When Ja-Naé Duane introduces entrepreneurship to students at the College of the Holy Cross, she doesn’t start by talking about business ideas, product development or marketing strategy. Rather, she tells students: “Pick a problem.”
Duane, an entrepreneur herself, explains: “A true ethical leader needs to look at all sides and as many perspectives as possible in order to build something that is not only sustainable, but is also sustainably good for humanity.”
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program is one of many initiatives within the Ciocca Center, which combines the power of a liberal arts education with experiential learning to shape the next generation of ethical leaders and critical thinkers — and has offerings open to students from all class years and majors.
One way students are getting that hands-on entrepreneurial experience is by running their own incubator, HC Launch. Using a holistic approach, the incubator focuses on bringing students’ business ideas to life.
What does it take to launch a startup and keep it running? Students had two opportunities during summer 2020 to explore the step-by-step process of starting a business and the strength of businesses that develop strategies and innovate. “Our Entrepreneurship workshop starts where every business should start: with building you as a leader and cultivating your skillset,” shares Ja-Naé Duane, entrepreneur-in-residence at Holy Cross. “From there, we dive into the factors that impact starting a business and showcase stories of businesses to illustrate that there is no one way to start or grow a business.”
The Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society at the College of the Holy Cross works with nearly one in six students, or about 500, to provide technical skills and hands-on experiences to complement the liberal arts education. Students from all majors, including Chemistry and Economics, to English and Studio Art, are encouraged to get involved as early as freshman year because you can major in anything and succeed in business.
This year, due to COVID-19, many seniors experienced the Business Ethics & Principled Leadership workshop through a virtual session. We appreciate their commitment to completing the program and flexibility as the Center quickly transferred the material to a digital platform.
My name is Katherine Kalill ’21. I’m a current junior at Holy Cross, majoring in Political Science with an Africana Studies concentration and working towards a Certificate in Entrepreneurship through the Ciocca Center.
I recently returned to campus after working under the programming team at CBS Sports in New York City. Living in the city also allowed me to explore the various new market opportunities available. As a result, I am interested in learning more about the future of entrepreneurship and what it takes to turn an idea into a prosperous business. In addition, I would love to research what people have found to be the most successful way to pitch ideas and what separates successful ideas from the rest in the increasingly competitive global world of business. I hope to explore potential strategies of growth and conclude principles that hold true across industries.
Through the Academic Internship Program this semester, I am taking a seminar called “Boards and CEOs: Governing America’s Businesses” with Professor Dan Ricciardi and interning at the Ciocca Center. In my time here, my focus is to identify alumni who embody the spirit of entrepreneurship through their business endeavors and identify how their liberal arts education has complimented their success.
Stay tuned to see Katherine’s progress this semester!
HC Launch, the student incubator through theCiocca Center, hosted the fall Innovation Challenge on Saturday, November 9, 2019. Building off of last spring’s Innovation Challenge, this event brought students together to brainstorm problems centered around issues on campus at Holy Cross stemming from the Engage Summit and to ideate potential solutions to these problems. Continue reading “Annual Innovation Challenge Solves Campus Problems”
Wilox, a student startup focused on making the world a cleaner place, is part of the Holy Cross student-run incubator. Earlier this month (11/13/18) they competed at the Beantown Throwdown (part of Global Entrepreneurship week) pitch contest hosted at LogMeIn, sponsored by Nutter/John Loughnane ’87 P19. The student team placed second, beating teams from MIT, Harvard, BC, BU, Tufts, McGill, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health, Wentworth, Brandeis, and Berklee.
Congratulations to the Wilox team!
Pictured from left to right: Joe Egan ’19: Business Development, Mike Brown ’19: Director of Sales, Luke Knox ’22: Co-Founder/CEO, Mary Anne Wiley ’22: COO, Paul Wiley ’20: President/Founder, Eric Lane ’21: Product Manager, John Bowen ’22: User Research, and Nolan Howard ’19: Market Research
“Tremendous job by the student team in competing so effectively! Congratulations to all involved! Great job too by the entire team from the Ciocca center for Business, Ethics, and Society at the College including Director David Chu and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ja-Naé Duane.” – John Loughnane ’87 P19: Partner, Nutter
The Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program,led by Ja-Nae Duane, provides students the opportunity to utilize and build upon their liberal arts education while learning the fundamentals of starting a venture and keeping a company relevant in this fast-changing world. The new Certificate of Entrepreneurship offered through the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society provides students with comprehensive and structured programming to acquire technical business skills and experiences.
The Incubator started in 2018 with two student entrepreneurs, Paul Wiley ’20 and Joe Egan ’19. They currently have over 40 members and work with 4 different student ventures. Their goal is to teach the entrepreneurial method across campus which in turn will allow students to make their business dreams a reality as a part of the E&I programming.
Thanks for reading! Cassie
Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Student Engagement
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society
“With the relaunch and the rebranding of the HC Startup group, there is also a renewed vision to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurial-minded folks. With the future of work dramatically changing the landscape, we need to prepare and support our students and alumni for this shift.” Ja-Naé Duane, EIR & Lecturer, Holy Cross
JOIN US for our winter networking event at T3 Advisors in Boston.
JANUARY 16, 2019 << Click to REGISTER.
Holy Cross alumni thriving as entrepreneurs and business leaders respond to real student questions about how to find success and satisfaction in the business world. Read student questions posed to alumni through Slack, HC Startup’s online message board, to learn what it takes to navigate the business world and find success as a modern entrepreneur.
Want to be a part of the community? Have answers to student questions? Join the conversation and meet us on Slack!
>> Q: Kit Mullen ’21, international studies major, asks “Lots of times people are torn between doing what they love and doing what will guarantee them successful in the eyes of others. As entrepreneurs how did you make the choice to leave the more normal, reliable lifestyle of working for a company for the riskier task of starting your own company?” A: Rob Petrosino ’10, Director of Social Commerce Marketing at Peak Activity, answers “Sometimes it comes down to a gut call but job satisfaction and fulfillment typically out weighs a “normal” life.”
>> Q: Gavin McNamera ’21, political science major, asks “Early in your college experience, how did you find direction on where you wanted to take your career in business or entrepreneurship?” A: Dan Barrett ’13 at Madaket Health, replies “Good question… the classic response is “follow what you enjoy doing”. It’s classic for a reason though: it’s true. Reflect on the classes that appeal to you, the assignments that appeal to you, the “aha” moments and the deep curiosities as you encounter new ideas in the classroom. Pursue those things. Entrepreneurship is hard. Working is hard. If you’re not doing something that fundamentally aligns with your interests you will burn out in a snap. Entrepreneurship is not flashy, it’s a grind. It usually involves grinding into a headwind, uphill. But it’s also a race. And if you hate the field you’re in or find it a total bore, it will be next to impossible to race against the people who happen to enjoy doing it.”
>> Q: Max Krause ’21, economics major, asks “How do you make sure your idea is a good idea before you go and invest your time and money into realizing it?” A: Rob Petrosino ’10, Director of Social Commerce Marketing at Peak Activity, answers “If your idea solves a problem you are most likely on the right track. How you execute is more than half the battle however.” A: Stacy Chin ’12, Co-founder & CEO at HydroGlyde Coatings, responds “ Listen to the market and you will see if they agree to your solution.”
Thanks for reading! Cassie
Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Student Engagement
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society
Have an idea for a business? Interested in working with cool ideas? Get involved with entrepreneurship and innovation this fall!
“The extracurricular entrepreneurial opportunities offered outside of the classroom such as the Ignite Incubator, the Fullbridge Program, the Shark Tank Competition, visits to start-ups, and networking events have all furthered my desire to pursue a career in business.”
– Paul Wiley ’20, chemistry major
2017 Shark Tank Competition Winner
>> Join the new Holy Cross student run Ignite Incubator! The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program is excited to launch the College’s new student run incubator. The Ignite Incubator enables students from all class years to learn what it takes to bring a business to market through hands on experience. Students can either:
have their idea or business incubated in the program
work on other students business ideas
The incubator is now accepting applications for both business ideas and for associate positions on the management team. Apply NOW! Deadline: September 10, 2018
>> Fall Course: Entrepreneurship 101
Tue. & Thu. from 12:30-1:45pm
Prof. Ja-Naé Duane
Entrepreneurship begins with a vision. This course focuses on the foundations of entrepreneurship and is appropriate for students from any major. It is designed to introduce students to the entrepreneurial process so that they may begin to shape their own entrepreneurial vision. Course objectives include an introduction to the challenges of entrepreneurship, an understanding of the ethical environment in which entrepreneurs operate, the skills to think critically and work toward the ability to evaluate opportunities in the business. This is a course that includes project-based entrepreneurial activities where students work to test and validate ideas.
Who should take this course?
Students who have a business idea
Students who want to work on existing business idea
Students who want to explore the field of entrepreneurship and innovation
Space is limited. Seats available for second, third and fourth year students.
>> Have questions? Reach out to Ja-Naé Duane, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, for more program details!
Intensity was in the air last night as Holy Cross held its annual Shark Tank competition in Hogan Suite A. This year the competition was fierce among nine teams pitching for seed money (about $1,000) with just three minutes to pitch, or venture money (over $10,000) with five minutes to pitch. After each presentation the judges had time to ask a few questions before heading to a private room to deliberate. While waiting, the audience got the chance to vote for a new category, the People’s Choice Award. The contestants waited anxiously as the room filled with fellow Holy Cross students and alum. Around 8pm the judges returned with three oversized checks in hand… Check out photos from the event HERE.
$5,000: Dillon Carmichael ‘18 pitched Redefining Black Masculinity, a platform for those actively redefining black masculine identity. Dillon said “the event is intimidating and inspiring. To see different people come with such great ideas and motivations makes you want to improve and keep on doing better. Hearing some people go before me almost disuaded me from giving my pitch, but once those jitters settled, it served as additional fuel for my fire. It’s competitive, but a healthy competitive because it comes from a place of genuine passion. Winning still comes as a surprise, but I am beyond grateful that I did and had the opportunity to share my idea with everyone at the event.”
$5,000: Riley Benner ‘20 launched a bespoke men’s fashion line produced by refugees for his company Phoenix Haberdashery. Riley commented “Holy Cross’ Annual Shark Tank was a really unique experience. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to share a night with other aspiring entrepreneurs and get to see the wide range of projects that they’re working on. We have a great community of support here on the Hill, especially from Ja-Nae and Professor Chu and many faculty members, but I think the most rewarding support that we can receive is from our peers who are all just trying to make their dream ideas into reality. Winning the competition was an honor, and it’s a reminder for me to keep working towards fulfilling the mission of Phoenix Haberdashery, because the judges clearly believed in that mission. It’s a wonderful affirmation of the hard work that my team and I have been putting in for the past 6 months, and we’re excited to use the money we received to further that mission.”
$2,500: Brad Ross ‘18 wants to improve goal accuracy for soccer players with his idea Scopum. Brad commented “The Shark Tank event is a really fun and exciting way to engage the entrepreneurial side in all of us. The prospect of pitching in front of judges with incredible backgrounds and experience while competing for real cash prizes allowed us to think as true entrepreneurs. This coincides with the exciting new entrepreneurship program at Holy Cross that provides us as students a platform to truly find our entrepreneurial spirit and bring it out the right way. Thinking about not only specific projects or ideas, but also the market opportunities, business plans, and go-to-market strategies that are necessary to consider in the real world.”
$1,140: Christina Nee ‘19 is interested in upcycling food waste to make delicious treats with her company named Top Banana. Christina wants to say “Thank you to everyone involved last night! I’m so excited to be able to pursue a business that will help combat food waste!”
$100: Hawar Haddadi ‘19 and Michael Lyons ‘19 won the People’s Choice Award for their idea, The Device Doctors. This company is a door-to-door phone repair service for campuses, starting with the College of the Holy Cross. Hawar commented “The event really brought to light the competitive nature of the entrepreneurial world. Everyone really came with their A-game and it was clear that everyone was extremely passionate about their idea. It was great to see such a high level of competition and excitement from Holy Cross students. I had a blast presenting and we received some really awesome feedback on how we should advance with our business!”
Thank you to our runners-up:
Anthony Saltarelli ‘18 presented his mobile app, The Networking Assistant, a tool to help students organize their network.
Nick Lacasse ‘18 pitched Table Split, a mobile app to divide checks amongst a table of friends at restaurants.
Nate Chung ‘18 launched a mobile app named EchoMe that enables users to live broadcast music and listen together in real-time, regardless of geographic location.
Michael Lowther ’18 pitched Undercover Difference Makers, an online platform to highlight those making a difference in the world.
Special thanks to our judges:
Stacy Chin ’12, CEO & Co-founder, HydroGlyde Coatings
Prof. Daniel Klinghard, Director, J.D. Power Center, Holy Cross
Tyler Scionti ’15, Product Expert, Hubspot
Thank you to Ja-Nae Duane, EIR, and Ben Lodge ’18 for making this event a true success. Looking forward to next year and hearing about all the incredible ideas the next group of Holy Cross students have!