My Week in ESTEEM: February 17-21

Author: Nick Wilt

Nick WiltNick Wilt

My name is Nick Wilt and you caught me in one of the busiest weeks of the semester, so read at your own risk. 

I am originally from New York and studied Mechanical Engineering here at Notre Dame for my undergraduate degree before being lucky enough to spend a year at ESTEEM. Some of my interests, as you will see, including running and brewing some top-notch coffee - two things that go hand in hand. 

Despite my incredibly comfortable bed, I woke up at 7:00 am to head over to the student gym, where Mitchell and I taught a spin class to a group of ESTEEM students. We are training for the Legacy bike Race which will include riding over 100 miles/day for 4 days, which is no easy feat. After, I ran home and made a quick breakfast then took off to Innovation Park where I met with David Murphy to discuss career opportunities after graduation and the development of my startup, Cold Brew Fuel. Following that meeting, I worked on my Capstone project until Launch Strategy Class with a group of classmates. For my Capstone, I am working with SRAM, which is a very innovative cycling component manufacturer in Chicago. Working up an appetite, the squad made the short walk to O’Rourke’s to feast on their 50 cent wing special. Next, my roommate Travis and I began our problem set for Orthopedic Biomechanics. After 2-3 hours of work and no progress made, we threw in the towel and shifted our focus to a design problem project for that same class, due later in the week. The project was to program a dynamics model of a human lifting a weight. We got equally far in the project as we did in the problem set, and at 3:00 am, I throw in that towel as well. 

Another early wake up to talk to an alumnus who is currently working on the East Coast. The ESTEEM alumni network is one of our most powerful tools, and I can have honest conversations about career and personal development. After going to class, I jumped on a phone call with another Alumni and sent out a handful of emails before heading Funding New Ventures, and Data Analytics classes. Grabbing a Cold Brew Fuel, I jumped on the spin bike after class to let out some stress for a mean workout run by my classmates. Off the bike, Travis and I took a second swing at the problem set and design problem project. Have I mentioned that our Launch Strategy deliverable is also due this week? Bouncing between those three assignments, I finished the day off at 3:30 am (still no working program for my biomechanics). It’s more fun to lift weights than to model them. 

I spent a lot of this day venture coaching students who are looking to start a company while in school. I have 10 teams who are all very creative and I work hard to offer as precise guidance as I can. One of the ventures I am coaching just received $1500 from the IDEA Center in funding for market testing for their prototype so we spend time brainstorming the best steps moving forward. At ESTEEM, you have to opportunity to work for the IDEA Center in many 
different roles and I believe Venture Coaching was a great fit for me because it focuses on problem and solution validation while venture ideas are still very young. This allows for fun and dynamic brainstorming sessions on how to tackle complex problems. I coach these ventures until we have our first Sales and Sales Management taught by Chris Stevens, a former Notre Dame basketball player and co-founder of Keurig. Awesome class. After the lectures, Travis and I take on that problem set and design problem project again. Early night tonight, in bed by 2:00 am, dreaming about biomechanics and launch strategy. 

I wake up early and begin work for my startup. Early in the morning, I formulate, bottle and label my cold brew. We have a collaboration with Pure Barre this weekend so I have to make sure everything is in check. I also spend an hour or so distributing products to our customers. Bottling and distributing coffee is not the most glamorous part of entrepreneurship but it is what is needed to be done. 

Later in the day, we got the Biomechanics program figure out! Our final model is kind of wrong, but the general shape is looking good so I take it and move on. One thing I learned in ESTEEM is prioritizing which parts of the problem to optimize. I spend a good part of the day working on the report and my day is made when I hear that one of my ESTEEM classmates was accepted into a Ph.D. degree at Notre Dame!

All my work is submitted and I’m ready for the weekend. To celebrate the packed week, I wake up while it is still dark out and go for a long run. I run around the two lakes on campus until the sun peaks above Notre Dame’s Golden Dome and the fog on the lakes make it hard to put these moments into words. While I am exhausted from the week and this long run, I am fueled forward by a profound feeling of gratitude for this year, the people I have met, and the many open doors in front of me. 
After a massive breakfast, I watch Friday pitches where student ventures pitch their ideas for funding in a Shark Tank-like environment. Those are always fun and flowing with great ideas. After that, it’s on to the weekend to hang out and maybe catch up on some sleep. What a week.