Georgetown Celebrates Student Entrepreneurs

Posted in News Story

John Fernandez, Doug Grant, and Craig Poland have had meetings at hospitals across the country to make it easier for those facing blood cancer to find a match for a potentially lifesaving stem cell donation. With that goal in mind, the 2016 MBA candidates at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business started Hemeos, an independent blood stem cell registry focused on finding donors for African American, Asian, and Hispanic blood cancer patients.

The Hemeos team won first place – and $10,000 — at Entrepalooza on April 26, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s annual pitch competition and end-of-the-year celebration of entrepreneurship. Hemeos also received the People’s Choice Award, based on audience votes.

Megan Mizar (MBA ’16), won second place and the Social Impact Award for Freeda, which aims to provide young girls with dolls that will foster diversity and encourage career exploration. The third place winner, PopHotel, would transform vacant, Class B office space into short-term lodging. PopHotel is led by Alexandra Caine, Michael Kelly, Clyde McGraw, and Keyvan Pajouhan, all 2016 MBA candidates.

The eight student teams reached the final round from a pool of more than 80 teams in earlier preliminary rounds throughout the academic year. In all, students won more than $20,000 in prize money.

After the pitch competition portion of the evening, Peter Mellen (C ’89, MBA ’98) recognized David Fogel (B ’93, L ’97, MBA ’97) president and chief operating officer of IndexIQ; Thomas Raffa (B ’76), president and founder of Raffa, P.C.; and Amy Barnes Wright (MBA ’92), co-founder and CEO of Macro Solutions, as the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Alumni Entrepreneur awards.

The recipients personified the three virtues of entrepreneurialism – persistence, patience, and courage – Mellen said.

Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, also presented several awards to students and faculty, including:

  • Entrepreneurship Faculty Excellence – Sezer Ulku, associate professor of operations and information management at the McDonough School of Business;
  • Outstanding Volunteers – Entrepreneurs-in-Residence John Jabara, founder of Sevenia Labs and Mike Malloy (SCS ’12), founder of WaveBorn;
  • Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Undergraduate — Jake DeCicco (B ’16), co-founder of Sunniva Caffe;
  • Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Graduate – Daniel Kuenzi (MBA ’17), co-founder of Local Roots Farms; and
  • Outstanding Entrepreneurial Leadership – Meredith Cheney (C ’16), Jordan Edelman (MBA ‘16); Beatrice Fabris (C ’16), and Barry Goldsmith (B ’17).

The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, under the banner of StartupHoyas, enables students to see the world as entrepreneurs do, while providing the knowledge and skills they need to act on their insights and provide value to society. The initiative fosters an entrepreneurial mindset in the classroom and out of the classroom, including by bringing world-class speakers to campus, convening events and roundtables, and providing unique opportunities for students.

“It’s our mission at the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative to make entrepreneurship contagious,” Reid said.