Georgetown Entrepreneurs Win $125,000 in Prizes During Annual ‘Bark Tank’ Pitch Competition
Eight student teams on a mission to make a positive impact on society presented their startup ideas to a panel of expert judges during the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize “Bark Tank” Pitch Competition on Thursday, October 26, 2023, at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, taking home $125,000 in prizes.
During the event, Georgetown Entrepreneurship also announced a transformational $5 million gift from Ted Leonsis (C’77, P’14,’15), founder, chairman, principal partner, and chief executive officer of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and his family, to provide permanent support for the Bark Tank Pitch Competition, so that it exists at Georgetown in perpetuity. The gift also will establish the Leonsis Family Venture Development Program to support student startups, incubator programs, and other entrepreneurial programming across the university. Since Bark Tank’s inception, $975,000 in prizes have been awarded to 60 different ventures, and those ventures have gone on to raise more than $295 million and create over 1,000 jobs.
“Ted’s generosity has not only transformed lives but has also inspired us all to be better, to do more, and to give back to the world in whatever ways we can,” said Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair of the McDonough School of Business, during the official announcement. “We are so grateful for his continued leadership, for his dedication to our school, and most importantly, for his support of our students. His commitment will leave an indelible mark on our ‘Hoyapreneurs’ for years to come.”
The 2023 Bark Tank finalists and attendees had the opportunity to hear directly from Leonsis, as well as from Panos Kostopoulos (G’22), co-founder of Proxy Foods and last year’s recipient of the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize.
“Bark Tank is not just a competition; it’s the profound beginning of a remarkable journey that can transform lives,” Panos said.
Reservoir won the grand prize of $30,000. Reservoir is a credentialing and identity management SaaS platform offering businesses an efficient network to manage and validate digital credentials. It is led by James Azar (MBA’23).
Orbit won the second place $25,000 prize, as well as the $5,000 People’s Choice Award. Led by Steven Pang (C’26), Orbit makes immersive neurotech for gaming, movies, and virtual reality.
Georgetown REUSE tied for third place, receiving $15,000. Georgetown REUSE works to increase accessibility, reduce waste, and promote a circular system of consumption by way of providing affordable and pre-loved clothing, school supplies, and dorm materials to students and community members. It is led by Rita Alan (SFS’24), Molly Austin (SFS’25).
Shanda also won the third place $15,000 prize. Shanda is a simplified audio editing solution for people with interview-based podcasts. It is led by Dumi Mabhena (MBA’24).
Selleb earned third place, $15,000 honors. Selleb is a receipts-powered social platform where users can see, share, search, save, and shop products recommended by friends. It is led by Claire Lee (B’24).
SoleStep won the fourth place $10,000 prize. SoleStep is a health technology company dedicated to improving musculoskeletal health, fitness, and overall societal well-being through smart sole technology. It is led by James Hart (EMBA’24), Shawn Karawa (EMBA’24), Mika Rhabb (EMBA’24), and Omar Wilson (EMBA’24).
Additionally, Open Grid Technologies, led by Nanbo Liu (MBA’24), Theo Hebblethwaite (MBA’24), and Mike Wen (MBA’23), won $5,000 at the competition. OpenGrid provides tailor-made electricity packages to power the daily needs of electric vehicle commuters living in urban settings through subscription-based plans and innovative fast-charging technology.
Lastly, Enna Health, led by Nirmal Maitra (B’17, M’25), also received $5,000. Enna Health enables cancer patients to effortlessly log cancer and treatment-related symptoms in less than 60 seconds an entry, shares summarized data with care teams for optimal symptom management, and provides essential resources like nonprofit support and reading materials for added assistance.
The Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize is supported by longtime entrepreneur Ted Leonsis; his wife, Lynn; his son, Zach (MBA’15); 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.