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Mendoza business competition offers $40K

Casey Kenny | Monday, November 9, 2009

The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Mendoza College of Business has invited students to submit business plans and compete for a total of $40,000 in prize money as part of its annual Business Plan Competition.

“The Business Plan Competition is one of Mendoza’s biggest events of the year,” Karen Slaggert, the Gigot Center program manager, said. “It is a great educational opportunity to test entrepreneurial skills and have some fun.”

The Competition features two categories, according to the Gigot Center’s Web site. The McCloskey Business Plan Competition “focuses on ventures that have not yet been launched or are in the earliest stages of launch,” while the Social Venture Plan Competition “fosters a spirit of collaboration between business and social ventures — business plans with a social and/or environmental mission/purpose.”

These two categories of the Competition are in their tenth and ninth years, respectively.
“The competition has seen many great submissions develop to be quite successful,” Slaggert said. “Better World Books is a great example of this — it started as a social venture submission and has developed into something of great impact.”

The Business Plan Competition is open to anyone, but each team must have at least one member who is either a full-time Notre Dame student or an alumnus.

In an attempt to draw entrepreneurs from a broad range of backgrounds and facilitate networking, the Gigot Center recently created TeamMatch on Facebook to enable potential competitors to post and find team members with desired skills and interests.

“We really want to get the word out about the competition because some of the best ideas come from outside of Mendoza — from engineers, liberal arts students and others,” Slaggert said.

Senior Andy Steves, an industrial design and Italian double major, is entering this year’s McCloskey category with his venture, Weekend Student Adventures in Europe, which offers weekend tour packages to American students studying in Europe.

“The Competition has given me the opportunity to meet with advisors, flush out my idea and develop it to the point of actually pursuing it after I graduate this May,” Steves said. “It has really opened my eyes to the business world.”

Many teams hope to make an impact in the world with their proposed ventures.

“We are entering the Social Venture Competition with our venture, Response, Inc., because we believe we can make a difference in the lives of orphans in Uganda and students here in the states,” senior Michelle Carlise, team leader of Response, Inc., said. 
Carlise said Response would focus on addressing the needs of orphans in Uganda through business.

“Response is a faith-based organization that focuses on responding to the call of Christ both at home and abroad — we plan to support our orphanage in Uganda through touring with music and Ugandan-made crafts here in the states, and by providing financial services to the Ugandan community,” she said.

Response Inc.’s team composition represents the variety found in the competition. The team consists of two Notre Dame seniors, a 2007 Notre Dame graduate, a senior at Bethel College and a junior at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, with backgrounds in film, theology, economics, public health, music, and ministry experience.

The deadline for submissions to the Competition is today. Details can be found at www.nd.edu/~entrep/