Last month, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business held its inaugural Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize “Bark Tank” Pitch Competition, named in honor of the school’s mascot, the bulldog. Put together by a team of expert entrepreneurs at the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, the goal of the competition was to support students and alumni in their startup ventures. Overall, nearly a dozen teams and individuals competed for $100,000 in prize money.
In alignment with Georgetown’s Jesuit values, the pitch competition highlighted business ventures that focused on problems in the world around them. Ultimately, the prize money was intended to bring awareness to innovative technology and business ideas that address a social issue by doing good.
“It is wonderful to watch the community rally around ‘StartupNation,'” Ted Leonsis—the founder, majority owner, chairman, and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment—said in a press release from the university. “It has been tremendous to watch these entrepreneurs exhibit passion to tackle these issues. Entrepreneurship allows Georgetown University to stand atop of what they are already doing, which is to develop the whole person. We have the opportunity to become an institution where people not only get an education but also have a higher calling.”
The ultimate winner of the “Bark Tank” pitch competition was Hatch, a startup launching soon in Washington, D.C., that seeks to provide co-working and child care solutions for working parents. Founded by J.P. Coakley (MBA ’18) and Kelsey Lents (MBA ’18), Hatch won $30,000 at the competition, which will enable it to open its first location.
The Leonsis Prize underscores the student experience at Georgetown University in how the student, faculty, and alumni communities continuously help each other through scholarship, mentorship, and networking,” said Lents. “This support has impressed and motivated us to launch our business. We are excited to have won the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize, which will be instrumental in helping us to secure the lease and letter of credit required to open the first location of Hatch.”
Other prize recipients included ClassPulse, a professional development tool that allows professors to collect student feedback in real time. Founded by Claudia Recchi (B’17), ClassPulse won $25,000. The third-place prize went to Cusp 365, an app that helps college women live a more healthy life. Founded by Jaclyn DiGregorio (B’17), it received $15,000. Another five ventures, Campus Sherpa, Edible Finance, Foublie, Galapagos Strategy, and Qoral Health, each won $5,000 in prize money.
Overall, the winners were chosen based on scores by a panel of judges including CEOs, founders, and chairmen from leading companies in the area.