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TOMS Shoes team wins competition

CARLY LANDON | Friday, April 16, 2010

A team representing TOMS Shoes brought home the $1,000 top prize in the Notre Dame Entrepreneurship Society’s signature Case Bowl, which gives teams a chance to research products and make presentations.

Sponsored by Gino’s East Pizza in Granger, the Case Bowl featured three teams and was held Wednesday night in the Jordan Auditorium in Mendoza at 7 p.m. Red Bull and Clif Bar were the other two companies represented.

Each team, comprised of three to four members, was given 20 minutes to discuss its company’s history, its current operations and an examination of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — known in the business world as a “SWOT analysis.”

“Red Bull’s presentation was fittingly characterized by energy and excitement while TOMS used the emotional, cause-driven part of their company to define their presentation,” Entrepreneurship Society vice president and Case Bowl organizer Tom Haylon said. “Clif Bar relied on their passionate speaking and innovative videos to put on a great performance.”

Group performances were assessed by three University professors serving as judges based evaluations on their organization, presentation skills, stage presence and creativity.
Judges’ votes determined half of the final scores, with the other half coming via text-message responses from audience members.

“The team presenting on TOMS narrowly edged Red Bull to become the 2010 Case Bowl champion,” Haylon said.

The TOMS team was comprised of five freshmen — Alex Brolick, Erin Cavanaugh, Cristina Couri, Ryan Gisriel and Ally Scalo.

Gisriel, the team’s captain, attributed the team’s success to its hard work.

“I think we won because we had weekly meetings and we worked hard to get our organization, our speeches, our presentation down solid.  We knew we were battling nerves in a larger hall to a larger audience,” Gisriel said.

Gisriel also said the team was motivated by TOMS’ business model and leadership.

“The reason we were so committed to weekly meetings and a more involved process was because we wanted to do Blake Mycofkie and TOMS Shoes justice,” Gisriel said. “We really were captivated by Blake’s passion, and as a result we tried to translate that passion into our presentation.”

Gisriel said the team will continue to be involved with TOMS Shoes and the Entrepreneurship Society.

“With the money, we are each going to buy a pair of TOMS Shoes so not only do we each get a new pair of shoes, but also we are each giving a pair to a child in need,” Gisriel said. “Also, all five members are looking to increase our role in the Entrepreneurship Society and contribute to this terrific club as the years progress.”

The Case Study Bowl is the Entrepreneurship Society’s signature event, based on the Harvard Business School’s own case study program. The three-team competition is held once each semester.