2020 McCloskey New Venture Competition Results

Author: Nicholas Swisher

Alyssa Chong, NearWave; Michael Cali, Christopher Cali, Sam Njoroge, Reginald Whitaker, Camille Zyniewicz, ViewtiqueAlyssa Chong, NearWave; Michael Cali, Christopher Cali, Sam Njoroge, Reginald Whitaker, Camille Zyniewicz, Viewtique

The 20th McCloskey New Venture Competition awarded more than $400,000 in cash and in-kind prizes today during a livestream ceremony that culminated the event. The competition was held online this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NearWave received the $50,000 McCloskey Grand Prize for teams founded by University of Notre Dame students or alumni. Viewtique received the $50,000 Startup South Bend-Elkhart/Elevate Ventures Grand Prize for community-based teams. 

More than 900 entrepreneurs, judges and mentors have participated since the 2020 contest opened. 

While many other national pitch competitions were postponed or cancelled, Patti Reinhardt, director of student engagement at the IDEA Center, organized a remote strategy for the 30 teams and 27 judges who reached the semifinals. “McCloskey begins in the fall. The teams put far too much work into their ventures for us to cancel the competition,” said Reinhardt. “We were grateful that all of our teams and the overwhelming majority of our sponsors stuck with us this year. I’m very thankful for the opportunity they have provided.” 

Semifinalist teams supplied videotaped six-minute presentations and answered questions from the judges by phone or Zoom. The six finalists gave their presentations in a live Zoom meeting. These final presentations were recorded and are available to watch on the IDEA Center’s website

Judges for the final round were Ashley Kalinauskas, CEO and co-founder, Torigen Pharmaceuticals; Will McLeod, co-founder and chief of product at Keen Home Inc.; Rob McColgan; founder and co-CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts; and Evan Wray, CEO and co-founder of Mavely, all former McCloskey winners; Heidi Beidinger, director of the Master of Science in Global Health at Notre Dame; and Doisha Stewart, vice president of Allegion. 

Since the competition began in 2001 with 70 teams and $30,000 in awards, 2,286 teams with 7,000 participants have been awarded more than $1.65 million in prizes, and 2,900 judges and mentors have contributed. 

Following is a listing of the awardees; descriptions appear below.

Award Description Recipient 1 Recipient 2 Value
McCloskey Grand Prize $50,000 cash award NearWave   $50,000
Startup South Bend-Elkhart/Elevate Ventures Grand Prize $50,000 cash award Viewtique   $50,000
Marshall County Prize for Greatest Social Impact Total of $25,000 awarded to teams demonstrating greatest social impact NearWave   $25,000
IrishAngels Award Opportunity to present to the IrishAngels; estimated value $25- $250K NearWave   $25,000
College of Science Award Best Venture coming out of the college of science STUDIA   $10,000
Elevate Ventures Pitch Award Opportunity to pitch to Elevate Ventures’ Community Ideation Board Atlas Energy Systems Taxedo $20,000
Lavrock Best Graduate Venture $10,000 cash award for best graduate venture PWR Training   $10,000
Equifund Best Undergraduate Venture $10,000 cash award for best undergraduate venture EnSpice   $10,000
RSM US, LLP Prize for Accounting, tax and related services $10,000 in in-kind accounting, tax, and/or consultative business services Viewtique   $10,000
Workman Nydegger IP Prize Award of 1 provisional patent application (preparation and filing), with an estimated value of up to $6,000, not exceeding this limit. Agape   $6,000
First State Bank Business Banking Award $3,000 cash; up to $2,000 in banking services EnSpice   $5,000
Sutherland Family Award for Best Presentation $5,000 cash award The Ugly Company   $5,000
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP IP Prize 1 prior art search, best biotech invention Atlas Energy Systems   $3,000
Palo Alto Software Award – Best Written Undergraduate Plan $1,500 cash award Debtly   $1,500
Palo Alto Software Award – Best Written Graduate Plan $1,500 cash award Taxedo   $1,500
Plug and Play Tech Center Camp Awards $50,000 in in-kind services plus $25K investment (offered to 3 teams) Debtly won the cash Offered a chance to pitch: Flowaste, Bee Brand, NearWave and EnSpice $100,000

Summaries of Teams That Won Awards



Team Leader: Nicholas Lampson BBA Business Analytics 2020

Contact Email: nlampson@nd.edu 

Team Members: Matthew Kowalczyk BBA Finance 2020, Summit Byrne BBA Business Analytics 2020, Daniel Smyth BS Mechanical Engineering 2020

This venture is looking to meet the unmet needs of at-home hospice patients and family caregivers by designing a new commode-style product to help make the process of going to the bathroom safer, cleaner, and more dignified as patients near the end of life.


Atlas Energy Systems

Team Leader: Scott Noble MBA 2017

Contact Email: scott.noble@atlasenergysystems.org 

Team Members: Ian Hamilton, Steven Ream BS Civil Engineering 2021, Megan O’Gorman BBA Business Analytics and BA Spanish 2022, Gabriel Krut BA Film 2021, Television and Theater 2021, Luis Urrea BA Economics and Spanish 2022

Atlas Energy Systems is commercializing the science of Thermionics for direct heat-to-electricity generation. Thermionic energy converters contribute to more sustainable energy consumption by dramatically increasing system efficiencies and providing remote, off-grid power. Our R&D breakthroughs allow multiple industries, with a wide array of applications, to benefit from the conversion of heat to usable electricity.

Bee Brand

Team Leader: Keian Gatewood BA Economics 2023

Contact Email: kgatewoo@nd.edu 

Team Members: Abeera Akhtar Social Entrepreneurship Keough School of Global Affairs 2020, Julia Reyes Economics 2020, Georgia Twersky Economics 2020, JaeYoung Chang Computer Science 2022    

Bee Brand is a company that offers a platform for beekeepers to convert their hobby into a small business, allowing them to market and sell to health-conscious consumers that are struggling to find local honey. We hope to take away the burden involved with selling honey. Likewise, we hope to allow consumers to always be able to buy honey from their local area with ease. We plan to teach consumers about the bees and show them what they can do in order to support the bee population that is rapidly declining, and we are donating a portion of all sales to support bee charities.


Team Leader: Daniel Jimenez BBA Accounting 2020

Contact Email: djimene3@nd.edu 

Team Members: Iesha Magallanes BS Computer Science and Design 2020, Samuel Adofo ACMS 2020, Joel Castro Computer Science 2020, Nathaniel Bromkowski Mathematics 2020 

Debtly is a personal finance company that is dedicated to helping users eliminate high-interest debt and build long-term wealth. The underlying issue is that many Americans who don’t have traditional credit history are unable to find affordable credit options. We offer two solutions: 1) we use an unconventional credit risk model to better predict creditworthiness and 2) our mobile app helps users better manage their debt. This can potentially save users thousands of dollars in interest and fees.


Team Leader: Kyle Murphy BA Economics 2020

Contact Email: kmurph42@nd.edu 

EnSpice creates seasonings and spices that contain a complete plant-based multivitamin in every serving. EnSpice is reinventing nutrition for consumers by empowering them to add the nutrients they need, in the natural form they want, directly to their diet.


Team Leader: Rian McDonnell ESTEEM 2020

Contact Email: rmcdonne@nd.edu 

Team Members: Alex Shackleton, Anna Rafferty Lynam, Patrick Faley Computer Science 2022

If food waste was a country it would be the 3rd largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, with 1/3 of food produced for human consumption being wasted. While this chronic misuse occurs, 11% of the world’s population is severely undernourished and we have entered a climate crisis. FloWaste gathers data on food waste and derives recommendations to allow the user to make changes, reducing their food waste and consume food more sustainably.


Team Leader: Roy Stillwell PhD Electrical Engineering 2020 

Contact Email: rstillwe@nd.edu 

Team Members: Alyssa Chong BS Computer Engineering 2022, Murtaza Valika MBA 2020, Hua Xue MBA 2020, Lyla Senn BS Chemical Engineering 2020

NearWave is developing a new handheld medical imaging device for deep tissue imaging. Our current focus is using the device for breast cancer therapy monitoring, and in the long-term, a potential technology for early breast cancer screening. NearWave utilizes near infrared laser light to measure blood, lipid, and water (0 – 4cm. depth) in a non-invasive, safe, and easy to use handheld device that transmits the image wirelessly to a mobile device or laptop. It was started by two graduate students and a professor in the engineering department at Notre Dame.


Team Leader: Madelyn Nelson BS Computer Science 2017

Contact Email: mnelso12@alumni.nd.edu 

Team Members: Axel Bjallerstedt Management Consulting 2021, Brianna Hoelting Computer Engineering 2019, Timothy Zielke Finance and Political Science 2022

Nota is a sheet music synchronization app for live music performances. Ensemble leaders use Nota to instantly coordinate sheet music across entire bands, increasing setlist flexibility though seamless song changes and drastically reducing sheet music preparation time. Nota reshapes the sheet music industry by providing a digital solution to a centuries-old problem, empowering music educators and performers to easily build, use, and manage sheet music libraries.

PWR Training

Team Leader: Phoebe Tzannes MBA 2020

Contact Email: ptzannes@nd.edu 

Team Members: Sydney Anderson BA Psychology 2020, Grace Petrosini BS Science Business 2021, Audrey Kiefer MBA 2020, Abigail Dolan BA English and Spanish 2020, Allison Berding ESTEEM 2020

Level Development (formerly PWR Training) is a sports performance program specifically designed for the pre-collegiate female athlete. Through group training sessions, Level trains athletes to be stronger, faster and more durable with strength and agility, injury prevention, and mental strength building tactics. Every phase is guided by highly trained coaches who have worked at the collegiate level and are passionate about training the next generation of elite female athletes in a facility with equipment specifically designed for their needs.


Team Leader: Sebastian Murgueitio Ramirez PhD History and Philosophy 2021

Contact Email: smurguei@nd.edu 

Team Members: Leonardo Uribe Castano, Tarik Brown BS Computer Science 2022, Ashabari Majumdar PhD Physics 2022, Benjamin Middleton PhD Philosophy 2020, Stacy Sivinski PhD English 2021

Our website platform, STUDIA, aims to revolutionize science education at the high school and college level around the world. By providing easy access to a database that contains hundreds of physics problems with step-by-step solutions, STUDIA will make a positive impact on both students and educators. Students can use the database to practice what they are learning in class and better prepare for their next test or homework assignment. Teachers, on the other hand, will turn to our service to offer detailed explanations about how to apply the lessons of their lectures to concrete problems.


Team Leader: Samuel Cowdery ESTEEM 2020

Contact Email: scowdery@nd.edu 

Team Members: Chen Zhang MS Accountancy 2020, Zachary McKay BBA Finance 2023

Taxedo is a mobile accounting and expense-tracking platform built to empower self-employed workers towards financial independence. With the massive shift of the workforce towards independent work and the rise of the “gig economy,” there is a growing need for mobile bookkeeping software in the market of freelancers and sole-proprietorships. Taxedo will leverage AI and data analytics to maximize tax-deductions, track income, and classify expenses to minimize the burden of accounting and maximize the profitability of self-employed professionals.

The Ugly Company

Team Leader: Ben Moore MBA 2020

Contact Email: bmoore22@nd.edu 

Team Members: Dan Weissenhofer MBA 2020

The Ugly Company exists to prevent food waste and add value back to family farms. Between 2-4 million pounds of produce is wasted EVERYDAY at farms within a 15-mile radius of Kingsburg, CA. This fruit is perfectly safe to eat, it is simply cosmetically challenged. We upcycle ugly fruit that currently has no market, and convert it into healthy snack products. Our Hello! I’m Ugly branded fruit snacks that do not contain preservatives, added sugar, or GMOs. Each package sold prevents over 1 pound of ugly fresh fruit from becoming waste.


Team Leader: Christopher Cali

Contact Email: chris@shopviewtique.com 

Team Members: Camille Zyniewicz BA Graphic Design 2019, Michael Cali, Reginald Whittaker Bachelor of Arts 2020

Viewtique is one website to shop your local fashion boutiques. We make it drastically easier for buyers to buy and sellers to sell by giving boutique owners digital user experiences to meet their shoppers’ online demands. Online traffic increases store foot traffic and vice versa, but individual boutiques don’t have access to best-in-class online UX to offer shoppers and so miss out on this. Viewtique solves this by creating local online fashion districts equipped with bespoke UX for designed for local boutique shopping. Viewtique is generating revenue and has organic customer referral sales.

Originally published by Nicholas Swisher at ideacenter.nd.edu on April 24, 2020.