This past summer, eighteen Notre Dame students participated in the IDEA Center’s 10-week summer accelerator program, Race to Revenue.
We sat down recently with John Henry, Director of Student Startups, to get an update on the student entrepreneurs.
Henry is most pleased with how students are still working on their companies. “More than half of the students who participated are still working on their ventures,” he says. Even students who didn’t consider themselves to be entrepreneurs before entering the program are still putting effort into their businesses. “Their progress is extending beyond the summer; they just keep working. The program is creating real ventures that continue on beyond the 10 weeks.”
Additionally, Henry explains that several student founders have gone on to success in securing paying customers, including Edozie Ezeanolue ND ‘22, winner of the first place cash award at the program’s Demo Day. His company, NXSTEP, is a web-based platform that matches high school students with current college students, “making it more likely that students will end up at the right college for them,” says Henry.
Olivia Anderson ND ‘21 was also awarded money at the July 31st Demo Day. The funds received were subsequently used by the Jüke team on product creation. The company’s mission is “to enrich the live music experience for the artist, the audience, and the venue by providing an intuitive and accessible channel of communication that allows for tailored performances.” The commercial product is built, says company founder Griffin Eaton, and they will very soon be “doing [their] very first gig with a band!”
Other Race to Revenue participants are continuing to work on their businesses by seeking capital investment. For example, David Thompson ND’ 22 of Doggi sought funding through the Northern Indiana Elevate Ventures Nexus Pitch Competition held in late October. The competition offers student entrepreneurs “the opportunity to secure foundational capital needed to launch their businesses.”
Several other participants and their companies have succeeded in raising significant investment in their early stage companies. Although details are not quite ready for public release, Henry can share that, “a few months after our second Race to Revenue program, our student entrepreneurs have raised a total of over $1 million towards their ventures. This is compared to the 2019 program (which was half the size of the 2020 program), after which Racers raised ~$250K.”
Says Henry, “I couldn’t be more proud of these students who are actively committing themselves to building a company.”