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Business contest names winners

Puja Parikh | Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Notre Dame’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies announced the winners of the eighth annual McCloskey Business Plan Competition and the seventh annual Sustainable Social Venture Plan Competition on April 18.

“The McCloskey Competition is intended for traditional entrepreneurial ventures that have not yet been launched or are at the earliest stage of launch,” program manager Melissa Paulsen said. “The Social Venturing or Social Entrepreneurship combines entrepreneurship with a social mission or purpose.”

Graduate students Brian Dunn, Christopher Dunn, Mary Beth Williams and electrical engineering professor J. Nicholas Laneman won the grand prize of $10,000 with their business, Rfware.

Rfware is a software radio that “makes a new generation of electronic communication devices possible – radios that can be adapted to almost any current and future wireless protocol with a simple software upgrade,” according to the competition brochure.

Brian Dunn, who was designated leader and CEO of Rfware plans to use the prize money his team earned to launch the program.

Graduate students Shelia Powenski, Anita Allen, Brad Annis, Heather Annis, Brendan Cooper, Edward Powers and Chris Ziener were awarded the Sustainable Social Venture Plan award with their program, Medxcycle.

Medxcycle collects unused consumable medical items and uses medical equipment that would otherwise be discarded in the United States and resells the equipment to underserved countries.

Powneski got involved in the competition because she’s interested in entrepreneurship.

“[I] used the business plan competition as a crash course in starting the business,” she said. “I knew I could not do it on my own and created a team of individuals with a variety of skills to round out the rest of the team.”

Graduate student Jennifer Martini was awarded the runner-up spot in the competition for the company Mibospi.

“Mibospi is an acronym for ‘mind, body, spirit,’ and it is a line of exclusive luxury yoga accessories that make women feel individual, feminine and fashion-forward,” Martini said. “We had several advisors from the fashion, retail and manufacturing industry that provided us with guidance and continue to help us as we develop our business.”

Martini’s team of four started working on their business venture in August.

“The four of us live in four different cities and three different time zones. We have been working together since August and didn’t meet in person until the night before the competition,” she said. “We had spent countless hours on e-mail and conference calls to get us ready for the competition. It was so exciting to finally meet in person.”

Martini said even though her team didn’t win she is glad she participated in the competition.

“We were the runner-up so we were a bit disappointed as we hoped to win the competition,” Martini said. “However, the experience and feedback was invaluable. The two days on campus were amazing and gave us additional validation that our idea for this business could work. It was such a thrilling experience, and not one we will soon forget.”