Nearly $190,000 in cash and prizes were awarded on Friday (April 20) during the final event of the McCloskey Business Plan Competition held at the University of Notre Dame.
Sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship located in the Mendoza College of Business, the competition, which started in October, is for ventures that have not been launched or are in the earliest stages of launch.
The top three prize winners included:
· McCloskey Grand Prize ($20,000): Next Payment Solutions Inc., a digital fulfillment company specializing in online consumer promotion redemption and fulfillment. Team members include Matt Peterson (EMBA '04), Ryan Rodriguez, Jill Staszak and Robert Strong.
· Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact ($15,000): hands+on, a venture developing a therapy toy that is an interactive platform for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Team members include Dan Jacobs (BFA '11), Tushar Anand (MBA '13) and Concordio Vince-Cruz (MBA '13).
· Sutherland Family Award for Best Presentation ($5,000): MyFit, a proprietary technology that allows consumers to virtually try on clothing at the websites of their favorite retailers, which earned $5,000 as the runner-up to the McCloskey grand prize winner. Team members include John Rocha (BA '11), Caleb Atwood (BSEE '12), Aastha Jain and Richard E. Tillilie (BBA '11).
All told, prizes were given out in more than a dozen categories to ventures ranging from an outdoor adventure website to a developer of an environmentally friendly polyurethane resin. Organizers said that from the number of teams entered to the excitement levels during the final judging, this was the best event yet in the competition’s 12 year history.
“The atmosphere surrounding the McCloskey events this year was something really special,” said Karen Slaggert, associate director for the Gigot Center. “There was an energy in the room, an excitement that we haven’t seen before. As one of our final judges said to me, we’ve taken a quantum leap in the quality and sophistication of the McCloskey ventures.”
A total of 131 teams entered the McCloskey Competition last fall. Nearly 800 members of the Notre Dame community served as team members, judges and mentors—an increase of 30 percent over the previous year. The final event also included a Venture Fair, which was a science-fair type exhibit where more than 30 entrepreneurs put their ventures on display.
Slaggert noted other competition trends, such as an increasing number of women entering the competition and leading entrepreneurial teams. And the ventures themselves are much more sophisticated, she said. “We’ve seen such a difference in the types of ventures: a move from fewer ‘lifestyle’ ventures (restaurants and retail), to much more sophisticated technologies involving nanoparticle analysis, diagnostic devices, polyurethane resins, pharmaceuticals, online media innovations and software applications.”
The McCloskey Competition also has taken on a unique role in the commercialization pipeline at Notre Dame, helping to move these high-tech ventures to commercialization from their genesis in research. The Gigot Center helps to provide the necessary resources—an entrepreneurial toolkit of software, mentoring, networking and feedback— to develop a business model and create a business plan.
In addition to the top prizes named above, McCloskey Business Plan Competition awards included:
· Innovation Park at Notre Dame Accelerator Award (up to $4,000 in space and consultation services): all 12 semifinalist teams
· Office of Technology Transfer Awards (up to $10,000 in patent reimbursement awarded to the ND Technology with Best Commercial Potential): Tie: awarded to LiteSprite (Laser Transmission Spectroscopy) and Health Games
· FISH Social Venture R&D Award ($7,000 in cash and in-kind services): Zambia Briquettes
· Bernel Investment Management LLC Best Bootstrap Award ($2,000 for best undergraduate or graduate student team that can achieve the objectives outlined in its business plan with less than $100,000 in external financing): Tmber.com
· Palo Alto Software (More than $10,000 in LivePlan online business planning access; $2,000 for best written student plans): Tmber.com and Markover
· Best Nanotechnology Venture ($5,000 award): tie, Blue Water Bioproducts and LiteSprite
· Plug and Play Tech Center Startup Camp Award ($15,000 in in-kind services (immersion startup experience in Silicon Valley)): Markover, MyFit and Next Payment Solutions
· Fish & Richardson Award for IP Services ($20,000 in Intellectual Property services): MyFit, with a special award of $4,000 given to Hands+on
The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies was founded in 1998 for the purpose of fostering innovation and infusing aspiring entrepreneurs with a sense of the possible. Through rigorous coursework, our business plan competitions, extensive networking and mentorship, and hands-on learning experiences, we provide students with the knowledge and skills vital to entrepreneurship.
For more information about the Gigot Center, call (574) 631-3042 or visit business.nd.edu/Gigot_Center/.