Mendoza School of Business

Good time for great ideas: Notre Dame Business Plan Competition taking submissions

Published: October 29, 2009 / Author: Carol Newswriting

Entrepreneurs have an opportunity to win up to a total of $40,000 in cash prizes during the 2009-10 Notre Dame Business Plan Competition, hosted by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Deadline for round one submissions is Nov. 9 (Monday).

The Notre Dame Business Plan Competition is composed of both the 10th annual McCloskey Business Plan for for-profit ventures that have not yet been launched or are at the earliest stage of launch, and the ninth annual Social Venture Plan for ventures with a social or environmental purpose. Eligible teams must have at least one member who is a Notre Dame student or alumnus.

“There has always been a strong spirit of entrepreneurship in our country, and this spirit is no less evident than in the students and alums representing all colleges at Notre Dame,” said Melissa Paulsen, social and micro venturing programs manager for the Gigot Center. “The Notre Dame Business Plan competition gives a real leg up to those who enter because of the mentoring and networking opportunities with our alumni and IrishAngel Network members, even if they don’t walk away with the grand prize.”

Round one submissions consist of entering a two-page overview of a new venture plus seven to nine supporting PowerPoint slides. In late February, teams chosen to advance to round two will be required to submit a full business plan. Teams selected from this semifinalist round will move into the final event in late April, when the would-be entrepreneurs travel to campus to give oral presentations of their plans. Winners of the $15,000 cash prize for the McCloskey competition and of the $15,000 prize for the Social Venture Plan will be announced, as well as other prize money awards. Members of IrishAngels, a select group of entrepreneurs within the Notre Dame community who support new venture creation, will serve as judges and mentors for the competition.

If the competition’s precursor event is any indication, the enthusiasm and the participation will be at all-time high levels this year. Attendance at the second annual Ideas Challenge held Sept. 30 at the Mendoza College of Business was more than 140 aspiring entrepreneurs – four times the expected number.

“The evening was a great celebration of ideas and innovation,” said Karen Slaggert, program manager for the Notre Dame Business Plan Competitions. “Given the great response we had for this kickoff event, we are very excited, confident that the competitions this year will continue to build upon the energy and enthusiasm present during the Ideas Challenge. We were especially pleased that so many different colleges within the University were represented: engineering, science, architecture, arts and letters and business students – both undergraduate and graduate – participated in the challenge. We look forward to an exciting year.”

The Ideas Challenge participants had 90 seconds to present their ideas in an “elevator pitch” format. More than 40 ideas were pitched, including Team LED Zeppelin, an idea for using LED markers to teach musical instruments to beginners. Team members Matt Prelee, Jon Altenburger, Rob Jones and Arthur Kinsey, all Notre Dame seniors, came up with the idea for the guitar from their senior design project for the electrical engineering program.

Other ideas ranged from a Web site to help high school students manage their own businesses, to a 3-D scanner. On the whole, said Paulsen, there was a balance between the for-profit and the social ventures.

“Many would-be entrepreneurs might use the current economy as a reason not to consider a new business,” Slaggert said. “In fact, depressed economies are ripe for innovative ideas and business models, a fact which has been demonstrated throughout history. There has never been a better time to start the business planning process, and with the resources available through the Notre Dame Business Plan Competitions, we expect to see a plethora of business ideas, both traditional and those interested in social impact.”

More information about the competition is available on the Web at


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