When Caroline Driscoll, MCAS ’27, was asked why she created Flobag, an all-in-one waterproof, floatable and trackable bag, she explained that “in the Driscoll family, we have just about every allergy you can think of.” She was no stranger to carrying around important medications or to worrying that those medications would get lost or damaged on the go. She developed Flobag specifically to ease those worries.

Caroline Driscoll

Caroline Driscoll MCAS '27

At the annual Strakosch Venture Competition, hosted by Start@Shea and the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship, eight teams of student founders presented their ideas with hopes of securing one of four cash prizes to fund their startups. Like Driscoll, many of the founders were inspired by personal experiences. 

On a warm spring evening, students, alumni, and Boston College community members filled the auditorium at 245 Beacon Street to support the student entrepreneurs. The room was buzzing with conversation, but the audience quickly quieted as the founders made their way to the front of the room while the Shark Tank series theme music played. Each team had four minutes to pitch their business plans, followed by six minutes of Q&A with a panel of judges including Tom Jennings ’95, Joe Popolo ’89, Christina Quinn ’13, and Karen Walker Beecher ’87. Along with questions about financial strategies and plans for manufacturing, the judges asked competitors about the stories behind their business ideas. 

Grant Drinkwater ’27 told the story of how he and his two co-founders (students from Dartmouth and Georgia Institute of Technology) created Spar, a pay-to-play gaming platform that allows users to participate in tournament-style competitions securing returns on simulated stock portfolios. “We came up with the idea because we bet each other who would be the best stock broker,” said Drinkwater. “[Spar] is something that we would personally use, and we wanted to create a platform to make it a reality.”

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Ananya Kommineni ’27 presents her business idea, NatScrub.

The personal connections continued as Ananya Kommineni ’27 explained that she developed NatScrub, a body scrub made with natural elements native to India, after struggling with a skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris during her childhood. Isabel Bernhard ’27 and Camille Fietcher ’27 told the judges they both developed a passion for health and wellness during the pandemic, which inspired them to create Glucose Guard, an on-the-go apple cider vinegar pouch that can decrease glucose spikes.

Following the presentations, audience members were invited to cast their vote for the crowd favorite award while judges deliberated in a separate room about the overall event winners. The founders then gathered at the front of the room and offered the audience an opportunity to ask their own questions. Expanding on the inquiries from the judges, members of the audience asked the entrepreneurs insightful questions about their respective customer markets, financial projections, and goals for the future of their businesses. Student leaders from the Shea Center also asked the participants to describe in one word how they were feeling before they pitched. “Confident,” “nervous,” “nauseous,” and “amped” were among the answers that the competitors gave. 

After ten minutes of deliberation, the judges returned to announce the winners. “Among the entrepreneurs in the room tonight, the bravery is incredible and the talent is immense,” said Jennings, a managing director at Summit Partners. “I have been an investor for 27 years and I’m blown away from the quality of every pitch we saw tonight.”

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The night's winners posed with their prizes.

Kyle Radimer ’25 and Advaith Vadlakonda ’25, the creators of an app called Musync that connects musicians and venues, took home the third place prize of $3,000. Bo Brainerd, MCAS ’25, won the $5,000 second place prize for Ophelia, a modern dating app that matches users based on their preferred date location.

Winning both first place and the crowd favorite award, Driscoll secured a total of $12,000 for Flobag. She explained that the money will go toward finalizing and launching a prototype by next fall. The bags will be made with “unsinkable” marine foam used in Boston Whaler boats and include a tracker with a battery that can last up to ten years, giving adventurous families like the Driscolls a new sense of confidence about their belongings.

“We didn’t have a bag that gave us the security to explore with all of our inhalers and epipens without fear of losing or damaging them,” Driscoll said. “So I created one.”

Mason Braasch is the Content Development Specialist for the Carroll School of Management and Assistant Editor of Carroll Capital.