Mendoza School of Business

ND team wins “Collegiate Idol” business competition

Published: November 13, 2007 / Author: Carol Newswriting

An aftermarket product that transforms an ordinary window into an energy-efficient window won its inventors the $10,000 grand prize in the inaugural “Indiana Collegiate Idol” business competition.

Team SolarShade, composed of University of Notre Dame students Will McLeod (ND ’08), Ryan Tatzel (ND ’08) and Danielle Truskowski (ND ’08) and 2007 graduate Michael Stacey (MBA ’07), took first in the Nov. 8 event for designing a technology that transforms windows and skylights into “smart windows” with changeable glazes at the touch of a button. SolarShade bested 15 other collegiate entries from across the state.

“The competition was bigger and stronger than we expected,” McLeod said. “It was really exciting to discover that everything we’ve been trained in and taught inside the Notre Dame bubble held up so well in the real world.”

This is the third in a string of successes for the SolarShade team, which last spring won the McCloskey Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. SolarShade also was awarded a $14,500 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance last summer. The funds will be used to further develop the patent and research, McLeod said.

“The Gigot Center is proud of the accomplishments of these students who took advantage of every opportunity we offered to gain valuable education, mentorship and assistance throughout their entrepreneurial journey,” said James Davis, director of the Gigot Center. “They were present at virtually every training session we sponsored, capitalized on the willingness of assigned mentors to work with them, and worked very hard to hone their presentation and their business over the past year.”

McLeod and Tatzel are seniors in the College of Engineering and Truskowski, also a senior, majors in marketing and film, television and theatre. Stacey was graduated from Notre Dame last spring with a master of business administration degree.

“Collegiate Idol” is a state-sponsored competition aimed at bringing new business ideas to Indiana. Entrepreneurship students showcase their product or service before an audience of angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The fast-paced competition was conducted in the style of the “American Idol” television show and gave teams a chance to gain exposure and find financial backers with the hope of bringing new ideas to market.

Contact: Daniel Buckenmeyer, associate director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, at (574) 631-3543 or



Topics: Undergrad