Faculty & Departments

Management NEWS

Notre Dame business competition fosters innovation

by YaVonda Smalls, Staff Writer
Publication: South Bend Tribune

May 19, 2009

Business Chart


Imagine this.

An on-the-go dining service that offers high quality foods. Or a service that provides feminine sanitary products for women in developing countries.

Some University of Notre Dame students and graduates are doing more than imagining it. They want to turn it into reality.

That's why the creators of both ideas competed — and took away some key honors recently — in a business plan competition at the University of Notre Dame.

A vision for the next evolution in fast-casual dining won its creators the grand prize and $15,000 in the McCloskey Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

During the same event, a plan to manufacture and distribute feminine sanitary products in developing countries took the grand prize and $15,000 in the Social Venture Plan.

The results were announced recently at the close of the two-day final event held at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, where six teams competed for the top spots in the two competitions.

"The ability to have students be creative and take an idea and build it into a specific plan is a great practice — it's great exercise," said Patrick Barry, senior director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Notre Dame. "Once they have that experience, they'll be better equipped to drive change in whatever position they go into."

The McCloskey Business Plan Competition is geared toward traditional entrepreneurial ventures that have not yet been launched or are at the earliest stage of launch. Meanwhile, the Social Venture Plan Competition is an opportunity to combine entrepreneurship with a social mission or purpose.

McCloskey winner modMarket was founded by Robert McColgan, a 2002 Notre Dame graduate, and Anthony Pigliacampo. McColgan and Pigliacampo expect their concept to take advantage of major cultural and demographic shifts occurring in the United States. They plan to launch modMarket later this year.

The runner-up position went to GreenYard, a sustainable business venture aimed at reclaiming lost land and raw materials consumed by modern-day auto scrap yards.

Social Venture grand prize winner Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) aims to promote the education and employment of women in developing countries by providing inexpensive, quality feminine sanitary products. Girls and women in these countries miss school or work — up to 50 days per year — due to lack of access to affordable products.

The SHE team included Elizabeth Scharpf, a 1999 Notre Dame graduate, and Anielka Munkel, Eddah Okuthe and Vanessa Rodriguez, all 2009 MBA candidates.

The runner-up in this category was Sprout learn-n-grow, which brings age-appropriate science programs to children in pre- and early elementary school.

The Gigot competition began in the fall with more than 200 students participating. Prize money this year totaled more than $40,000.

###