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 

Open Letter to Business Certificate Program Graduates

Dear Business Certificate Program graduates, 

Congratulations! After years of workshops, tutorials, internships, coursework, and job shadowing experiences, we are proud to name you as a graduate of the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society at the College of the Holy Cross.  

As a graduate, you are among a select group of students who will be receiving a Certificate in Business Fundamentals, Certificate in Entrepreneurship, and/or Certificate in Finance & Banking. 

While others were vacationing, you had decided to immerse yourself in business, expose yourself to new concepts, build transferable skill sets, and network with successful alumni in the field. This dedication has made all the difference.  Your liberal arts education from Holy Cross has equipped you with the skills to communicate effectively, problem solve, and think critically – the soft skills you can’t learn on the job. To complement this, your business certificate will be a differentiator in the job market and has provided you with competitive technical skills. Take this opportunity to appreciate all that you have accomplished. 

The journey from Holy Cross is a shared experience – past, present and future. Much like the time you spent with alumni professionals, our hope is to one day welcome you back to campus to speak with current students.  Your story will be one others can relate to because you have chosen to achieve both your academic interests and unique career goals. We are extremely proud of you and your pursuits, and wish you the best as you embark on your next journey!

Please be sure to stop in Stein 129E to pick up your hard copy certificate, graduation pin and say farewell.  

Congratulations again on this tremendous achievement and please stay in touch,

Prof. David Chu, Cassie Gevry, Prof. Ja-Naé Duane & Kathy Kinnarney
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society
Continue reading “Open Letter to Business Certificate Program Graduates”

HC Launch Incubates Eight Student Businesses

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”

Student Incubator Success

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

HC Startup: Boston Kickoff Event

networking event “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.

Ask Alumni Anything

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, repliesGood 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, answersIf 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

NEW WORKSHOP ALERT: Business, Hospitality and Entrepreneurship

What do the Hilton, Carnival Cruise Line and Wolfgang Puck all have in common? They are all successful hospitality empires!

Join this alumni-led workshop on April 14th to learn how you can make it big in the land of giants. Learn what it is, how to get in and the various career options from entrepreneurship to marketing and finance.

Saturday, April 14
10am-1pm in Stein 216
>> REGISTER HERE

Meet the hospitality expert, Mary  D’Argenis-Fernandez ’93 and read a bit about her story here.

Save

Save

Annual SHARK TANK Competition

Group photo at the 2017 Shark Tank competition. From Left to Right: Bryan Sparkes ’04, Dylan Oliveira ’17, Ed McLaughlin ’78, Mary Kate Vanecko ’17, Paul Wiley ’20 and April Lukasik P16.

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

Save

RSVP REQUIRED: Upcoming Prebusiness Events!

The fall semester at Holy Cross is always a great time to reconnect with your friends and make new connections.  I encourage you to make plans with these friends to attend some of our upcoming Prebusiness events. Some have food, but they all have great speakers.  See you there!

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-3-05-26-pm

Prebusiness hosts Sanctae Crucis honoree Tom Carey ’66
Tom Carey ’66 is the former executive vice president of Omnicom Group Inc. His responsibilities included the strategic development, networking, resourcing and integration of Omnicom companies for the benefit of major clients of the group, such as Daimler Chrysler, Mars, PepsiCo and others. He also participated in evaluation of strategic acquisitions for the company. Previously, Tom was president of BBDO North America and co-CEO of the New York office.  Tom is a member of the Board of Advisers at the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, where he received his master’s degree in journalism in 1967, and a former Trustee of College of the Holy Cross.
>Friday – September 30th from 2:30-3:30PM in Hogan TBA
RSVP: bit.ly/SCawards2016rsvp

 

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-59-31-pmBusiness As Vocation – You have to do well to do good.
JOIN US for dinner and discussion with Tom Beecher ‘56, Chairman of the Board of Barrantys LLC, who will share life lessons from his 50+ years in business. Mr. Beecher is also chair emeritus of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), a nonprofit corporation founded to cultivate a world-class medical campus in downtown Buffalo, and he co-founded a Buffalo Inner-City Scholarship Opportunity Network, which funds scholarships for low-income students. Learn how he managed various businesses, and how ethical business practices adds value to the common good.
>Tuesday, October 4th @ 5:30pm in Hogan 320
Dinner RSVP link: https://goo.gl/gmpExc

 

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-3-00-35-pmThe Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business
DINNER SPEAKER: Ed “Skip” McLaughlin ’78, Author
Do you feel the pull to start your own business? Tired of working for others? Learn from Ed “Skip” McLaughlin, who left his high-level corporate position to start not one but two new businesses. Discover what to do and what not to do to create your own successful startup. “The Purpose Is Profit” eliminates the mystery of becoming an entrepreneur. FREE BOOK INCLUDED.
>Tuesday, October 18th @ 5:30pm – 7:30pm in Hogan 408
DINNER RSVP: http://goo.gl/VmTq7e

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Boston Networking Event: 10/7/2015

HCEG_Alum

Mark your calendars: the Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group’s Alumni Networking Event is on Wednesday, October 7th!

The COES Pre-Business Office is presenting current students the opportunity to connect with alumni who are directly involved in start-ups or are involved with a business looking for start-ups as customers. Held at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the event will consist of a general networking period, allowing students to speak with alumni about their experiences, and a Q&A session with a panel of four Holy Cross alumni.

The COES Pre-Business Office offers at least one networking event per semester, and has been offering this particular event since 2007. Professor David Chu suggests creating a business card for yourself (including your name, class year, email address, and cell phone number), and that you bring a few copies of your resume. In Prof. Chu’s opinion, “the most important thing for a student to ask is, ‘What do you do, and how did you get there from Holy Cross?’” Take this opportunity to learn from people who were in your shoes not too long ago! This is a great chance for students to make connections with HC alumni and solidify their reception networking skills.

Looking for networking tips?

  1. The HCEG student club will be meeting today, 9/29, for the second time this fall. In honor of this upcoming HCEG Networking Event, they’ll be discussing
    networking etiquette and important DOs and DON’Ts. Again the club meeting is tonight (Tues., Sept. 29) in Hogan 402 at 7pm.
  2. The Center for Career Development has put together a handout outlining networking tips. Access the blog here, and stop by their office (Hogan 203) during drop-in hours M-F 1-4 pm and Wednesday 10-12 pm for resume review and more.

The event, titled Graduate School: Accelerating Your Entrepreneurial Trajectory, will run from 6:30-9:00pm on Wednesday, October 7th at MIT of Cambridge, MA. *Students can register for free! Dress is business casual – no jeans. Full details of the event and descriptions of the panelists can be found here. We hope to see you there!

Feel free to stop by the COES Pre-Business Office in Stein 129E or email dchu@holycross.edu with any questions.

— —

Thanks to Catherine Cote ’18, our Career Communications Liason student worker, for her detailed description of this upcoming networking event in Boston. Like she said, hope to see you there! As always – check out the new COES instapage @HCPrebusiness – and watch for future student write-ups of Pre-Business events.

Cassie Gevry
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies