You’ve probably seen “Shark Tank” on TV. Georgetown University has its own version where at least $100,000 is up for grabs for student and alumni entrepreneurs.
It was the summer of 1976, the bicentennial year, when Ted Leonsis, then a student at Georgetown University, was full of entrepreneurial spirit.
He sold snow cones with the slogan “be patriotic, eat a snow cone”. The snow cones sold by Leonsis were red, white and blue. Now serious green, at least $100,000, is up for grabs for Georgetown students and former entrepreneurs at the Leonsis “Bark Tank” Family Entrepreneurship Prize.
Yes, think of the TV show “Shark Tank”, except it’s aptly called “Bark Tank”, Georgetown’s mascot is a bulldog. Although the competing entrepreneurs won’t bark, they will have three minutes to convince a panel of judges that their idea is the best at the event at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on Wednesday.
“There’s something magical about starting your own business,” said Leonsis, a member of the class of 1977 at Georgetown. “I wanted to bring that philosophy and create an award in Georgetown. We select winners and give out gifts to help kids get started. It is not an investment. That is, here is the money and now go and make your idea something real.
There are eight finalists for this year’s “Bark Tank,” and there will be more than one champion. Usually three or four winners are selected and Leonsis appreciates his alma mater for creating this platform where instead of working for someone, starting his own business is an attractive option.
“Small businesses are the engine of our economy,” said Leonsis. “Right now is the best time to start a business, especially when the economy is bad. There is a real need out there and if you can solve this problem and get funding you will be a real growth business when the economy turns.
The eight finalists in this year’s competition are:
Carlos Belo and Jinsung Bach (B’22)
Budeli is a real estate tech that partners with apartment complexes to provide $2 food delivery to apartment residents with no tips or hidden fees.
Victor Reve (C’23)
Dreame offers women and queer people life coaching, tools and advice via social media to help them attract the romantic partner and life of their dreams.
Victoria Gomes-Boronat (G’22)
LUCIO is a social gaming platform that uses shared interests, shared experiences, and geolocation matching algorithms to connect users of similar interests, age, and proximity, providing research-backed ways to create connections through play and other shared experiences.
Kilian Liptrot (L’23)
Tessen designs innovative cameras that inspire photographers to travel often and carry light.
Homemade in DC
Mackenzie Loy (B’22)
Homemade in DC is an online marketplace connecting local food entrepreneurs to businesses, offering corporate catering and custom gift boxes sourced locally from women, people of color and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.
Besart Copa (SFS’22)
Chestr is a one-click universal wishlist that lets you save items, add them to lists, share them with friends, and track discounts.
Panos Kostopoulos (G’22)
Proxy Foods offers the world’s first B2B flavor optimization AI platform specifically created for alternative proteins. By consolidating and transforming billions of data points into answers, food companies can develop better products, faster, through computational modeling and guided innovation.
Neal Singal (B’23)
Global Pal empowers small and medium-sized restaurants with an easy-to-use, cost-effective mobile payment platform.
This year’s Bark Tank judges include Ted Leonsis (Founder, Chairman and CEO-MSE), Zach Leonsis (President, Media & New Enterprises-MSE), Peter Biche (CFO-MSE), Grant Hastings (SVP, New Enterprises- MSE), Andrew Wallace (Investment Officer-Revolution Acceleration) and Fazeela Rashid (Partner-Revolution Growth)
Editor’s Note: OMCP’s Dave Johnson works for Monumental Sports and Entertainment as the radio voice of the Washington Wizards.
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