Georgetown Entrepreneurship Jumpstarts Alumni Ventures Through The Georgetown Startup Accelerator
Since 2018, the Georgetown Venture Lab has helped over 60 Hoyas launch and grow their businesses in the heart of Washington, D.C. Now, Georgetown entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to apply for the Venture Lab’s new Georgetown Startup Accelerator (GSA) – a recently launched program to help alumni take their startups to the next level.
Alumni members of the Venture Lab gain access to a subsidized workspace in a brand new WeWork facility, a community of fellow founders, coaching and private investor events, and other resources to support their business pursuits. The lab itself – made possible through a generous gift from the Leonsis Family, including Ted (C’77), Zach (MBA’15), and Elle (C’14) – has supported several Georgetown-founded companies, including Phil’s Finest (formerly MisFit Foods), Palmetto Solar, and TwoBirds.
The GSA was developed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to engage alumni in virtual programming to support their business ventures. GSA co-directors, Howard Eisenberg, Georgetown entrepreneur in residence, and Callie Jacobs, program manager of the Venture Lab, developed the nine-week accelerator program to connect alumni founders of early stage startups with industry experts, top-tier mentors, a community of peer entrepreneurs, partner services, and other valuable startup resources.
“The GSA was a game-changer for us in the very best way,” said Marissa and Michael Nelson (MA’05 and C’04), founders of Intimacy Moons and members of GSA’s Fall 2021 cohort. “It is so well-designed and organized that all we had to do was concentrate on accelerating our business. The mentorship was priceless, the workshops were stimulating and insightful, and the community among our cohort peers was inspiring. It exceeded every expectation we could have hoped for.”
At the GSA, each venture is paired with an experienced mentor to help guide and propel their business forward. Some of the esteemed GSA mentors have included Neel Premkumar (B’02, founder & CEO of Dyla Brands), Catherine Colwell (MBA’18, chief experience officer at Interior Define), and Ryan Croft (co-founder of TransitScreen and investor), to name a few.
Through weekly workshops starring guest speakers like Doug Bouton (C’07) of HaloTop, Nitya Rajendran (C’14) of Tribeca Venture Partners, and Jordan DeCicco of SuperCoffee, founders intermingle and learn from some of the most successful entrepreneurs and experienced venture capitalists. The program culminates with a Demo Day where founders showcase their companies to the Georgetown community and other startup supporters.
“I had no idea of the depth of the network of Georgetown alums, and the GSA pulled out all the stops to make all the right intros happen for us. My business will absolutely grow directly as a result of the connections the GSA made for me,” said Tory Pratt (SFS’11), founder of Pratt Standard, GSA Spring 2021 cohort.
In just one year, the GSA has supported 25 companies and 39 founders, with over half of participating companies being minority-led or female-founded. The GSA program’s tangible benefits can be seen in past participants’ success. Some highlights include:
- Several companies were able to raise funds in private rounds after completing GSA ranging from $400k to just below $1M.
- IntimacyMoons received a grant from the Comcast RISE Program, which includes a year of business coaching and tools, and was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania’s Venture Initiation Program in the Wharton School of Business.
- Joint Homes was accepted to the highly competitive Techstars Anywhere Americas Accelerator.
- Globally Unified Air Quality founders were selected as 2021 Halcyon Fellows.
- Julian Davis, CEO of Hydrova, was recognized as one of Washington Business Journal and DC Inno 25 Under 25 class of 2021.
“We are committed to providing our ‘Hoyapreneurs’ with the education, resources, and mentorship necessary to pursue their passions and create ventures of impact – both during their time at Georgetown and beyond,” said Jeff Reid, director of Georgetown Entrepreneurship. “Programs like the GSA help our alumni grow and scale their businesses alongside a network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and community members who are all invested in their success. Our alumni entrepreneurs are exceptional, and we are proud to provide a variety of programs and resources to help them realize their potential.”
The GSA program was enhanced by the inclusion of a wide community of corporate partners such as Amazon Web Services, Fiverr, and Hubspot, and local partners including Dualboot Partners, Eleven Eleven, Fifth Tribe, Foley, Marcum, Rothwell Figg, ThinkNimble, and VentureCount. Their support and expertise enable founders to unlock growth and success via tools and services they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
“The GSA has been transformational for my startup. The network and training received through the program have really helped me get my business to the next stage of growth. I highly recommend it for founders that need support and a community to help them grow,” said Alexa Fernandez, CEO of Chili Maven, GSA Fall 2021 cohort.
Looking ahead, Georgetown Entrepreneurship continues to be committed to supporting alumni entrepreneurs through partnerships with the Georgetown Angel Investment Network, Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance, and other community networks. The Venture Lab will run its third cohort of the Georgetown Startup Accelerator in September 2022 (sign up for early access and more information).