I have always had new ideas. Along with those ideas comes with the excitement of trying something new, of creating something novel. Most of my ideas (even my best ideas) … are garbage. They wouldn’t make it in the real world. They wouldn’t succeed outside of my own head. Because at the end of the day, nobody has room in their kitchen for an English muffin separator or fireplace tools with a built-in vacuum. My latest idea was the least glamorous of them all. A dog food company. The dog food idea was inspired by my own dog Gracie. Gracie had boring kibble every single day, she was also sick a lot of the time too. I fed her kibble because it’s what everyone feeds their dogs and because it was cheap. It turns out that kibble was making Gracie sick. I had heard about homemade dog food and gave it a try. On the homemade diet, Gracie had more energy, a shinier coat, and was overall healthier. I looked for similar fresh dog food on the market and found only very expensive products that used expensive ingredients. I knew that feeding a fresh, homemade dog food was simply better for the overall health of the dog. I decided to create a dog food with simple, inexpensive ingredients. Continue reading “Startup Spotlight: Matt Gasparrini ’20”
“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!
Have you seen the show Shark Tank? Did you know we had our own version of it here at Holy Cross? YES! It’s run by the Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ja-Nae Duane, where current students will pitch their ideas to a panel of alumni judges for real money. Don’t want to compete? Come watch the show!
The annual competition will be held on Thursday, February 22 from 6-8pm in Hogan Suite A …followed by an alumni networking event! Stay tuned to see who the alumni judges will be.
>> Want to compete? Join us for a prep session held on:
Monday, February 5 and Monday, February 12 at 6PM in Stein 216. *Must attend one prep session to compete.
MORE INFO: Meet with Ja-Nae via Google Hangout or stop by the new co-working space in Stein 129C.
— — — — —
UPDATE: Interested in who will be on the judging panel this year? Come to the event to meet them and mingle during the networking hour with a number of alumni entrepreneurs!
Stacy Chin ’12, CEO & Co-founder, HydroGlyde Coatings
Prof. Daniel Klinghard, Director, J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts & the World, Holy Cross
Tyler Scionti ’15, Product Expert, Hubspot
SaderSandbox: Idea Session, Round 2
Now worries if you missed the first brainstorming session, your second chance is right around the corner!
Join HCEG on Tuesday, November 1st for our final Idea Session where you will:
– get feedback/advice from experienced entrepreneurs
– meet potential team members
– learn next steps in competing in the annual Shark Tank
Don’t let this opportunity float away – we hope to see you there!
> Tuesday, November 1 at 7pm in Stein 216
> Free pizza and refreshments
By now you must have heard, the fourth annual Shark Tank competition was a huge success. Originally advertised that teams could win “up to $10,000,” the final pay out was $14,500! With four great pitches, two winning teams and a panel of successful alumni judges, I can hardly wait to see what is in store for next year. Many thanks to everyone involved!
2016 Shark Tank Competition Winners
FIRST PRIZE: $12,000: Breweries Stewardship Alliance
>Matt Watson ’16 is an anthropology major, and has self-designed his own food studies minor. He is interested in bringing about sustainable, ethical reform within our global food system and is seeking to empower environmentally friendly craft-breweries.
SECOND PRIZE: $2,500: StEP (Student Empowerment Program)
>Sean Griffin ’16 & Jake Medina ’16 are the founders of StEP, a non-profit organization that seeks to close the educational technology gap. StEP partners with existing college and university service programs to enhance educational non-profits and schools with innovative technology, ongoing training, and access to online resources.
THANK YOU to our 2016 JUDGES:
Michael Balmuth: Partner, SV Life Sciences
Michael Guleserian ’93: Chief Experience Officer, Nubar, Sheraton Commander Hotel
James Horne ’98: Analyst, IBS Capital LLC
Larry Naughton ’93: Co-Chair of the Business & Technology Group, Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP
Photo Credit: Rob Carlin
For all of the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, last Thursday night’s Shark Tank Competition was one for the books. Twenty-one groups of male and female Crusaders shared their ideas for potential products and businesses, competing for cash prizes and the ultimate reward, being named this year’s Shark Tank winner!
Clever Ideas, the first section of the night, consisted of a two minute verbal pitch without the aid of a powerpoint nor a question and answer session preceding it. The prizes at stake were two amounts of $250, and the pitch had to address these three main questions: What’s the product or service, what’s the value proposition, and who’s the customer? Although six groups competed, only two emerged victorious, and those were the apps Gavel, Michael Carboni ’18, and Tap and Teach, Alex Yeo ’15. Gavel focuses on addressing the lack of political expertise among United State’s citizens by simplifying the presentation and explanation of bills currently on the floor. The app will provide a list of bills per week, a short summary of the bill written at a high-school reading level, definitions of key terms and phrases, and the outcomes of each vote so users can directly see if a bill was passed or not. On the other hand, Tap and Teach is an app that wants to “redefine the world of tutoring.” Essentially, it will provide affordable, accessible tutoring and streamline the process of working with a tutor at Holy Cross. Because the app will feature the tutor’s profiles, all of whom will be Holy Cross students, the connection between the tutor and the student will be that much easier.
Directly following this was presentations for a Serious Start-Up, the main event of the night. Each group completed a five-minute pitch and a subsequent two-minute question and answer session, focusing on questions such as: What’s the product or service and how does it work, why is it necessary, what is your plan to grow your company, and what are the projected cash inflows and outflows for the first three years? All the participants in this section especially felt the pressure as first prize was $7,500 and second prize was $4,000, both amounts designed to help winners make their budding businesses concrete realities. Fifteen teams presented their ideas, ranging from Dmix, a program that provides quality, individualized song edits and mixes for dance performances and fitness classes, to RightOver, a shared-economy, freemium marketplace that matches college chefs with hungry college stomachs. Although each team’s idea was fantastically creative, Studily, Sean Donoghue ’15 & ohn Tabone ’15, and SKRA (pronounced ser-ka), Andrw Valencia ’15 & Michael Casey ’15, were the two concepts that emerged victorious. Studily, a productivity suite that allows students to plan their coursework, track their progress, and collaborate with classmates, took top prize. In addition, this app would allow for real-time, anonymous assessment of the course, an especially useful feature for professors using it to gauge student’s experiences in and reactions to the class. SKRA, which took second prize, is a newsfeed platform that enables recipients of blast emails to manage their responses to these emails. Not only does it allow students to gain control over their email inbox, for once, but it also can be used as event management software for high school student and college student involvement offices to track current and upcoming events.
Of course the judging panel had their work cut out for them, I’m sure it wasn’t easy to pick the winners. A big thank you to judging panel:
Overall, the night was truly a success, leaving its participants confident in their products and businesses and its audience inspired to work towards creating their own company as well. If you did not attend this year, all I can say is to make it a priority on your calendar next year; you will not regret it.
Thanks to Evan Grogan ’17 for this review of the annual Shark Tank Competition! View photos from the event here.
As always – check out the new COES instapage @HCPrebusiness.
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies
On Thursday, March 26th, 21 student teams competed for over $10,000 in prize money. Teams pitched their product/service idea to a panel of alumni judges for the chance to win! Students were given five minutes to pitch with just two minutes of Q&A, thanks to our avid time keeper Sophia Jin ’15.
With so many teams and such high stakes you can imagine how stiff the competition was, never mind skimming down to just two final winners for the overall prizes. A big thank you to our alumni judging panel, listed below.
Bob Allard ’91, Co-Founder, extensionEngine (eE)
John Calcio, VP, Channel Development, QStream
Tom Flynn ’87, Managing Partner, SV Life Sciences
Ben Kaplan ’16, Co-Founder & CEO, WiGO & 2013 Holy Cross Shark Tank Winner
Davide Marini, Co-Founder & CEO, Firefly BioWorks
Mary Moran ’77, Financial Services Consultant and Contractor
Spring 2015 Competition Winners:
Serious Start-Up Winners
John Tabone ’15 and Sean Donoghue
$7,500 to First Place: STUDILY is a productivity suite that allows students to plan their coursework, track their progress, and collaborate with classmates.
Andrew Valencia ’15, Michael Casey ’15, James LaVersci ’15
$4,000 for Second Place: SRKA (pronounced ser-ka) is a newsfeed platform that enables recipients of blast emails to manage their responses to these emails and an online event management software for high school/college student involvement offices to track current and upcoming events.
Clever Idea Winners
$250 awarded to Michael Carboni ’18
GAVEL is an app that summarizes current legislative bills that are on the floor for voting. This app summarizes the key points with a highlighted 1-2 page nonpartisan summary. The language of the response will be written at an early high school reading level so teachers can implement this resource into the classroom and all people can understand. The app is broken down into 3 sections: agenda, bill summary, and definitions.
$250 awarded to Alex Yeo ’15
TAP AND TEACH is a mobile app that connects students to qualified tutors. Tap and Teach offers affordable on-demand tutoring and provides tutors with a consistent source of income.
Thanks to all the teams who competed! Click to view more photos of the event on our Facebook page.
Competition Date: Thursday, March 26, 2015
5:30pm in McGrath Lecture Hall (Smith Labs 155)
TWO COMPETITIONS: (Choose one)
1. Clever Idea: Distill your idea into a two-minute pitch. No Q&A.
Two prizes will be awarded at $250/team for an original and promising idea.
2. Serious Start-up: 5 minute pitch + 5 minute Q&A.
Two prizes will be awarded for teams most ready for launching their business. First prize is $7,500/team. Second prize is $4,000/team.
Pitch your product/service idea to a panel of alumni judges for the chance to win! *Multiple prize monies awarded from clever idea to serious start-up, only to be used towards venture.
John Addonizio P16, CEO, J. Addonizio & Company, LLC
Bob Allard ’91, Co-Founder, extensionEngine (eE)
John Calcio, VP Channel Development, QStream
Tom Flynn ’87, Managing Partner, SV Life Sceinces
Ben Kaplan ’15, Co-Founder & CEO, WIGO & 2013 Holy Cross Shark Tank Winner
Mary Moran ’77, Financial Services Consultant and Contractor
REGISTER: http://offices.holycross.edu/business/sharktankcompetition (Teams must register by Thursday, March 19th to compete.)
Don’t want to compete but want to check out all the good ideas? COME WATCH!! Free and open to the campus community.
As those of you who are avid readers of this blog might remember, last spring the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies and the Entrepreneurship Club co-sponsored the inaugural Holy Cross Shark Tank competition where Ben Kaplan ’16 took home the grand prize for his original social networking app: WiGO.
Well, we are excited to announce that since last spring Kaplan has taken serious strides towards making WiGO (Who is Going Out) come alive and he has the initial launch slated for this early October. Holy Cross just might have its very own Mark Zuckerburg on its hands.
The goal of Kaplan’s app is to simplify the process of making social plans for college students. As a freshman at HC, Kaplan felt that making social plans and figuring out “who is going out?” was unnecessarily challenging. College students didn’t want to constantly be sending out group texts and no one wanted to always be posting all the details of social plans online and so WiGO was born.
The app creates networks based on a users’ college or university email address so that, for example, when an HCer logs in their homepage will show all of the other HCers who are users and indicate who has – or has not – said they’re headed out that night. There’s no specifics given, just “I am going out”, and there’s no friending process like with Facebook. Rather, if you go to HC you can see everyone else in your network and vice versa. From there, Kaplan believes that this app will make it easy to see who wants to go out and then utilize the app’s chat function to make plans. Additionally, if you see someone on the app who you’d like to encourage to go out you have the option to “shoulder tap” them, which lets them know you’d like them to see them out.
I had the chance to sit down and talk to Kaplan last week, as he prepared for the upcoming app launch, and what I was really struck by was the way he has developed an initial idea he had last spring into a real live app. He explained to me how he’d started the summer interviewing web developers and coders and ultimately settled on a team from Green Mountain Software, located in his hometown of Burlington, VT. He then spent the rest of the summer working with them to take what was initially an idea in his head and turn it into something that’s accessible and user friendly. We discussed why he decided to hire a local team, rather than outsourcing the coding as many app developers do, and he said that the opportunity to actually meet with, and have easy access to, his coding team was ultimately one of the best decisions he made. It allowed him to take real ownership in the creation process and meant that he could be involved making changes and decisions during the course of development.
Kaplan also credited the Holy Cross alumni network as being indispensable in this process. The time and feedback that he said so many alumni were willing to give him was very beneficial in the development of this app. Last spring, Shark Tank judge Chris Stephenson had told Kaplan that if he brought his idea to Seattle he’d meet with him to discuss. Kaplan cashed in on this promise over the summer, flying to the West Coast to meet, and also said that there were many other alumni who connected him with local entrepreneurs, weighed in on questions of copyright and intellectual property law and offered feedback as he moved through the process.
Obviously in launching an app, the marketing efforts are, in many ways, as important as the actual coding and Kaplan explained that he had a clear game plan for that too: he was starting by focusing on sports teams here at HC, because such a larger percentage of students are involved in them, and had reached out to individuals on the various teams to get them onboard as ambassadors. The plan is that these individuals will encourage their teammates to download, and use, the app thus creating the initial injection of users needed to get WiGO off the ground. From there the hope is that it will catch on organically and as students see how easy and effective it is to use they will encourage their friends to use it, too.
What’s the plan long term? Well, Kaplan is initially launching the app exclusively here at Holy Cross and you need to have a verified Holy Cross student email address in order to register. But, looking forward, Kaplan said his next step would be to roll it out to a handful of additional colleges, continue to monitor its growth, and then allow it to continue to spread to schools across the country.
Towards the end of our talk Kaplan said that he thinks no matter what happens with WiGO – whether it gets off the ground or not – the process of creating the app and bringing it to market has been incredibly valuable in and of itself. That being said, after listening to him for an hour – hearing where the idea came from, how he built the app, and how he plans to roll it out – this blogger has a hard time believing Kaplan isn’t going to make this a success.