Entrepreneurship Course Students Pitch Business Ideas for Final Presentations

Students Presenting

Thursday, December 7th marked the last day of classes and final presentations for students in the Entrepreneurship Class taught by Tom Patton ’86. Students presented business ideas to a panel of judges from SV Health Investors, including Andrew Capetta,  A.J. Rossi, and Megan MacDonagh.  SV Health Investors is a venture and private equity investor that backs entrepreneurs in the healthcare space. 

Students pitched their ventures on a variety of innovative topics including:

  • PennyVentures, an app to support students who study abroad that combines budgeting, social media, and connections to local restaurants and services vetted by users.
  • Bass River Cruise, a luxury boat company providing unique water bound experiences on the Cape.
  • Splitz, an app that easily divides expenses for group online orders. 
  • VapeEscape, nicotine patch therapies in fun shapes and colors to encourage young adults to quit vaping without the stigma. 
  • UniBite, an app to aid college students in maintaining healthy and nutritious diets.

After deliberating, the panel announced the winning teams.  Second Place went to Team UniBite comprised of Devyn Gianino ‘25, JP McCarthy ‘24, Ashley Bunici ‘26, and Nico Corporan ‘26.  First Place went to team VapeEscape comprised of Eileen Evans ‘25, Mikey Rufino ‘24, and Mary Pat Sayre ‘24.  

First Place Team

To close the event, Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Business Certificate Programs for the Ciocca Center at Holy Cross, shared the dates for upcoming spring events such as CrossTank, the annual Holy Cross spring pitch competition, to be held on March 25, 2024. She also announced that the city of Worcester will hold the inaugural WooTank Intercollegiate Showdown on April 2, 2024 where winning teams from their respective college competitions will compete for capital from real sharks. This year, competing colleges include Holy Cross, WPI, Clark University and Nichols College. Students from the Entrepreneurship course were encouraged to compete. 

No More Confusion: Your Ultimate Guide to Marketing Communication Lingo

 

Cartoon picture of business people talking

Considering that every industry has its own language, concepts and acronyms, try to familiarize yourself with this list if you are interested in the Marketing Communications industry. The list of need-to-know terms will continue to grow as time, techniques and technologies advance so feel comfortable asking about a term or acronym if you are unfamiliar with it because chances are that others are also in the dark when they hear “UX”, “KPI” or “CTA”. 

Analytics

In marketing, analytics refers to the process of analyzing data to determine the return on investment of a particular marketing activity. Marketers may also use the term analytics to talk about the dashboard or system they use to review and track this data.

B2B

This acronym is shorthand for business-to-business marketing. B2B companies are those that market their products or services to other businesses.

B2C

This acronym stands for business-to-consumer marketing. B2C companies sell their products or services directly to the end consumer.

Brand

A brand is the way a company is perceived and experienced by potential customers. Pieces of a brand include its logo and other design elements, the voice it uses when interacting with customers and the target customers it’s known for serving.

Brand awareness

The extent to which potential customers are familiar with your company and the distinct images or qualities that are associated with what you are selling.

Buyer persona

Buyer personas are the imaginary people marketers target when they design ads or create content like website copy. Although buyer personas aren’t real people, they are created based on data from actual consumers. These personas are then used to inform the audience, tactics and tone of the messages delivered.

Call to action (CTA)

 A call to action is a prompt that encourages website visitors to take a certain action, such as subscribing to an email newsletter or submitting a contact form. CTAs are used to guide potential customers through the next step in a sales funnel. Campaign

A campaign is a cohesive set of marketing activities designed to achieve a specific goal, like increasing sales for a certain product or spreading awareness of a new product feature.

Case study

Case studies are a type of content that typically showcases a company’s work with a past customer, often with a heavy focus on statistics or other quantifiable data that help highlight how the company achieved the desired results.

Cold calling/emailing

A tactic used by salespeople to contact potential customers via phone or email with whom the company has had no previous contact.

Content

Content is any piece of information that’s created to be viewed by an audience. This could include blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, videos or even print brochures.

Customer journey

Continue reading “No More Confusion: Your Ultimate Guide to Marketing Communication Lingo”

2023 Innovation Challenge – Recap

Brendan Candon '10 speaking

The Ciocca Center, in partnership with HC Launch, hosted the annual Innovation Challenge yesterday afternoon. Yesterday’s competition revolved around business solutions for SidelineSwap, the premier marketplace dedicated to connecting athletes and sports enthusiasts in the dynamic world of sports gear selling. Founded by Brendan Candon ’10 in 2015, SidelineSwap has a remarkable track record of facilitating transactions exceeding $250 million and has earned its place among the fastest-growing global marketplaces, as recognized by the esteemed Andreessen Horowitz A16z Top 100 list. Backed by influential investors, including strategic partners such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and eBay, SidelineSwap is not only a platform for buying and selling sports equipment but a community-driven hub that empowers athletes to access quality gear affordably. The recent addition of the Trade-in Platform further exemplifies SidelineSwap’s commitment to innovation, enabling retail partners to create circular shopping experiences and fostering a sustainable and accessible marketplace for sports enthusiasts worldwide.

Students were tasked with pitching one of three solutions proposed by the CEO himself: 

Identifying Potential Sales Opportunity:

Identify a sport with over $10 million annual secondhand gear sales potential, requiring research on market size and characteristics for a successful second-hand marketplace.

Creating a User Experience Using AI:

Design an AI-driven user experience to address user problems and drive positive outcomes for SidelineSwap.

Designing a Solution For Cleaning Bats and Clubs in Bulk:

Propose solutions for efficiently cleaning baseball bats, softball bats, and golf clubs in bulk before listing on SidelineSwap.

Integrating AI into the UI: Securing 1st place, API-tizer tackled the challenge by suggesting an innovative incorporation of AI into SidelineSwap’s user interface. Rather than taking the conventional route of directly enhancing the user experience, API-tizer put forth a groundbreaking proposal to integrate AI seamlessly into SidelineSwap’s UI. This integration, facilitated through an API, was specifically aimed at photo verification and data-related processes for enhanced verification. The team not only addressed the prompt but also demonstrated forward-thinking by devising cost-effective strategies for the smooth integration of this advanced tool. Their pitch underscored a profound understanding of how strategically deploying AI could fortify user trust and elevate the overall credibility of the platform.

Savvy Sam: Claiming the 2nd place position, Team Sam directed their focus toward creating a more personalized and efficient user experience. Their innovative solution involved introducing a virtual chat assistant, named Sam, to SidelineSwap’s website. This AI-powered assistant was conceptualized to facilitate personalized user interactions, streamlining the process for users to find customized sports gear more efficiently. Team Sam’s approach emphasized the importance of user-centric design and showcased a commitment to enhancing the overall journey for SidelineSwap users, aligning with the prompt’s objective of using AI to drive positive outcomes for the business.

Squeaky Clean Solutions: The Clean Team, securing 3rd place, devised a meticulous solution aimed at optimizing the cleaning process for SidelineSwap. Acknowledging the operational challenge of managing thousands of sports products, especially baseball bats, softball bats, and golf clubs, the team presented an innovative proposal. Their approach involved implementing ultrasonic cleaners for golf clubs, demonstrating a practical and cost-effective strategy to enhance efficiency and reduce costs in the cleaning process. The Clean Team’s pitch showcased a thorough understanding of the operational intricacies within SidelineSwap’s warehouses, highlighting the significance of maintaining product quality through streamlined cleaning procedures.

Thank you to our judges, Tom Brennan ’86, Terry Waters ’81, and Brendan Candon ’10 for their invaluable time, expertise, and thoughtful evaluation during the SidelineSwap Innovation Challenge.

Winners:

First Place team

API-tizers (Meggan Fourie ’25, Maura Switzer ’25, Ivor Teagle ’25)

1st Place – $1,000:  API-tizers (Meggan Fourie ’25, Ivor Teagle ’25, Maura Switzer ’25)

2nd Place – $500: Team Sam (Nico Corporon ’26, Sean Doyle ’26)

3rd Place – $250: Clean Team (Briana Sullivan ’24, Nico Popeleski ’26, Maya Kryzwda ’24)

Written by Liz Garfield ‘24 

2023 Women in Business Conference Recap

Women in Business Keynote Interview

The 18th annual Women in Business Conference at Holy Cross held on Saturday, November 4, 2023 was an empowering and inspirational event for alumnae and students alike. It focused on various aspects of women’s careers and personal growth within the business world. Here are a few key takeaways from the conference: 

Empowerment and Inspiration: The conference serves as a beacon of empowerment and inspiration for women pursuing success in the business industry. It aims to encourage women to strive for their goals and advance their careers while networking with other alum.

Diversity: Marybeth Kearns-Barrett ‘84 P22 27, the Director of the College Chaplains, emphasized the importance of diversity in her message. This underscores the significance of inclusivity in the business world.

Holy Cross Impact: Christine Anderson ’99, who is the Global Head of Corporate Affairs at Blackstone, served as the keynote speaker. She discussed the value of her liberal arts education in her career journey and highlighted that success in business is not limited to specific majors. Anderson pointed out that the finance industry, though still male-dominated, is a great place for women to work. She encouraged women to actively participate in discussions and engage in the field. She mentioned that Holy Cross’s mission statement still resonates with her, suggesting that the college’s values of “being women for and with others” continue to guide her in her career. 

Networking and Support: Anderson called for students and alumni to support each other and work to strengthen their network at Holy Cross. This highlights the importance of networking and building a supportive community which Holy Cross fosters.

Continuous Improvement: The call for students to always strive to be better indicates the importance of personal and professional growth and development.

Overall, the conference provided a platform for women to learn from successful women in business, gain insights into career development, and foster a sense of community and support among students and alumni. It emphasizes the value of education, diversity, and the importance of women’s active participation in traditionally male-dominated fields like finance.

Special thanks to the conference student organizing committee led by Liz Garfield ’24, Bridget Hayden ’24, Sydney Ives’ 24 and Alexandria “Sasha” Paradise ’24.  Your year-round leadership and enthusiasm in bringing together alumnae and students has been notable.  Thank you! 

Written by Liz Garfield ‘24 & Ariana Clark ‘25.

From Liberal Arts to Co-founder and CEO: A Conversation with Brendan Candon ’10

Alumni Highlight Picture

The Innovation Challenge provides students with a unique opportunity to collaborate with local businesses or non-profits, addressing real-world issues and presenting innovative solutions. This year, the challenges are focused on SidelineSwap, an online marketplace for sporting equipment co-founded by Holy Cross alumnus Brendan Candon ’10. In a recent interview with Maeley Nakamura ’26, Brendan shared his journey from a political science major at a liberal arts school to becoming the CEO of SidelineSwap and how his experiences at Holy Cross shaped his entrepreneurial success.

MN: As a political science major at Holy Cross, how did your liberal arts education contribute to your entrepreneurial success?

BC: “As an entrepreneur, there’s no blueprint. You’re constantly problem-solving and learning across a broad surface area. And the learning is often self-directed. There’s no better foundation for entrepreneurship than liberal arts because you learn how to learn and you have an opportunity to study a broad range of subjects – from economics and accounting to political science and psychology. 

Majoring in political science helped prepare me for an environment where the right answer is often far from obvious. I learned to think critically, consider multiple perspectives, understand multiplayer strategy, and communicate persuasively. 

In both politics and business, it’s up to the leader to ask the right questions, distill the information at hand, make the best decision possible and influence their teams to pursue that plan of action. As a political science major and history minor, I had an opportunity to study these dynamics through history’s most challenging conflicts and greatest leaders, and I think that prepared me well for life as an entrepreneur.” 

Long before Brendan founded SidelineSwap, he had a history of starting businesses and talks about his successes and failures along the way, and the story of how SidelineSwap started. 

MN: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Continue reading “From Liberal Arts to Co-founder and CEO: A Conversation with Brendan Candon ’10”

Unlocking Innovation – The Journey of Flare

Quinn Fitzgerald '11 speaking to students on zoom

On Monday, HC Launch warmly welcomed Quinn Fitzgerald ’11 as the distinguished guest for their first Founder Forum event of the semester. The audience, predominantly composed of aspiring entrepreneurs, had the privilege of hearing an engaging story that intertwined innovation with personal safety. Quinn Fitzgerald shared her journey from her academic exploration in peace and conflict studies to her foray into entrepreneurship, culminating in the creation of Flare, a revolutionary personal safety company.

Quinn’s leap into entrepreneurship wasn’t premeditated but rather spurred by a college assignment that tasked her with launching a startup. The result was Flare, a company designed to tackle personal safety concerns head-on. What fueled her passion for this endeavor was a deeply personal experience – an assault that ignited her determination to address a long-standing societal issue.

Throughout the event, Quinn stressed that entrepreneurship is not just a career but an approach, a unique way of problem-solving and confronting challenges. She also shed light on the soft skills she acquired along her entrepreneurial journey, which proved instrumental to her success.

Flare was in the spotlight during the event, presented as a company specializing in personal safety, with an innovative app and a wristband. Established in 2016 and recently acquired by new ownership, this transition marked a significant milestone in its evolution. Quinn’s current focus is on coaching and mentoring other entrepreneurs, following her successful sale of Flare.

Quinn shared her venture into an industry with a centuries-old history. Her aim was to offer a more comprehensive solution to multifaceted safety concerns, moving beyond conventional methods like pepper spray. She engaged potential users rigorously through surveys and focus groups, gaining profound insights into their needs and circumstances.To develop a product that truly resonated with the market, she began with product sketches and employed 3D printing technology. The search for the right engineers was pivotal, and she successfully assembled a talented team by offering them a modest stake in the company’s ownership. The initial 3D printed prototype evolved gradually, incorporating features such as a chip and a button to enhance functionality.

Quinn also discussed her journey to secure funding. She commenced with competitions as her initial source of financing, ultimately succeeding in securing three rounds of capital. The first round brought in $750,000, the second an impressive $3 million, and the third attracted even more substantial investments, thanks to the support of both venture capitalists and angel investors.

Quinn’s narrative provides a wealth of insights for budding entrepreneurs, illustrating the path from concept to funding. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of innovation and unwavering determination in addressing complex societal challenges, one step at a time.

Thanks to Liz Garfield ’24 for writing this HC Launch recap! 

81 Students & 50+ Alumni Participate in Fall Break Business Workshops

Group of professionally dressed students posing on the library steps.

Every fall break, the Ciocca Center holds concurrent workshops for students involved in the Business Certificate Programs to connect with alumni, make real-world connections, learn industry insights and practice presentation skills.  81 students and over 50 alumni participated in last weeks iteration, details below.

The annual Global Supply Chain Management Workshop helped 53 students understand that everything we wear, eat, drive, and consume comes through an organized supply chain from different parts of the world. The alumni presenters inlcluded Pete Mondani ’79, Bill Liesman ’72, Roger Lobo ’04, and Conor Moynihan ’13 – all practitioners in the field.  They shared the inner workings of a global supply chain and how it manages the distribution of various goods and services.  Teams of 4-5 students met with Holy Cross vendors, spanning from coffee to sweatshirts, to understand the inherent political, cultural, and ethical issues.  They even got off campus to experience a working supply chain during a company site visit to Polar Beverages with a tour by Chris Crowley, executive vice president of the company.

Concurrently, the annual Finance Boot Camp brought 28 students to NYC to meet alumni on Wall Street as part of the Finance & Banking Certificate program. Starting with an alumni-led current event discussion and professional communication overview, students were prepped on campus for the overnight trip to the city.  Alumni at JP Morgan, PIMCO, Barclays, KeyBanc and Morgan Stanley hosted the cohort to share industry insights, interview tips and discuss the various fields within the industry including sales and trading, investment banking, and wealth management.

Trey Rabuffo ’25 and Helene Cummings ’25 shared their student experience on the College’s Instagram account, which can also be seen on @holycrossbusiness.

Congratulations to all of the student participants and a big thank you to all of our alumni who are giving back to Holy Cross, like so many have done before them.

Students Prepare for Bank Visits with Jargon Cheat Sheet

 NYSE Wall Street Signs

This list of finance vocabulary is a sampling of some of the terms and abbreviations students can expect to hear during conversations at the various site visits to banks in Boston and NYC as part of the Certificate in Finance & Banking program.  Get acquainted with industry jargon and concepts, and review courses and guides to gain more from your upcoming experience, including the ability to ask better questions to make yourself stand out from the crowd.  Be sure to access the College’s free readership program for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and New York Times (NYT) to connect with these terms in a real world context.

Finance Jargon

Asset: Resource with economic value that a corporation owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit; Assets are reported on a company’s balance sheet and are bought or created to increase a firm’s value or benefit the firm’s operations.

    • Asset Allocation is an investment strategy that aims to balance risk and reward by apportioning a portfolio’s assets according to an individual’s goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. The three main asset classes – equities, fixed-income, and cash and equivalents – have different levels of risk and return.

Book Building: Process by which an underwriter attempts to determine the price at which an initial public offering (IPO) will be offered. An underwriter, normally an investment bank, builds a book by inviting institutional investors (such as fund managers and others) to submit bids for the number of shares and the price(s) they would be willing to pay for them.

Book Value: Referring to an investment, it is the price paid for a security or debt investment. When a company sells stock, the selling price minus the book value is the capital gain or loss from the investment.

Broker: Individual or firm that acts as an intermediary between an investor and a securities exchange; Buy and sell financial instruments on the behalf of a client and charges a fee for doing so.

Bull and Bear Markets:

    • A Bull Market is a market that is on the rise and where the economy is sound. (Tip: A bull charges “up” with horns.)
    • A Bear Market exists in an economy that is receding, where most stocks are declining in value. (Tip: A bear charges “down” with paws.)

Buying Size: Occurs when a trader offers to buy a large volume of shares

Buy-Side/Sell-Side:

    • Buy-Side is the side of the financial market that buys and invests large portions of securities for the purpose of money or fund management; Includes investment managers, pension funds, and hedge funds.
    • Sell-Side is the other side of the financial market, which deals with the creation, promotion, and selling of traded securities to the public; Includes investment banks, advisory firms, and corporations.

Continue reading “Students Prepare for Bank Visits with Jargon Cheat Sheet”

Tom Patton ’86 Returns to the Hill to Teach Entrepreneurship Course

 

Headshot of alum in a grey suit

Tom Patton graduated from Holy Cross in 1986 studying economics and accounting while playing on the football team.  Following HC,  he attended law school at Georgetown.  “After five great years of practice as a litigator at a D.C. law firm, I leapt naively into a general counsel job at an orthopedic device company in Memphis, TN” shares Patton. ” Five years after that, as the company was circling the drain, I was asked to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO, a.k.a., the Boss.)  Our team fixed the company and sold it, and just like that, I became a medical products “turn-around” specialist, meaning, I was the person to jump in and run companies when things were really bad.  I did that three more times.  In between CEO jobs, I worked with private equity firms that invest in healthcare companies.  I also started a healthcare diagnostics company with two doctors as partners.  We sold that start-up after six years of hard work to a multinational medical products company.”   He goes on to add that he learned constantly which included good and bad decisions, good and bad hires, and good and bad investments. “Over time that accumulation of hard-earned experiences turned into what people my age call wisdom,” Patton closes.

Over the years as an alum, Patton supported the Ciocca Center programs by co-teaching during various business workshops such as the Executive Leadership Workshop and most recently Business Ethics & Principled Leadership.  This fall he will be returning to campus in a new capacity as an adjunct professor to teach Entrepreneurship.  Through this class, its readings, interactions, and experiences, “I hope to relay some of that wisdom and give you the chance to learn some of the entrepreneurial stuff I wish I knew before I was handed my Holy Cross degree” shares Patton. Students can expect to come away from this course with:

  • an understanding of the component parts of a successful entrepreneurial enterprise.
  • a new vocabulary and a new lens to see, understand, and critically analyze business techniques and entrepreneurial opportunities that surround you every day.
  • entrepreneurial confidence to apply sometime in your career if or when those entrepreneurial opportunities arise.
  • the tools to follow a rigorous process to maximize the likelihood that your entrepreneurial venture is successful.
  • honed your writing, communication, and interpersonal skills.
  • understanding that all business endeavors, whether for-, or not-for-profit, can be consistent with a purpose-driven life and the mission of being men and women for and with others.

Student Highlight: Nick Lazzaro ’23

Male student sitting outside

“Holy Cross helped foster my passions as an entrepreneur” shares Nick Lazzaro ’23, “and helped me to learn how to take risks.”  Nick was a long time participant in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program and heavily involved in HC Launch, the student entrepreneurs group.  “Encouragement from professors and advisors at the College’s Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society allowed me to network out of my comfort zone” states Lazzaro, “and created a space for me to flourish in business. I learned that taking risks academically and professionally are crucial to success and the best way to accomplish your goals is to be your unique self.”

In 2022, Lazzaro won first place during the annual Shark Tank Competition for his pitch on Nick’s On-Site Auto Detailing business.  The company not only details cars but we seek to help others via a scholarship fund for Millbury students, where the business has donated more than $1,500 to future college-bound entrepreneurs.  He was also named one of Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2022.