On Friday, November 6, 2020, the IDEA Center held the Student Entrepreneur Pre-Accelerator Demo Day, which was the final event of Notre Dame’s IDEA Center’s first-annual Student Entrepreneur Pre-Accelerator (read more about the actual program below). Demo Day showcased 12 of Notre Dame’s top student-led startups who have worked for the past 6 weeks to validate and prototype their product or service. The founders were particularly seeking both mentors and investors to guide and fund further development of their startups.
The event featured 5-minute virtual pitches from the following student founders:
- Emmanuel Acheampong | ROBO-BootCamp
- Sterling Bhollah | Orange Tree Alternatives
- Kevin Camson | MOOV
- Liliya Chernysheva | Brava!
- Anthony Esplin |Sleep Easy Pillow
- Thomas Issa | Rigg Solutions
- Richard McManus | Mound Power
- Jalil Moad | SpotMe
- Lukas Neckhaim | The Skinner Machine
- Kevin White | helloFROM
- Jason Won | A Better Tomorrow
- Renee Yaseen | FriendOver
One of the startups, SpotMe, which was founded by Jalil Moad ND ’22, is focused around reducing the intimidation or discomfort that new weightlifters often feel. SpotMe would be a welcoming social media platform for everyone who lifts weights, making it easy to find a lift partner, organize and share workouts, and track one’s progress. Another startup, FriendOver, founded by Renee Yaseen ND ’22, understands there is an unmet need in the realm of young kids struggling to socially engage with their friends over current videoconferencing interfaces, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. FriendOver seeks to provide a solution in this space, by serving as a new virtual social space designed just for kids, grades K-6.
Read more about all twelve startups and founders here.
About the IDEA Center's Student Entrepreneur Pre-Accelerator:
Notre Dame's Student Entrepreneur Pre-Accelerator is a 6-week program designed to accelerate the most promising student-led startups by connecting them with mentors and resources to validate their problems, determine their core customer, size their market, and start developing a prototype.
Interview with Spencer Koehl ND '23, a Senior Startup Coach at the IDEA Center, who is responsible for co-managing the IDEA Center’s Student Entrepreneurship Program and organized the Pre-Accelerator Demo Day.
Question: Can you provide more information about the Student Entrepreneurship program?
Spencer: The Student Entrepreneurship program is the main student-facing initiative of the IDEA Center. We take all Notre Dame students from across campus who want to start ventures or explore an idea and give them the coaching and resources to do so. The more positive outcomes, like follow-on investments, connections with mentors, or team building that we can help these student entrepreneurs create, the better.
Question: What exactly is the goal of the Pre-Accelerator program?
Spencer: Our Pre-Accelerator program is a new way that we’re trying to create even more positive outcomes for ND student entrepreneurs. The idea is to take a small cohort of some of Notre Dame’s most motivated founders and put them together in a 6 week course which culminates in a demo day where they present their businesses to potential mentors and investors.
Question: What is the outcome of Demo Day and steps moving forward for these startups, given the tremendous impact of mentors and angels through the process?
Spencer: These twelve startups featured above got connected with mentors and angels and are building those relationships, which is an outstanding outcome for our first demo day. We got an overwhelming response from the mentors and investors that we invited and look forward to cultivating these relationships moving forward. Without the support and presence of mentors and angels from the ND network, many of these student startups would have a lot of trouble getting their business to the next level. I really cannot emphasize enough how crucial these dedicated mentors and investors are to this program - they give their time and energy to support our students, give feedback, and possibly cultivate relationships. Even outside of the Demo Day, these students were connected with other ND founders working on their startups and 6 days of feedback and curriculum from IDEA Center startup experts.