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2017 McCloskey Business Plan Competition -- ESTEEM Award Winners

Last week four current ESTEEM students participated as finalists in the 2016-2017 McCloskey Business Plan Competition at the University of Notre Dame.  

These students reached the finals through a long process that began in October 2016 with over 130 teams submitting ideas to judges for Round 1.  Teams making it to Round 2 were submitted a business plan in February.  These were judged and semi-finalist teams were announced in mid-March.  Of these 20 semi-finalist teams, 8 included ESTEEM students.  

Sandbox Stories: Cole Cravath

Cravath Cole

Cole Cravath came to ESTEEM determined to seize every opportunity that came his way. With just a year in Notre Dame and South Bend, there is no time to procrastinate.

“What’s cool about ESTEEM is it’s kind of like all or nothing when you’re there,” says Cravath, who figures he missed opportunities as an undergraduate at Boston College because he put things off for senior year. “You’re part of it, and you’re given a lot of opportunities. Every time one of them crops up, I say, ‘I can either do this or not do this, but I’m not going to have an opportunity to do this in the future.’ I only have one opportunity to do this, and that’s now. I think that stems over into a lot of different sorts of activities, even small social engagements. There might be a networking event with just a few people from the community. I might have been tempted to stay home that night. Because I really have only that one year, I’m going to go.”

After ESTEEM: Abbey Santanello

Abbey Santanello Webpage

Abbey Santanello entered ESTEEM in 2015 with a running start: during her last semester as a Notre Dame senior, she and her father, Dr. Steven Santanello, had come up with the idea for a medical device that would make minimally invasive surgery more efficient. A year after she accelerated the innovation, using it as her Founder’s Idea capstone project during ESTEEM, the

My Week in ESTEEM: March 20 - 24

Cravath Cole

The arrival of ESTEEM back on campus after our famed Silicon Valley trip happened in something of a whirlwind. Many students spent extra time in the Valley attending job interviews, networking, and exploring some of the Bay Area’s finer cultural points including the Golden Gate Bridge and niche restaurants like The Cheese Board. In my case I did just that and after arriving Sunday morning to my humble apartment, felt it was time to get back down to business.

Thesis Spotlight: Structured Immunity

Hardwicke David

Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. Shockingly, the number of annual new cancer cases will rise to 22 million within the next two decades. The path to beating this deadly disease has been a long and arduous one, fraught with setbacks. Humanity has managed to keep cancer somewhat at bay by using the three pillars of cancer treatment: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Surgery acts directly at the site and removes the tumorous tissue. Radiation therapy blasts cancerous cells with X-rays and chemotherapy delivers toxic chemicals to the body which poisons the malignancies. These traditional methods are still the go-to options for people who suffer from the disease. While these modes of treatment have been highly effective at beating cancer into remission, they are also associated with negative patient side effects as they often destroy large populations of healthy cells.

Silicon Valley 2017: Day Six

Hughan Margot

On Friday morning we packed up the vans and headed to SRI International in Menlo Park, CA. The Stanford Research Institute was established in 1946 by trustees at Stanford University to encourage commercialization of research in order to support economic development in the area. Since then SRI has continued to work towards creating world-changing solutions to make people safer, healthier, and more productive. We were lucky enough to meet with Dr. Dennis Tsu, the Executive Director of corporate strategy at SRI. Dr. Tsu went through some of the largest challenges facing civilization today and what research projects they are exploring to address these challenges. He spoke about population growth, antibiotic resistance, the water crisis, and the necessity of renewable energy sources. As we are all preparing to launch our careers into various industries, it important that we keep in mind that macro needs of our global community and remain committed to furthering the common good.

Silicon Valley 2017: Day Five

Molloy Aaron

Thursday was filled with action and the group started early with breakfast at 7am in Hotel Aria. The class dispersed in our motorcade of minivans and headed off on yet another adventurous day of innovation in Palo Alto.

The first group visited Google, where they were met by Notre Dame alums working on an array of projects from Google maps enhancement to Google’s rocket program. Simultaneously a group of students visited Stryker, a med-tech devices company. Students had the opportunity to visit the neurovascular center and business unit, in addition to a panel discussion on both the neuro and endoscopic operations. Next, groups departed for Survey Monkey and IDEO. The Survey Monkey group had the opportunity to hear from multiple guest speakers and panellists, with a surprise stop in at cubicle belonging to the CEO of Survey Monkey, Zander Lurie. At the same time, Dennis Boyle welcomed students to IDEO where they had lunch and toured their facilities, followed by a Q&A session. Finally, the groups departed for their last visit of the day with the first group visiting Embark. The group was welcomed by Somodro Gupta, a software developer and a good friend. Here we heard from the CEO about their autonomous driving truck start-up. YouTube proved very interesting also, the business offices and more importantly the gaming area were explored. Stanford BioDesign was said to be a highlight of the trip for students who had the amazing opportunity to participate.…

Silicon Valley 2017: Day Four

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On Wednesday, the 4th day of our Silicon Valley trip, six ESTEEM students and I chose to spend the shadow day with AJ Altman, Founder & CEO of Hover. Hover offers an innovative software that allows you to get a 3D property with all the measurements from photos taken with a phone.

Silicon Valley 2017: Day Four

As the other ESTEEM students were preparing for their shadow day – a day visiting interesting, San Francisco-based companies -  my day was designed to be more atypical.  Since my Capstone Thesis industry sponsor is based Downtown, German, Karl and I were lined up to pitch our projects and financial models to the global innovation head of this financial institution

Silicon Valley 2017: Day Three

After a day full of speakers on Monday, we were excited to mix things up on Tuesday and kick off the company visits. The day started again at the Notre Dame California campus where we heard from Jim McVeigh, ND alum and CEO/Co-founder of Cyndx. His company is a fin-tech firm with two divisions – Cyndx Advisors LLC and Cyndx Networks LLC. “Networks” uses data it obtains from third parties to recommend investors that licensors should target and provides data service platforms for communication between companies seeking capital/strategic opportunities with institutional investors. “Advisors” provides growth stage companies with access to experienced, licensed investment banking professionals. It was intriguing to learn about this innovative way of banking that utilizes data synthesis to match companies with potential investors.

Silicon Valley 2017: Day Two

After a successful and scattered collection of the ESTEEM class on Sunday night, our group was eagerly awaiting the Monday speakers and experiences to officially launch our trip to Silicon Valley. The day would unfold to reveal a series of innovative leaders in the Valley, followed by an awe-inspiring visit to the at Stanford University. It was officially time to put the Vegas casinos, Yosemite views and beach waves behind us when the larger-than-life Aisling MacRunnels stepped in front of us to kick off the morning at the AT&T building in downtown Palo Alto.…

Silicon Valley 2017: Day One

Zellerhoff Tori

Today we all made our way to Silicon Valley from pre-spring break trips all across the country. I came to the sunny 80 degree California day from Seattle, where I went skiing yesterday, so it was a bit of a weather change. I flew into San Jose (SJC) where I met up with Sarah Prezek, Nancy Nguyen, and Ethan Sauer to split an Uber to our hotel. Our driver happened to work at Accenture, which was funny because we will all be working at consulting firms after graduation (Avanade, Deloitte, and Booz Allen Hamilton). As he was driving he told us all about their innovation lab and pointed out cool companies that we passed on the way. When we arrived at the hotel he even took our picture.

My Week in ESTEEM: February 27 - March 3

Foo Ken

My Week in ESTEEM has been filled with fun activities as the month of February ends. First and foremost, the weather has been gorgeous all week, so it is fitting that we exercise more! Typically, almost every day from last semester, Nessan Harpur and I will play basketball and lift afterwards. In addition, there have been around 10 other ESTEEM students who have been regularly playing some intense pickup basketball. Luckily, I have motivated myself to run 8-9 mile run exploring the Holy Cross and St. Mary’s campus, and St. Mary’s is a beautiful area to roam. Hopefully, I will be in excellent shape for the Holy Half and ESTEEM bike trip in the next few months.

After ESTEEM: John Flatley

When the Bay Area company SharePractice closed a few months after he joined, John Flatley viewed it as another item checked off his bucket list -- experiencing being among the 9 out of 10 startups that fail. That’s how fully the 2011 ESTEEM graduate embraces the entrepreneurial mindset and the “middle space” bridge between technology, entrepreneurship, and business. “Even though things changed, it didn't scare me away because I still wanted the experience,” he says. Flatley already had four fast-rising years at Google and a break to explore Asia, Europe, and, on a motorcycle, North America. So he set a new goal – move to Chicago – and achieved it through a job with Raise Marketplace, the world’s largest gift card marketplace, where he’s working now.

Sandbox Stories: Marisa Cameron


Cameron Marisa

Marisa Cameron was earning a mathematics degree at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where the AbbVie pharmaceutical company has a major office, when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2014. “In the hospital, I was so touched by the whole health care industry and had never seen the whole side of it, whether it was the doctors and nurses in the hospital. It was a terrible experience but really eye-opening. I knew I wanted to go into health care.”…

Lunch & Learn: Randy Glein

Randy Glein sees innovation as the “flag bearer of progress, providing the ability to transform markets, economies, and ultimately, lives.”

Rare Disease Research Symposium: ESTEEM Students Reflect

Zupan Madeline

Kenney Jack

This past weekend, the University of Notre Dame - in conjunction with the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases - hosted its annual Rare Disease Conference. This was a two-day event covering both laboratory science and benchtop research discoveries in addition to patient outreach and rare disease community-building. The unique opportunity to mix cutting edge research alongside first-hand experience from rare disease patients and their family was an incredible experience for the students, faculty, and members of the Notre Dame community.

Sandbox Stories: Shawn Cook

Cook Shawn

When Shawn Cook’s Army assignment officer announced that he was selected to go to graduate school again, Cook, who had already earned a master’s in geological engineering, started thinking about what could serve the country as well as position him for life after his 20-year military career. He chose ESTEEM.…

Lunch & Learn: Celeste Ford

Celeste Ford

Recently the ESTEEM Program was privileged to hear the stories, lessons, and serendipities of an extraordinary entrepreneur: Mrs. Celeste Ford, Founder and CEO of the global systems engineering and project management firm Stellar Solutions, Inc. With insightful anecdotes about her professional journey and honest appraisals of her own industry, Celeste provided a unique perspective into the process of starting a company, her values as a CEO, and her goals for the business she’s built from scratch.…

Lunch & Learn: Dennis Boyle

Dennis Boyle

February started off with a Lunch and Learn with Dennis Boyle a Notre Dame alum and founding partner of design firm IDEO. Dennis spoke about his journey to date and the role of empathy in his work life. As part of the ESTEEM program, we all have become familiar with the importance of design thinking in solving business problems and how crucial it is to put the customer center stage. Dennis reiterated this point again and gave us some tips on how as STEM entrepreneurs we can act and think like designers.

My Week in ESTEEM: Startup Weekend 2017

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Let me begin by explaining Startup Weekend. This is an event in which developers, business gurus, startup enthusiasts, designers and more come together to pitch startup ideas, form teams around those ideas, and then work together to develop a working prototype, business model, and presentation. However, as the name implies, this is all to be completed in 52 hours. Yup. From Friday night to early afternoon on Sunday, we work to come as close as we can to launching a viable business.…

Sandbox Stories: Brendan Hughes

Hughes Brendan

Brendan Hughes came to ESTEEM with an undergraduate major in biology, a minor in entrepreneurship, and a side identity as DJ Lumba based on his flannel shirt, bushy beard, and long hair when he bought a beginner DJ board on a whim as a Stonehill College freshman. His gigs have grown from school parties to the Boston bar scene to weddings and other social events, and he’s upgraded to a four-deck NS7III system. He performed at an ESTEEM tailgate last fall under a huge banner with his logo.…

After ESTEEM: Chris Freise

Photo of ESTEEM Alum Chris Freise

Chris Freise, who graduated with the third ESTEEM class in 2012, kept a copy of his thesis business plan for reference when he got an idea for his own company two years later – a fitness app to solve his own problem of inconsistent access to a gym and an unhealthy reliance on fast food. He learned to pivot from his original plan through real-world experience that has propelled his company, Updown Fitness, to better alignment with market needs.…

My Week in ESTEEM: January 23-27

My week in ESTEEM began with a typical Monday, a long run in the morning in preparation for the Notre Dame Holy Half Marathon, thesis and school work in the afternoon, and classes in the evening. I could not believe it had already been a week since Zach arrived at my doorstep on Long Island after a long flight from Ireland, where we ended our winter breaks, before heading back to school. Our first class was sales and sales management, taught by Chris Stevens, the founder of Keurig and an individual with great impersonations. Not only does he teach us about the fundamentals of sales (as an occupation), but also his words go far beyond that, as he reveals the importance of values such as family, country, honesty, and integrity. …

Notre Dame students win second place in Disney Imagineering design competition

An interdisciplinary team of four Notre Dame students -- including current ESTEEM student Madeline Zupan -- won second place Friday (January 27) in the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition.

Group 1

The competition, which aims to seek out and nurture the next generation of Disney Imagineers, challenged teams to apply the same design principles used in creating Disney’s famous theme parks and resorts in order to envision new outdoor spaces within their own universities that address the needs of students, faculty, and visitors, while providing a respite from the stresses of everyday life.…

Sandbox Stories: David Laston

“It seemed like the perfect mesh,” says Laston, who joined this year’s class after about 18 months at Cummins, where he started as a lab tech and moved to research and development. “Entrepreneurship was definitely something I’d thought about – later in my life I’d like to own my own business or manage a business or startup. When I came here I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. I knew it would open up a lot of career options.”David Laston, who earned a degree in chemistry from Franklin College and went to work for the giant engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Ind., always knew he wanted to go back to school. When he heard about ESTEEM, he knew where to go.…