Student-run startup wins $40,000 at McCloskey Competition

Author: Kevin Allen

Impowerusmccloskey Jerry Chavez, left, of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation presents Notre Dame 3L Veronica Canton of Impowerus with a $15,000 award for best collabration at the 2018 McCloskey New Venture Competition.

A digital media startup run by Notre Dame Law students won $40,000 in awards at the 2018 McCloskey New Venture Competition.

Impowerus – an online platform that connects juvenile immigrants with pro bono attorneys offering immigration services – took home three awards at the annual competition held during Notre Dame’s Idea Week.

  • Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact: $10,000
  • Award from Marshall County Economic Development Corporation for best collaboration: $15,000
  • Horvath Communications Best Woman-Owned Startup: $15,000

The mission behind Impowerus is to remove barriers to legal representation. The company offers a novel solution by providing a platform where attorneys and clients can communicate over the Internet through a secure video chat with the integration of a useful dashboard.

“The amazing support we’ve had from the community so far, both the Notre Dame and greater South Bend community, have allowed us to reach heights we never could have imagined,” said Impowerus founder Katelyn Ringrose, a second-year student at Notre Dame Law School.

“Being chosen as the best female-founded company, best social, and best community venture are priceless recognitions for the work we’re doing as a team to help bridge the access-to-justice gap,” Ringrose said.

Veronica Canton, a member of Notre Dame Law’s Class of 2018 and an Impowerus partner, noted, “These awards validate the hard work, we as students, are doing to bring technology to the forefront of legal services and to improve the way the legal industry engages with clients.”

Eight Notre Dame students are working on Impowerus, which has garnered support from numerous organizations that exist to encourage entrepreneurship and startup companies at Notre Dame and in the greater South Bend region.

The company won the Fellow Irish Social Hub, or FISH, award for best social venture at last year’s McCloskey Competition.

In March, Impowerus was one of eight student-led digital media startups invited to present at Student Startup Madness at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.