Experience shared by Alexander Christie ’24, Administrative Director of HC Launch.
This week I was one of fourteen Holy Cross students accompanied by the Ciocca Center director and entrepreneur-in-residence, Rob Murner, to get off campus to visit a local stuartup on February 21. HC Launch, the entrepreneurship club within the Ciocca Center, organized a site visit to Geisel Software, a software development company focused on robotics and artificial intelligence located in Worcester. We were able to hear from a number of different people within this growing company including the office manager, a few engineers, and the founder/CEO, Brian Giesel. Feedback from students was that this site visit was an extraordinarily positive experience.
Giesel has something for everyone. There were a number of computer science majors in attendance who certainly benefited from hearing about the career experiences of the engineers. Those of us who weren’t specifically interested in software learned a lot about the intricacies of this field, which will only become more important to understand as technology continues to emulate life. Brian also talked about the founding and growth of the company, as well as the challenges that led the company to where it is today.
Throughout the fall 2021 semester, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program has been in full swing moving student engagement from virtual offerings to in-person ones. The following is a list of opportunities that nearly 100 students had this past semester to engage with the E&I program, led by Ja-Nae Duane.
Entrepreneurship Class: This semester, the entrepreneurship class saw its largest registration ever with 56 students. The class created 15 business ideas with the intent of five of them to continue on after the semester. Additionally, the students engaged with three alumni during the semester to hear their insights about entrepreneurship.
HC Launch: This semester, the student-led incubator supported three business ideas and two businesses with a total of 19 students involved. The students also continued their successful virtual alumni mentor meets and had 13 alumni meet with the students throughout the semester.
Innovation Challenge: This falls the theme of the Innovation Challenge was “Systems of the Future” with a focus on the systems here on campus. The event was co-sponsored by the Information Technology Services Department at Holy Cross and had 14 students participate from across campus with eight concepts pitched. Currently, three of the eight are moving forward into the conceptual and prototyping stages.
Business Strategy, and Innovation Workshop: This fall, the Business Strategy and Innovation workshop was offered again for students in all of the Business Certificate Programs. This workshop ran virtually in October for students and will be held in-person during January break for another ten students.
Venture Hill: This semester was the inaugural semester for Venture Hill, the student-led venture fund. During the semesters, nine students learned some of the fundamentals of venture capital with the intent to begin investing in student ventures (no equity taken) in the spring.
Watch for more opportunities to get involved in the new year! Keep an eye out for Entrepreneurship Week in March 2022 and get involved in the clubs.
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.”
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”
On Sunday, September 29, 2019 the HC Launch student incubator started off with its semester kickoff event. The application process yielded eight student-led startup teams, with ventures ranging from data security to the cosmetics industry. Paul Wiley ‘20 and Tom Cremins ‘21, managing directors, kicked off the event discussing the direction of the incubator this semester, matched student teams, and led an engaging team building activity. Continue reading “HC Launch Incubates Eight Student Businesses”
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!
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.
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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
The Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ja-Naé Duane, is working with the student club HCEG (Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group) to offer a series of workshops designed to help you make your idea a reality! Get involved and compete in the annual spring Shark Tank competition.
Each Wednesday meeting is held from 6:30pm-8pm in Hogan 402/403. See you there!
> Wed., October 18th: Pitch Night! Have a project or an idea you are working on? Could you use a little money to work on it? Come to this open mic and tell us about your idea or project and why you could use some financial help. Then your peers will decide. No slides. No suits. Two-three minute pitch. Just you and your idea. That’s it!
> Wed., October 25th: Rapid Prototyping When you have an idea sometimes you just need to put together a prototype for people to see. Within this session, we will go through the different types of prototypes you can create, how to do paper prototypes, as well as digital prototypes.
> Wed., November 1st: Find a Co-Founder Networking Event Want to do a startup, but need a co-founder or to build out your team. Come to this networking event and meet like-minded individuals who might have an interest in teaming up with you and doing something great.
> Wed., November 15th: Pitch Night!
Have a project or an idea you are working on? Could you use a little money to work on it? Come to this open mic and tell us about your idea or project and why you could use some financial help. Then your peers will decide. No slides. No suits. Two-three minute pitch. Just you and your idea. That’s it!
CONTACT: Ja-Naé Duane, Entrepreneur-in-Residence & Lecturer at the College. Stop by her office to say hello in Stein 129C and check out the new co-working space.
Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Lecturer
Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies
College of the Holy Cross
For over 20 years, Ja-Naé Duane focused on one mission: make life better for as many people as possible. This award-winning innovator has done that by focusing on revolutionary ideas and develop programs that impact our world. Currently the co-founder of The Revolution Factory, a global network that enables innovation ecosystems in corporations, governments, and universities.
The author of the bestseller, “The Startup Equation” and “How to Start Your Business with $100” Ja-Naé excels at advising startups because she understands from personal experience what it means to be a social entrepreneur. Over the years, her work has caught the attention of The Associated Press, NPR, Classical Singer Magazine, The Boston Globe, and Business Week.
Ja-Nae is an angel investor and advisor in a number of startups including Singularity University. She is excited to be joining the COES team here at College of the Holy Cross.