McCloskey New Venture Competition now part of IDEA Week


Mendoza College of Business

Some have compared the University of Notre Dame’s McCloskey New Venture Competition to ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Like the hit TV show, aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their up-and-coming products, services and technologies to a panel of successful business people in hopes of obtaining funding.


The comparison has never been more accurate than this year.


On Friday, April 27, Daymond John, one of ABC’s “sharks,” will be a judge in the final-round of the 2017-18 McCloskey contest. John, founder of FUBU, a hip-hop-inspired apparel brand with sales exceeding $6 billion, will join four other judges, including Matt Rogers, inventor of the Nest thermostat.* Six to eight teams will pitch their concepts to the panel from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Dahnke Ballroom of the Duncan Student Center. It’s open to the public.

Formerly known as the McCloskey Business Plan Competition, the contest predates “Shark Tank” by nine years. Now in its 18th year, McCloskey has helped Notre Dame-affiliated entrepreneurs (students, alumni, faculty and staff) prepare proposals and transitional business plans for their new, growing companies. This time, entrepreneurs from the surrounding community were invited to take part, and many included Notre Dame students on their teams.


Daymond John
Daymond John, successful entrepreneur and star of “Shark Tank”

“My favorite part of the competition is that I get to work with students and build relationships with them — our Notre Dame students are the best, and I enjoy every minute of it,” said Karen Slaggert, director of student entrepreneurship, who oversees the McCloskey competition.


Starting in September, teams go through a series of rounds managed by experienced judges from various industries. In the first round, teams submit an overview. In the second round, they submit a business plan. Teams that make it through those rounds move on to the semifinal and final rounds held in April.


This year, more than 170 teams have participated. Going into the semifinals, the field will have narrowed to 40-50 teams. Fewer than 10 will make it to the final round.

McCloskey is an integral part of the IDEA Center, the collaborative innovation hub dedicated to expanding the technological and societal impact of the University’s innovations. The first-ever IDEA Week takes place April 20-29, during which the last rounds of McCloskey New Venture Competition will take place.

Brian Cho ’19, a finance and applied math major, and his business partner, Peter Moeckel ’20, hope to be among the finalists. The students launched their company, Resonado, in June. Resonado is a consumer electronics company specializing in an innovative speaker technology. The startup has already caught the attention of investors. In January, Elevate, a venture development firm with an office in Innovation Park, awarded Resonado its $25,000 High Potential Startup Grant to get the fledgling company off the ground.


Cho says he has already gained much from the experience.


“The business plan aspect to the competition basically requires one to think about every area of business from finance to marketing and from strategy to accounting, as well as aspects from engineering and other important disciplines. I learned more from writing the required 10-page business plan than I did from sitting in a class for 10 weeks,” Cho said.


More than $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes will be awarded at this year’s competition. Some of the more notable prizes include the $50,000 McCloskey Grand Prize, which is given to the top Notre Dame-affiliated team; the $25,000 Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact; and the $50,000 Start-Up South Bend Elkhart/Elevate Ventures Grand Prize, which will go to the top community-based team.


*Rogers and John will also take part in other IDEA Week events. Rogers will speak on his success creating products on Thursday, April 26 at 2 p.m. in the Mendoza College of Business. John is the keynote speaker for IDEA Week on Thursday at 8 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. 


Contact: Nick Swisher, director of marketing and communications, IDEA Center, 574-631-2984.