The annual McCloskey Business Plan Competition included a "venture fair" this year, which drew more than 30 entrepreneurs.
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).
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
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.
addition to the top prizes named above, McCloskey Business Plan Competition awards
Park at Notre Dame Accelerator Award (up to $4,000 in space and consultation
services): all 12 semifinalist teams
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
Social Venture R&D Award ($7,000 in cash and in-kind services): Zambia
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
Alto Software (More than $10,000 in LivePlan online business planning access;
$2,000 for best written student plans): Tmber.com and Markover
Nanotechnology Venture ($5,000 award): tie, Blue Water Bioproducts and LiteSprite
and Play Tech Center Startup Camp Award ($15,000 in in-kind services (immersion
startup experience in Silicon Valley)): Markover, MyFit and Next Payment
& Richardson Award for IP Services ($20,000 in Intellectual Property
services): MyFit, with a special award of $4,000 given to Hands+on
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.
more information about the Gigot Center, call (574) 631-3042 or visit