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. 

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. 

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 

Students Pitch Solutions for Local Business at Innovation Challenge

Group presentation

On Sunday, March 19th, HC Launch hosted its first in-person Innovation Challenge event since the pandemic. It was also Launch’s first event in the newly-built Prior Performing Arts Center.  The challenge was coordinated with a local business, Giesel Software Inc. (GSI), and some of the real-world problems they are facing.  Students pitched in response to one of two challenges; 1) to develop a product or 2) propose a real-estate solution for a rapidly growing business.

GSI’s CEO and founder, Brian Giesel, sat on the judging panel, along with alums Will Spangenberg ‘22 and Ted Pidcock ‘88. Continue reading “Students Pitch Solutions for Local Business at Innovation Challenge”

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”

Nearly 100 Students Participate in Entrepreneurship Program

entrepreneurship class

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.

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!

Ciocca Center Announces Virtual Summer Opportunities

Holy Cross hat worn on student.

The Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society has been an important partner in helping students to stay ahead of the consequences caused by the pandemic.  There have been many unexpected twists and turns leaving students unsure of Certificate Program progress, summer internship plans and what to expect this fall when classes resume.  The Ciocca Center has partnered with various Holy Cross offices to try to mitigate some of these new realities with additional funding and new opportunities.

Read on to see what’s happening and get involved! Continue reading “Ciocca Center Announces Virtual Summer Opportunities”

Annual Innovation Challenge Solves Campus Problems

HC Launch, the student incubator through the Ciocca 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”