Mendoza School of Business

Marian High School student wins 2008 Invention Convention

Published: April 25, 2008 / Author: Carol Newswriting

A plan for a customized car audio installation service won Marian High School junior Christopher Rodriguez first place and a cash prize of $500 in the Invention Convention Youth Business Plan Competition. The event, held April 21 in the Giovanini Commons of Mendoza College of Business, was sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in conjunction with the Robinson Community Learning Center, a neighborhood center in South Bend, Ind., that offers educational programs and activities.

In its sixth year, the competition is the culmination of a year-long program through which Notre Dame faculty and students teach business and entrepreneurship fundamentals to local high school youth. Finalists are middle and high school students from the South Bend Community School Corp. and other local schools. Their ventures are judged on the feasibility of the idea and development of the plan. Notre Dame MBA and undergraduate students serve as mentors and event judges.

Rodriguez, 17, got the idea for his car audio business from work he’s done installing systems for friends and family, and on his own car, which he calls his “grand experiment.” He got involved with the entrepreneurship program through a one-week training program offered in partnership with La Casa de Amistad, a local organization serving immigrants and their families in the community. Rodriguez plans to operate out his business of his home at first before expanding to regional market. 

Brandon Johnson from Clay High School won second place with his plan for “Straight Faded Barber Shop,” another business idea springing from services already performed for friends, classmates and family. Brandon intends to operate out of an existing shop and to attend barber school this fall.

The complete list of 2008 Invention Convention winners and prizes is as follows:

  • First Place ($500) – Christopher Rodriguez ( Marian High School) for “Rodriguez Audio Specialists”
  • Second Place ($300) – Brandon Johnson ( Clay High School) for “Straight Faded Barber Shop”
  • Third ($200) – Alexandra Soisson ( John Adams High School) for “Planned Partyhood”
  • Best Presentation ($100) – Jonathan Brown ( Clay High School) for “Creative Concierge Services”
  • Most Innovative Idea ($100) – Phyllis Johnson ( Clay Middle School) for “Dance N’ Diamonds”

For more information about the Invention Convention or Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, contact Jessica McManus Warnell, Mendoza College of Business, (574) 631-9182,



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