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Final day at Notre Dame

Well, the program wrapped up around 2 pm today and around 9 I made it back to the bluegrass where everyone is eagerly anticipating tomorrow night's national championship. For the final day of the program groups of five players presented a product or idea as an investment opportunity to all the other players and investors in the room. This exercise was designed as a way for all the players to get some first hand experience pitching a business idea. Our group pitched a foot insole designed to prevent joint injuries. Cool thing about it was that one of the players on our team really is about to begin trying to sell this product throughout the US. As for the weekend as a whole, I really enjoyed the experience. The program provided a great opportunity to meet and learn from a lot of Notre Dame alum that have had a lot of experience and success in the business world. They went out of their way to be engaging and helpful. They also seemed like a pretty tight knit group which was pretty cool. The program also provided a chance to meet some of the NFl engagement team, who I had not met before and were a pleasure. They coordinated a first rate program with Notre Dame. Lastly, I always like to meet peers from around the league, and this program provided a unique opportunity to collaborate in an academic classroom setting.

Couple of main takeaways for me.
1.) there are a ton, in fact tons, of questions that need to be examined before engaging in starting a business or investing in one.
2.) a great management team can make a marginal idea work whereas a bad team is unlikely to make a great idea work.
3.) attitudes toward risk are often different geographically.
4.) 3 ways to make a great organization: improve quality of life, right a wrong, prevent the end of something good
5.). When it comes to saving and budgeting, there isn't really a right or wrong per se, but you should consciously decide what your plan and mindset are going to be; Have a mathematical idea.

As a side note, if you haven't seen Notre Dame's 172 year old campus it is really something. I wish I would have had more time to walk around, but what I did see left an impression. However, I wouldn't do the campus justice if I attempted to describe it, so I won't.

Glad I got to be a part of the program but now its back to punting footballs and watching Kentucky play for the national title!

Day 3 Notre Dame

The sun finally came out today in South bend on another fully packed day in the business program. One of the most interesting and provocative comments today was that "donor driven business models like that of NPR are bad models." I'm a big NPR fan for the record, but the argument made sense. One of the most interesting facts from the day was that the stock market goes up 75% of the time (but when it goes down it tends to go down sharply). Another interesting fact I have learned this weekend is that no sitting pope has ever visited Notre Dame's campus. We make a group presentation tomorrow but there is no chance I'm working on that tonight with Kentucky playing Wisconsin in the final four. In fact they are playing right now, so that's all for this post.

Day 2 at Notre Dame

Today was a haul. Woke up at 6 am for a run, got dressed for the start of the itinerary, which was a 7 am breakfast, and just walked in my room shortly after 9 pm. The 14 hours in between included mostly team project meetings (I'm on a team attempting to pitch a new shock absorbing shoe insole) and lectures. I learned that there are 5 absolute deal breakers when it comes to starting a business. If you don't get these 5 things right, the business deal won't work. The 5 are 1. Market impact (does the product/service meet a real customer need) 2. Scope and scalability (you need to be able to grow the product) 3. Revenue model (who pays? When? Margins? Value drivers) 4. Management team (have to have the right people to pull it off) and 5. Sustainability (got to show you can beat the competition). I've left out many of the details but that was the basic gist of the five deal killers. We also heard from the former CIO of Vanguard which I found exciting because I am a big fan of vanguard. I remember first purchasing some shares in one of their mutual funds when I was a junior in college with some scholarship money that I had managed to save throughout my freshman and sophomore years at UK. I didn't stay in that particular investment for long because i wound up needing to take the money out in order to buy an engagement ring! But nonetheless I have been a repeat client and remain a big fan of their products and philosophy. Now it's time to hit the hay and dream of Wildcats thrashing some Badgers.