One Georgetown student’s efforts to save lives through vital monitoring and emergency alert wearable devices received a significant boost Nov. 28, thanks to Ted Leonsis (C’77, P’14, P’15), Zach Leonsis (MBA’15), and a team of expert entrepreneurs at Georgetown Entrepreneurship’s second annual “Bark Tank” pitch competition at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Shavini Fernando (G’18), who suffers from life-threatening heart and lung damage, received $30,000 of the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize. Fernando developed O2Wear, a wearable device that alerts people when their vital signs go out of normal range and call 911 for help.
“There’s currently no device that helps people with my condition get an alert as their vitals start going out of normal range or to get help,” says Fernando, who suffers from Eisenmenger’s Syndrome. “That’s why I am developing this wearable device. We do not always feel the oxygen dropping or the heart rate changes until they get to life-threatening numbers.”
Her device, O2Wear, is primarily for people with pulmonary hypertension but could be used by anyone who wants to be aware of their vital signs and for emergencies, especially for elderly people and people with cardiac issues.
“This is not just my win,” Fernando says of last night’s competition. “It's a win for each and every person with pulmonary hypertension around the world.”
Fernando, who is a student in the Communications, Culture, and Technology program, also received an additional $5,000 for the People’s Choice Award, which was decided through live audience polling.
“It is really great to see these entrepreneurs understand how they have a higher calling of developing mission-based companies that have a business model around service,” said Ted Leonsis. “We want to invest in companies that are not only growth companies but also have a heart. Companies that add value to society at large. The program that Georgetown Entrepreneurship is building at the McDonough School of Business is very emblematic of what we want to see the university stand for. We want students to go out and change the world using the power of entrepreneurship.”
Nearly a dozen student and alumni entrepreneurs shared their ventures with the community at the pitch competition event, where $100,000 in funding was on the line.
Additional prize recipients include:
Bluefoot, founded by Ramya Possett (MBA'18) and Rachel Lee, won $20,000. BlueFoot is an enterprise SaaS company that marries Wall Street data with technology, product, and patent data to help companies make better strategic decisions.
Elenas, founded by Zach Oschin (SFS'20), won $15,000. Elenas is a digital direct sales platform where Latin American women earn income selling beauty products in a modern and risk-free way.
M'Panadas, founded by Margarita Womack (EMBA'19), won $10,000. M'Panadas fuses street foods, nutritional science, and modern American cuisine to make tasty, wholesome, portable foods to fuel people on the go.
CAVALL, founded by Juliette Silvain (B'20) and Yechan Choi (C'20); Farley Craig Capital LLC, founded by Dennis F. Craig II (L'19), Royal Farley (SCS'15), and Justin Mott; Happy Price, founded by Sahaj Sharda (SFS'20); and Truckr, founded by Hannah Williams (B'19), each received $5,000.
The Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize is supported by longtime entrepreneur Ted Leonsis; his wife, Lynn; his son, Zach; and his daughter, Elle (C’14).
Aligning with the Jesuit values of Georgetown University, the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize honors and supports Georgetown students who have launched or are preparing to launch new business ventures that will address problems in the world around them. Ultimately, the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize builds awareness around the innovation and accomplishments of Georgetown’s entrepreneurs and strengthens the university’s reputation as a place where ambitious students can turn their passions into entrepreneurial ventures.
A panel of judges conducted a rigorous scoring and review process that determined the sizes of each prize. In addition to Ted and Zach Leonsis, the experts included Kristen Gunther, vice president, Revolution Growth; Arun Gupta, venture partner, Columbia Capital; Richard Kay, chairman, Sentrillion Corporation; Michelle Freeman (P’13), owner and CEO, Carl M. Freeman Companies; and Steve Murray, managing partner, Revolution Growth.