Nick Lazzaro ’23 Wins 40 Under 40 Award

Nick Lazzaro with friends and family

In recent news, Holy Cross has been excited to witness the achievements of one of its alumni, Nick Lazzaro, a member of the class of 2023. Nick has been making headlines in the entrepreneurial realm with his company, Nick’s On-Site Detailing. His journey from a student at Holy Cross to a successful business owner not only deserves applause but also offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs within our community.

Nick’s recent recognition in the Worcester Business Journal’s esteemed 40 Under 40 awards ceremony is a testament to his dedication and innovation through Nick’s On-Site Detailing. This acknowledgment not only celebrates his achievements but also highlights his entrepreneurial spirit, which has set him apart in the business world.

During his time at Holy Cross, Nick actively engaged in the Ciocca Center Shark Tank Competition, an experience he considers pivotal in shaping his entrepreneurial path. Reflecting on this experience, Nick emphasizes the importance of effective pitching, noting how the competition provided him with a platform to refine his skills, receive valuable feedback, and gain confidence in presenting his ideas. “The shark tank competition was instrumental in my pitching skills development. It allowed me to learn from mistakes, receive feedback from alumni, and gain comfort in presenting,” Nick shared.

A key takeaway from Nick’s journey is his unwavering determination to seize opportunities and step out of his comfort zone. His decision to apply for the Worcester 40 Under 40 award underscores the significance of taking risks and putting oneself out there, ultimately leading to remarkable achievements. Nick also advises current Holy Cross students to embrace challenging coursework, believing it will equip them with the skills and resilience needed for future success.

Nick Lazzaro’s journey from Holy Cross student to a recipient of prestigious business awards is both inspiring and instructive. His story serves as a beacon of hope for budding entrepreneurs within the Holy Cross community, reminding us of the importance of perseverance, seizing opportunities, and embracing the journey towards our work. 

Written by Nico Corporon ’26

Students Explore Business Over Winter Break

Students at Fidelty Networking event with Tom Jessop '88 President of Fidelity Brokerage

Kicking off the spring 2024 semester, 160+ students participated in four concurrent workshops the week before classes began.  The week of January 18-22 was led by 25+ alumni presenters and mentors in the following areas:

Fullbridge Professional Edge: This simulated workweek provides exposure to the basics of business and an opportunity to collaborate in teams through active learning culminating in a final presentation where students present a growth idea for a Fortune 500 company. Special congratulations to Team Under Armour for the innovative growth idea securing them each the top prize of a $300 Apple gift card! Kathryn Sweet ’26, Charles Bacon ’27, Marisa Mamak ’27, and Mary Powers ’27 led by Coach Carmen!

Corporate Finance & Banking: 38 students toured at top Boston banks including Bank of America with Ted Lynch ‘84, SV Health Investors with Tom Flynn ‘87, and Natixis Asset Managers with Beatriz Pina Smith ‘87.  The highlight of the workshop was the fourth annual networking event held at Fidelity, hosted by Tom Jessop ‘88.  

Interview Prep: Personal branding and a core value proposition are key to successful interviewing. 86 students further developed their elevator pitch and practiced interview skills with the Center for Career Development followed by successful career tips from notable alumnae including Mimi Doherty ‘02 and Christina Imrich ‘08.

Marketing Communications & Sales: Alumni led 34 students through the practical exploration of advertising, marketing, sales, and public relations including, JR Butler ‘08, Catherine Cote ‘18, Tyler Dooley ‘17, Katie Macdonald ‘07, Kerri Mannion ‘19, Courtney Quinn ‘96, Cal St. Denis ‘08.  Teams competed in the PepsiCo Challenge, each tasked with bringing SodaStream to the next level with short- and long-term strategic thinking. Thank you to our PepsiCo judges Rowan Burgess ’23, Maureen Connolly ’18, Alex Smith ‘14, and Chris Vandervoorn ’19.

Many of the students participated in more than one opportunity as they worked towards Business Certificate Program completion, including the month-long Excel Tutorial offered during the month of January.

Check out the @holycrossbusiness Instagram page for photos from the event and follow to stay up to date with future programming and highlights. 

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 

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”

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.

10th Annual Shark Tank Winner Announcement

Shark Tanke winner holding large check

The 10th annual Shark Tank Competition was held on Sunday, April 16th in the Performing Arts Center, hosted by HC Launch through the Ciocca Center. Held in person for the first time since 2019, this year’s competition displayed a new generation of Holy Cross entrepreneurs. From photography, candlemaking, to tech solutions, there was a variety of creativity and problem solving involved.

Three well-seasoned business professionals volunteered their time to select this year’s winners. The judging panel included former Ciocca Center Director David Chu, Venture Forum Executive Director Zak Dutton, and Inmedix Co-Founder Tim Sciarrillo ’82, as teams competed for $9,000 in prize money. Along the way, each team was connected with a mentor who provided guidance and feedback. Thank you to our mentors Brendan Candon ’10, Rob Murner, Larry Naughton ’93, Bill Phelan ‘04, Nalani Ramos Ruiz ‘21, Kelly Shaw ‘09 and Eamon Troy ‘11. Continue reading “10th Annual Shark Tank Winner Announcement”

Entrepreneurship & Innovation Week Awards Over $15,000 in Prize Money

sustainability bannerCongratulations to all of the students who competed during the annual Entrepreneurship & Innovation Week: March 26 – 31, through the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society and the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program at Holy Cross. 

Sustainable Innovation Challenge

HC Launch held its bi-annual Innovation Challenge in partnership with the Office of the President, Environmental Studies Department, Political Science Department, Ciocca Center, Office of Sustainability, Green Fund, and Eco-Action. The challenge tasked Holy Cross students with developing and presenting creative ways to advance sustainability on our campus. With 8 teams pitching their ideas to a panel of 3 judges, students developed detailed applications of sustainable practices in an effort to lower the college’s ecological footprint and to inspire green-thinking on campus. Nick Bettenhauser ‘24, Sasha Paradise ‘24 & Eileen Evans ‘24 ultimately won first place with their innovative and feasible pathway towards the installation of solar carports. Eco Saders and Green Addition placed 2nd and 3rd respectively. HC Launch and other organizations are now collaborating with these teams to implement their ideas. 

Congratulations to the 2022 Innovation Challenge winners! Continue reading “Entrepreneurship & Innovation Week Awards Over $15,000 in Prize Money”

Virtual Entrepreneurship Week Awards Over $10,000 in Prize Money

Congratulations to all of the students who competed during the annual Entrepreneurship Week, March 18-25, 2021, through the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society and the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program at Holy Cross.  These virtual events attracted more than 65 students with 9 alumni involved as judges and mentors throughout the week.

Kicking off the week, HC Launch held its bi-annual Innovation Challenge in partnership with CodeSaders and the Green Fund. The challenge required Holy Cross students to come up with creative ways to build community and connect students during the COVID-19 pandemic. With 11 teams pitching their ideas to a panel of six judges, two being our very own co-presidents of the Student Government Association, students managed to develop and create detailed plans and events that centered around the theme of community. The winning idea of this competition will be immediately implemented with the help and mentorship of Dean Murray.

Normally, the Innovation Challenge would have been held in person, but due to COVID precautions was held virtually this year. The Ciocca Center’s Head of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program, Ja-Nae Duane, kicked off the event by informing the teams and 70+ audience members of the ground rules, prizes and goals. Tom Cremins ’21 and Mary Anne Wiley ’22, HC Launch’s Managing Directors, led intermission and gave out raffle prizes to audience members while the judges deliberated.

Congratulations to the 2021 Innovation Challenge winners:

  • 1st Prize: $1,000 for Fresh Fest: an outdoor festival to help freshmen to connect by Nick Bettenhauser ‘24 & Sasha Paradise ‘24
    * Watch for this inaugural event scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2021!
  • 2nd Prize: $750 for HC Jumpstart, a social connection to meet others on campus by Britt Axelson ‘21, Raphaella Mascia ‘21 & Connor McNerney ‘22
  • 3rd Prize: $500 and “Most Creative Award” for Sader Sips: a senior-focused beer garden by Katelyn Cody ‘22, Julia Covelle ‘22, Allie Russo ‘22 & Karter Seitz ‘22
  • 4th Place: ‘Special JudgesAward’ received for their outdoor movie night on the freshman field by Fabiola Trejo ‘22 and Victoria Covarrubias ‘22

Special thanks to our judges: James Keyes ‘77, Cheryl Martin ’84, Dean Michele Murrary, William Turtone, and co-presidents of the SGA, Noah Sisk ’21 and Victoria Tara ’21.

The next two events were casual pitch nights for students with early stage projects or ideas. These events are designed to helps students identify next steps, stress test an idea and find team members to help build it out. The first event was an opportunity for students to pitch to their peers and the second gave students pitch practice pitching their idea to an alum, Catherine Wilcox ’80.

To finish off Entrepreneurship Week, HC Launch held its eighth annual Shark Tank Competition. The  event allows Holy Cross students to pitch their business ideas to a group of judges for five mins each, followed by three minutes of Q&A. Ten teams (five teams in the seed stage category and five teams in the early-stages category) competed for a combined total of $10,000 in prize money.

Congratulations to the Seed Stage Shark Tank Winners: a category focused on the market opportunity and concept validation of the business idea.

  • $500 to Greenlist: a browser extension for identifying environmental product info Nathan Lewis ‘22
  • $500 to That’s Yo Body: A motivation/fitness brand
    Josh Azor ‘24
  • $500 to Chering: A web-app that helps thrift stores resell their clothing.
    Jacob Azzi ‘23, Dana Dinardo ‘21, Raphaella Mascia ‘21, Genevieve Wagner ‘21 of Ohio State & Molly Zachlin ‘21of Notre Dame

Congratulations to the Early Stage Shark Tank Winners: a category for students with more developed business models.

  • $3,000 to SaderSleeps: a mattress rental service for college students by Louie Fiacco ‘22 & Will Spangenberg ‘22
  • $2,000 to PakChat: a mobile app that allows different friend groups to meet other friend groups within their own community by Peter Blunt ‘21 & Chad Arle ‘21
  • $1,000 to FUD: an app using algorithms to identify common restaurant preferences by Chris Herndon ‘22 & Jean Baptiste “JB” Goriou ‘22

Congratulations to the Ignite Fund Winner: a category for students to work with funding and guidance through the JD Power Center.

  • $2,000 to SynchRUNous: an app for coaches to live track their runners by Meg Gerety

Special thanks to our Shark Tank Competition judges:

  • Matt Drinkwater ‘95: Former General Manager, Buzzfeed
  • Alex Hanlon ‘06: Executive, Reddit
  • Beau Lescott ‘95: President, Adaptive Portfolio Technologies
  • Michelle Stark Barrett: Director, Community Based Learning, Holy Cross
  • Jim Tselikis ‘08: Owner, Cousins Maine Lobster

Congratulations to everyone involved during the 2021 virtual Entrepreneurship Week and we hope to see you next year!


Update 6/24/21: Read more about the Shark Tank winners in WorcesterMag & the Worcester Business Journal!  Congratulations and keep it up!

Students Win Business Ethics Competition

The International Business Ethics Case Competition, IBECC, was founded by Tom White ’69 over 23 years ago. Students from the College of the Holy Cross have competed since 2011, typically with a first round on campus with the winning team sent to compete internationally. Unfortunately, like so many other events in 2020, IBECC was moved to a virtual format and the Holy Cross teams opted not to move forward.

Two students, Katelyn Cody ’22 and Robin Lu ’22, worked with Prof. Karen Teitel and decided to participate as individuals in the optional Moral Compass Competition. Students were mixed up with students across schools, a good way to know other people.  Katelyn Cody ’22 team (Bagel Running) won and Robin Lu ’22 team (Pot and Glove) was one of two runners up.

Continue reading “Students Win Business Ethics Competition”

The HC Student Investment Fund Competes in Michigan

 

Holy Cross Student Investment Fund students posing at Engage Summit in Michigan

Left to Right:  Jack McConville ‘20, Liam Busconi ‘21, LJ Foley ‘21, Maggie Burd ‘20 & Jack Mucci ‘21

Five students in the Holy Cross Student Investment Fund (HC SIF) competed at the annual ENGAGE, Annual Undergraduate Investment Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The two-day event, October 18-19 of 2019, consisted of various panels, speakers and nearly 30 schools, including Texas, Notre Dame, Virginia, Elon, Washington University. HCSIF pitched AT&T based on broader macroeconomic themes and a thesis on future company transition influenced by an activist investor letter, a thesis eventually proven true in the short term by the market.  You can view their pitch deck here: AT&T Engage Undergraduate Investment Pitch.


This spring the student group plans to compete in CQA, a virtual portfolio competition, as well as at the annual UMASS Isenberg Stock Pitch Competition.  Additionally, the group plans to visit alumni in Boston and NYC for site visits and alumni networking opportunities. Stay tuned!