Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita restaurant owner appearing on 'Shark Tank'-style show starring Danica Patrick

IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick is one of the judges at "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch." Next week's episode will feature an appearance by a Wichita entrepreneur.
IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick is one of the judges at "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch." Next week's episode will feature an appearance by a Wichita entrepreneur.

It's not "Shark Tank," but it's not too far off.

Next week, Wichita's J.D. Young, owner of Funky Monkeys Shaved Ice 21 + in Union Station, will appear on an episode of "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch." The digital series, which is in its second season on the website for Entrepreneur magazine, features entrepreneurs from around the country pitching their business ideas to a panel of prominent investors, including IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick.

In business lingo, an "elevator pitch" is a short and persuasive description of a business idea.

Young, who opened his alcoholic shaved ice business last year, was invited to travel to Los Angeles to pitch an idea for expansion of his business to a panel of investors. He still doesn't know how the show's producers got his name, but he says he's glad they did.

He traveled there in March for filming and said he was amazed when he entered the room and saw Patrick in front of him. She wasn’t the only hard-hitter on the panel, though. He also pitched his idea to Peter Goldberg, a big-time California investor; Dave Meltzer, the CEO of Sports 1 Marketing; and businessman Jeff Klinefelter.

New episodes are released every Wednesday, and Young knows his is up next because he can be seen at the very end of the last episode, titled "Self-Made Self-Care." The clip, a preview for the next episode, shows Young jumping up and down with joy on the show's titular elevator.

Young said he can't reveal exactly what happened when he faced the investors, but he said he's still in weekly communication with them to discuss ways to expand his adult shaved ice brand into other markets.

"It was a blast. It was a huge experience, that's for sure," Young said. "It's the closest thing to 'Shark Tank' I'd probably get on, and it definitely helped me develop connections."

The episode featuring Young should appear on the website Entrepreneur.com on Wednesday morning.

Rolled ice cream has arrived in Wichita and people are waiting in long lines to get it. (Denise Neil / The Wichita Eagle)

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