The McCloskey New Venture Competition: What’s in it for ESTEEM students?

Author: Emily Tyson

McCloskey 2021McCloskey 2021

The McCloskey New Venture Competition, now entering its 21st year, is one among many opportunities available to ESTEEM students. It may not be obvious to a busy ESTEEM graduate student, already juggling classes along with a capstone project, and possibly a side project too, why participating in McCloskey is a good idea.

I recently sat down with Patti Reinhardt, the IDEA Center’s Director of Student Engagement, Competitions and Events, to talk about why ESTEEM students should “do McCloskey.” Here’s what she said:

It’s risk-free.

Entering the competition as a team leader, or participating as a team member, says Reinhardt, “is one of the only risk-free opportunities” an ESTEEM student will have while here at Notre Dame. Students can enter the competition with their own idea, or students without an idea can join an existing team. Either way, it’s risk-free. There is no cost to participate.

(Read the rules here.)

It’s an educational experience.

Teams receive feedback from judges at the end of each Round, so as long as they are still in the competition, they will continue to learn and benefit from the judges’ experience and expertise. McCloskey judges, assures Reinhardt, “are required to give feedback. Over the course of the competition, student founders and their team members will have up to 12 industry experts review their venture, giving ESTEEM students who participate a rich educational experience. 

Additionally, each team that advances to Round 2 may request and be assigned a mentor. These individuals have significant entrepreneurial experience, and can provide valuable advice to the founders and team members. 

(Read more about the process here.)

There are prizes involved.

McCloskey participants compete for a total of over $400,000 in cash and in-kind prizes and awards. More than a dozen available cash prizes range from $1,500 on up to the $50,000 Grand Prize. “These funds can be applied directly to the winning venture,” Reinhardt explains. Participants could also win in-kind awards of a variety of business services, which can also be extremely helpful to a startup!

(Read the full list of prizes here.)

McCloskey is for everyone, whether you have an idea or not.

It is important to highlight that you do not need to have a business idea already to participate in the McCloskey Competition. Team leaders are always looking to fill out their team, and ESTEEM students are often just what founders are looking for. The Student Connections platform is designed to help participants find each other and together build robust and collaborative teams. 

(Read more about Student Connections here.)

And finally, you don’t need to be “ready” in order to enter.

“The thing I hear the most from students (ESTEEM or otherwise) when they come talk to me about entering McCloskey, is that they ‘don’t feel ready,’” says Reinhardt. She would like to assure students that this feeling of being “not ready” is a primary reason to enter! Participating in the competition itself will provide you with what you need to move your venture forward. So, go ahead and do what hundreds of your fellow ESTEEMers have done, and “do McCloskey!”

(Read more about how to submit for Round 1, due October 18, here.)