Muggles, Jimmy John’s, Gatorade and a 105-year-old family business

Author: Carol Elliott

Muggles, Jimmy John’s, Gatorade and a 105-year-old family business

The lineup of speakers for the 2012 Entrepreneurial Insights series at the University of Notre Dame includes a broad range of expertise and ventures, from Emerson Spartz, the founder of a popular Harry Potter website, to Jimmy John Liautaud of the sandwich-chain fame, to social entrepreneurs who blazed new paths in using business as a force for good.

The annual fall speaker series, organized by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at the Mendoza College of Business, features entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and business leaders who offer their experience and advice in areas critical to the creation of new ventures, the ongoing viability of existing business, economic growth and the betterment of society.

Lectures are held on select Tuesdays from 5-6:15 p.m. in the Mendoza College’s Jordan Auditorium and include a Q&A session at the end of the talk. The series is free and open to the public, as well as the students, faculty and staff of the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College community.

The entrepreneurs represent industries including retail, solar energy, food, manufacturing, consumer products, travel and financial services.

“We have a powerful mix of entrepreneurs – serial, corporate and social – from a broad base of industries and types of businesses, from young to well-established,” said Michael Vogel, entrepreneur-in-residence and instructor at the Gigot Center. “The talks provide a great opportunity to learn first-hand from people who have navigated the startup experience and continue to lead ventures on scales that range from local to global, digital to bricks-and-mortar, small to employing thousands.”

Additional speakers include Sarah Robb O’Hagan, former president of both Gatorade North America and Pepsico Global Sports Nutrition who recently accepted the position of president of Equinox fitness chain; and Chuck Allen, executive chairman of 105-year-old Sloan Valve Company, along with his three sons who serve as co-presidents and CEOs in the family business.

Three speakers have developed successful social ventures, which is a type of entrepreneurship gaining increasing attention as individuals look for ways to impact social issues through commercial enterprise. Examples include Better World Books, which was founded by three Notre Dame students, and Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), a venture founded by a Notre Dame alumna that is dedicated to women’s hygienic needs in developing countries. SHE recently won the prestigious Curry Stone Design Prize.

The complete Entrepreneurial Insights schedule is as follows:

·        Aug. 21: Michael J. Vogel, entrepreneur-in-residence for the Gigot Center; “Welcome to Entrepreneurial Insights Lecture Series”

·        Aug. 28: Michael J. Vogel, entrepreneur-in-residence for the Gigot Center; “Thinking Like an Entrepreneur”

·        Sept. 4: David Brenner, executive director of Innovation Park at Notre Dame; “Innovation Park and Entrepreneurial Business Creation.” The talk will include presentations from three Innovation Park startup ventures.

·        Sept. 11: Charles DelGrande, managing director of Global Head-Technology, Media and Interactive Services at C.W. Downer & Co.; “The Top Nine Habits of Wildly Successful Technology Entrepreneurs”

·        Sept. 18: Chuck Allen, executive chairman of Sloan Valve Company, and sons Jim, Graham and Kirk, all co-CEOs and co-presidents; “Keeping a 105-Year-Old Family Business Innovative and Entrepreneurial”

·        Sept. 25: Frank J. Belatti, managing partner and co-founder of Equicorp Partners, along with Michael Belatti, research analyst for Equicorp, and Melissa Paulsen, program manager of social entrepreneurship for the Gigot Center; “Social Entrepreneurship: The Practical Side and New Business Models for Developing Economies”

·        Oct. 2: Emerson Spartz, CEO of Spartz Media and founder of; “Spartz: How it Became a Successful Business and What is Next?”

·        Oct. 9: Jimmy John Liautaud, founder and CEO of Jimmy John’s; “My Story: Jimmy John Liautaud: Founder of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches”

·        Oct. 23: Elizabeth Scharpf, founder and chief instigating officer of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE); “SHE: Beginning, Now and the Future”

·        Oct. 30: Sarah Robb O’Hagan, president of Equinox fitness chain; former president of Gatorade and global sports nutrition at PepsiCo

·        Nov. 6: T.J. Kanczuzewski, founding member and president of Inovateus Solar LLC; “How We are Managing a Rapidly Growing Solar Energy Startup”

·        Nov. 13: John C. Kennedy, founder, president and CEO of Autocam Corporation; “Being a Serial Entrepreneur”

·        Nov. 27: John Anthony, founder, president and CEO of Anthony Travel; “Taking Care of Our Customers: From Notre Dame Football in Ireland, to Duke Basketball in Dubai and Everywhere Else”

·        Dec. 4: Christopher “Kreece” Fuchs, co-founder and vice president of global logistics at Better World Books, along with Andrew Perlmutter, president and CEO, and David Murphy, former president and CEO; “Better World Books: The Start, the Growth, the Future”

More information about the series, including speaker bios, is available online at