Gigot Center

Competition Perspectives

Andy Steves
"Competing in the McCloskey Business Plan Competition has been a great learning experience. It has allowed me to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship while still completing my other majors in design and Italian language and literature. While developing the concept, I've learned to bring in quality teammates to complete a wide range of complimentary skill sets. I believe this is what allowed us to get the Weekend Student Adventures Abroad business model to the point where it is today. It also has allowed us to thoroughly vet this idea with an array of distinguished professionals with all sorts of backgrounds, and get their real world opinions on the best way to progress from here. As we received advice from our mentor, and feedback from the judges at each round of the Competition, we addressed each and adjusted our business plan. My small and tight WSA team is moving forward with turning this vision into a reality within the next year. With all the help we’ve received from the Gigot Center, we are confident that WSA is going places."

Andy Steves (BA, BFA 2010)
Team leader, Weekend Student Adventures Abroad 2010 Winner,
McCloskey Business Plan Competition
Gerome Sapp  
"Participating in the Gigot Business Plan Competition was extremely rewarding for us in many ways. Having some of the most creative and brightest minds in the world critique and constructively question some of the key assumptions we held to be true within our business plan proved to be not only needed, but greatly appreciated as we move forward. Being able to take this feedback and intelligently mold a business model that would not only breed success, but also make a positive environmental and social impact along the way was also invaluable. Competing against other brilliant teams with innovative ideas allowed us to see just how strong the spirit of competition is at Notre Dame. But probably the most rewarding component of the competition for us was to have the Notre Dame community genuinely appreciate our business concept and wholeheartedly stand behind us with support as we move forward turning our concept into a viable business."

Gerome Sapp (BBA 2003)
Team Leader, Morph & Thro,
2010 Winner, Social Venture Competition

Perspectives from IrishAngels

Rick Klau
"The work as a business plan mentor and a plan judge in the McCloskey Plan Competition is very rewarding. The teams, both student and alumni, are passionate about their ideas, but are receptive to mentor feedback and input that gives them the benefit of the mentor’s business experience, and helps them sharpen their thinking. In judging we try to bring ‘real world’ challenges to the plans, knowing that candid and forthright exchanges are the best feedback as the teams work hard to answer questions and sell their ideas to build a product or a business."

Rick Klau
President, Hajoca Corporation
John Anthony
"It was a great joy to work with WSA over the past 12 months. Watching them turn an initial concept into a viable business plan was energizing and enriching. They are creative students, passionate entrepreneurs and eager listeners. I have received as much from them as I they have from me."

John Anthony (BBA 1986)
President/CEO, Anthony Travel
IrishAngels Network
Mentor, Weekend Student Adventures Abroad
Ray Petrino
"The highlight of becoming an IrishAngel has been the Business Plan Competition. The intensive format provides participants the opportunity to receive valuable mentoring and constructive feedback from top entrepreneurs across a variety of industries. The improved quality of the plans from year to year is proof that the program has been highly effective in inspiring creativity from the participants."

Ray Petrino President,
Hemera Financial Solutions
James Larkin
"The staff at the Gigot Center are always so appreciative of our efforts as judges and mentors. But if the truth is know, the IrishAngels get more back in return. The students' enthusiasm and creativity is infectious and we come away from the Business Plan Competitions each year energized and reminded of why we got into business."

James Larkin
Lark Investments LLC
Mike Vogel
"As an IrishAngel, the opportunity to serve as a mentor to a team of ND students and alumni in the Business Plan Competition is a great way to reconnect with the Mendoza College of Business. The team at the Gigot Center make it easy to get involved at a number of levels in the educational initiatives in entrepreneurship. I have found being involved over the last five years not only rewarding but a personal learning experience".

Mike Vogel

Retired Executive Vice President ACCO North America
Former President of Day-Timer, Acme Boot Company, and Jarman Shoe Company
Former Chairman of the Board, KidsPeace