Briar Cliff University student Anthony Rossi is shown with his moped in the Historic Fourth Street entertainment district in Sioux City. Rossi recently won $500 at the annual "Swimming with the Sharks" entrepreneurship contest. Photo courtesy Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Anthony Rossi has been swimming with the sharks. But not the kind you might find in deep oceans; the kind that can make or break your business idea.
Rossi, 27, was one of eight winners in this year's "Swimming with the Sharks" competition sponsored by Sioux City Growth Organization and held at Briar Cliff University. The competition was based on the popular reality TV show "Shark Tank," which pits entrepreneurs against each other in front of a panel of potential investors.
“One of my best friends was killed by a drunk driver ... That really showed me that drinking and driving doesn't mix.”
— Entrepreneur Anthony Rossi
Rossi won $500 for his new business, Double D's Driving Service, which, starting next weekend will provide a driving service as well as pedicab rides.
Double D's stands for "designated driver."
Rossi, a BCU human resources management master's student, said the idea for his business came easily. He was always a designated driver for his friends, he said, and it seemed like a good idea as a moneymaker.
"When I was a senior in high school, one of my best friends was killed by a drunk driver," he said. "That really showed me that drinking and driving doesn't mix."
Double D's drivers will arrive to pick up the late-night reveler, and then will drive them, and their vehicle, back home. They'll then hop on customized mopeds -- which can be folded and stored inside the trunk of a car -- returning to their initial location, ready to pick up another fare.
Rossi said he's always dreamed of starting his own business.
"I've been coming up with new business ideas since I was in elementary school," Rossi said. "Not all of the concepts were good but I was still out there swinging."
Luckily, Rossi had the encouragement of Briar Cliff business administration professor Judy Thompson, who says her student has "a true entrepreneurial spirit."
"Most students go to college with the hopes of landing their dream job," Thompson said. "Anthony is going to college in order to create his own dream job."