Mark Hubbard: ESTEEM Professor Gives Students “Commercial-Grade” Experience

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Notre Dame professor and “Entrepreneur in Residence” Mark Hubbard is no stranger to building, analyzing and executing business ideas.

Hubbard -- who has held a dizzying number of high-level corporate positions, has started and run a number of ventures and is even a certified architect -- helps his students get the most from his real-world experience.

“We want students to step up and do commercial-grade projects,” says Hubbard, who focuses with his students on pre-launch analysis of business ideas, both in terms of marketability and financially.

Experience Is, As Always, the Best Teacher

Hubbard began as an architecture student at Notre Dame, and after graduating, pursued an MBA from the Wharton School. Hubbard started his career in Cincinnati in 1977 -- albeit not in his previous field of architecture. A job at Taft Broadcasting led him into the world of media, which would eventually find Hubbard the COO spot at Osbourne Communications in New York.

After a period in the C-suite at Osbourne, Hubbard left to blaze his own path as a media consultant. Hubbard worked with clients like media giant Clear Channel, where he helped the company grow to it’s present massive size through their mergers and acquisitions department.

In 2002, Hubbard became a founder at a Massachusetts technology and security startup, which led to an interest in startups themselves -- and applying his knowledge to the startup process. Hubbard next returned to consulting, focusing on media, sports and entertainment, expert witness work and appraisals and valuations.

Hubbard then began his life as an “Entrepreneur in Residence” at Notre Dame’s business school, as well as teaching at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Ever the practitioner, Hubbard now teaches at Notre Dame’s ESTEEM, is a guest lecturer at the ND business school, while continuing work at Rensselaer Polytechnic and founding a new venture of his own, a startup that is set to revolutionize the shopping experience with a patented system to do away with paper coupons.

Oh, and did we mention Hubbard’s also a Notre Dame football fanatic and has written two books about the history of the Fighting Irish, being named an honorary team member in the process for his passion and work? Not a guy who spends time binge-watching Netflix, we’d imagine. (Classic Fighting Irish games may be another matter entirely.)


“Not an Academic Exercise”

All this experience has lent Hubbard a unique and extremely useful perspective in the classroom. Stressing that his being a practitioner means that he can show students what the world outside the academy looks like, he focuses on using illustrations from his varied and deep professional life.

And Hubbard doesn’t just tell his students about the real world -- he helps them live it.

Utilizing the Irish Innovation Fund (IIF) -- a $3.5 million dollar fund Notre Dame allows student-led ventures to compete for -- as a tool, Hubbard gives his students the opportunity to be the VC.

Along with ESTEEM Dean David Murphy, Hubbard selects 24 Irish Innovation Fund submissions that focus on Science, Technology, Math or Engineering, on which he then unleashes his students. The students perform a venture capital-style analysis of the submission’s business plan, using a “unique critical format” to analyze the validity of the prospect’s ideas and assumptions. Then comes the hard part.

“The students build a financial model for the IIF project,” then modify the results based on assumptions and drivers, Hubbard says. “It’s really a unique thing.”

This process, Hubbard insists, is a fantastic opportunity to understand how to analyze a business -- your own or someone else’s -- and is a game-changing experience for many students. “I consistently hear from students down the line who have found success using this process,” says Hubbard. “This is not an academic exercise. This is commercial-grade.”