Notre Dame College Students Win Startup Funds for High Tech Business Selection

The Student Venture Fund at Notre Dame College, also known as NDC Shark Tank, a chapter of the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF), has won $25,000 in startup funds for its selection: GiveNext LCC.
The winning presentation team from Notre Dame is comprised of seniors Vanessa Matthes and Jamie Robinson, and supported in-person by fellow "senior sharks" Tawnia Almaraz, Suzanne Morris, Sarah Weyer and Ian Dawson.
The students won support for GiveNext from the College’s Student Venture Fund and entrepreneurship club, called NDCe, and endorsed GiveNext before NEOSVF as part of the accelerator’s spring funding cycle.
The founder of GiveNext, Daniel Mansoor, aims to revolutionize the way charities reach out to their contributors and donors.
"GiveNext is like eTrade for giving," Mansoor said.
The new online tool at GiveNext.com allows donors to track their gifts to multiple charities year-round and set up recurring contributions.
Mansoor expects nonprofits as well as donors to embrace the idea because GiveNext helps the organizations maximize their donor retention rates and lower fundraising costs by reducing spending on postage and repeat mailings.
According to Mansoor, the main reason donors stop giving to charity is over-solicitation, to the tune of 3.8 billion pieces of mail every year.
"One of the things I told the team from Notre Dame College is that 21st-century fundraising is based on 19th-century technology called the postage stamp, and given their age, they immediately understood the potential of GiveNext," Mansoor said. 
Jamie Robinson, chief operating officer of the Student Venture Fund at Notre Dame, said GiveNext also has the potential to develop a whole new cohort of donors.
"I hope Notre Dame College adopts GiveNext as I believe it is the only way our generation and my classmates will consistently support our alma mater financially. We expect the organizations we care about to make it easy for us to make a difference," Robinson said
The NEOSVF is an independent, 501c(3) organization that is a collaboration of colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio. According to Bill Leamon, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Notre Dame and board member of NEOSVF, the student-led groups perform evaluations of startups and make real dollar investments to the most promising technology-based companies.
“The goal is to provide an experiential learning opportunity to Northeast Ohio college students who gain the confidence to begin their own companies, become investors or become employed by startups, while fostering economic development in the region,” Leamon said.
The NDC chapter of NEOSVF is comprised of students across various majors. After evaluating six companies, two—GiveNext and Lufthouse, a Flashstarts portfolio company—were selected for further consideration. The student investment teams went through an expansive due-diligence process before deciding GiveNext would be their final funding recommendation to the NEOSVF board of directors.
"It was a very difficult decision given how much we believe in Lufthouse and their founder, Joan Soskin," said Vanessa Matthes, chief executive officer of the Notre Dame chapter of NEOSVF. "We see great potential in Lufthouse, which uses iBeacon technology to help businesses communicate the right message in the right moment. We also value the relationship we've developed with Charlie Stack, founder of Flashstarts, and hope we can continue to work together despite our decision to go with GiveNext this time around."
The University of Akron, Kent State University and Walsh University recently recommended Event 38, a manufacturer of commercial drones, and the NEOSVF board approved an investment of $25,000. The College of Wooster and Case Western Reserve University recently joined NEOSVF and will participate with Notre Dame in the spring funding cycle.
The Student Venture Fund chapter of NDC meets at 6 p.m. every Tuesday night in room L215 with high-tech entrepreneurs scheduled to fast pitch each week through March 17. Interested students are encouraged to contact Robinson at jrobinson11@students.ndc.edu if they have questions.

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