The event is slated for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Room C-225 in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus. The talk is open to the public, although seating is limited. Juniata will be transmitting live streaming video of the event, beginning at 7 p.m., at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/jcellive.