Tales from the tank

Spring 2016

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Rent Like A Champion is just one venture with Mendoza ties that has tangled with the Sharks. Here’s a sampling:


Konrad Billetz (MBA ’13) pitched his startup, Frameri, during an episode that airedin May 2015. Although he didn’t walk away with a
deal for his eyewear design, which features interchangeable frames and lenses, he did gain a lot of positive exposure. Frameri was a runner-up during the McCloskey Business Competition in 2013.

Andy Steves (ND ’10) took his idea for a travel service for students, Weekend Student Adventures Abroad, into the Tank during a segment that has not yet aired. Steves, who won the 2010 McCloskey competition with a team of business students, received critical help in developing his venture from John Anthony of Anthony Travel — and probably a little fatherly advice from his dad, Rick Steves, well-known author, TV personality and travel guide.

Bryan Scott, a former NFL player turned entrepreneur, appeared on Shark Tank in April 2015. His company, Noene Insoles, makes ultra-thin, high-tech insoles for both sneakers and shoes that absorb and disperse high-frequency shock. Scott — who developed his pitch during a program for NFL players developed jointly by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship and the Stayer Center for Executive Education — sold 30 percent of the company to Mark Cuban and Daymond John for $200,000.

In November 2014, Shark Tank came to Notre Dame when Kevin O’Leary paid a visit to Mendoza. More than a thousand people turned out to hear Mr. Wonderful talk about the show and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

O’Leary also judged three student pitches during the event, encouraging one — social investment app Sessa Investments, who memorably made the point about the power of compounding by throwing a bag of 10,000 pennies at O’Leary’s feet — to connect with him later. Sessa was founded by Joe Mueller (FIN ’15), Federico Segura (FIN ’15), Stephanie Tilden (ND ’15) and Amie Wei (MGT ’15). The team ultimately did not strike a deal with O’Leary, but currently are developing the app at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, California.