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 

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! 

HC Launch Student Group Host Local Serial Entrepreneur

two men sitting at the front of class

This year, HC Launch has been connecting with the local Worcester startup community.  Recently, the club visited MultiScale Systems, Geisel Software, and is planning a visit to Redemption Rock Brewery later this spring. As with many startups though, one of the companies we were working with only had a desk at a coworking space.  This, we decided, wasn’t suitable for a site visit so we pivoted!

On Monday, March 20th, the HC Launch student group hosted local serial entrepreneur, Jonathan Lincoln. Rob Murner, director of the Ciocca Center and entrepreneur in residence, started the conversation and students were able to learn from Jonathan’s three ventures: Continue reading “HC Launch Student Group Host Local Serial Entrepreneur”

Entrepreneurship Club Visits Local Startup

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.

There are two primary takeaways from this experience for me and according to Brian, these are two of the key ingredients to his company’s success.  Continue reading “Entrepreneurship Club Visits Local Startup”

Thomas Cotter 17 and Brendan Quinn 06 Advocate for Learning and Discovery

Headshots of one students and two alumni.

Welcome to Season 3 of the Mission Driven Alumni Podcast!  New episodes will be released throughout the spring and summer of 2022.

In this episode, Conor Joslin ’23 interviews Thomas Cotter ’17 and Brendan Quinn ’06.  Thomas and Brendan met while Thomas was a student at Holy Cross. Their professional journeys converge thanks to the app INDX, a startup co-founded by Thomas and funded by Brendan. Through INDX, they hope to channel their energy and create a product that fosters learning, discovery and growth for all. True entrepreneurs at heart, they show us what’s possible when you take a problem and focus your efforts on finding a solution.

Interview originally recorded in March 2022.

 

Holy Cross Students Make an Impact During Pandemic

Three Holy Cross students interviewed by WMUR.

Mary Anne Wiley ’22 and Paul Wiley ’20, along with brother Matthew, started making face shields after their parents fell ill with COVID-19.  As they safely recovered, the siblings started making face shields to donate.  Several dozen face shields were sent to their local hospital in Concord.   The Holy Cross students explored entrepreneurship through HC Launch, the student run incubator through the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society.  Back on campus Mary Anne & Paul Wiley started Wilox, a company creating what they call a long-lasting hand sanitizer due out in a few weeks. We are excited to learn more about this development!

 

2018 Women in Business Conference Recap

Reflecting on Hurricane María and the devastation that hit Puerto Rico, the Ferré Rangel sisters say the power of their belief — to do good as both businesswomen and corporate citizens — was tested last year. As Loren puts it, the first order of business was to step into, not away from, the fray – a lesson, first learned on The Hill, that transcends geography.

Thank you to our keynotes, Loren Ferré Rangel ’92, chief creative officer of Grupo Ferré Rangel, María Eugenia Ferré Rangel ’89, chief communications officer of Grupo Ferré Rangel, and chairperson of the board of directors, GFR Media, and to Dean Michele Murray, VP for Student Affairs, Dean of Students, at Holy Cross for an inspiring interview.

WANT MORE?

Join us next year for the annual conference on Saturday, November 2, 2019! Thanks for reading, Cassie

Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Student Engagement
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society