Georgetown University Announces Inaugural Recipients of Leonsis Entrepreneurship Prize
Nearly a dozen Georgetown University students and recent alumni are a step closer to realizing their entrepreneurial ambitions, thanks to support from the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize. The recipients of the inaugural prize include the alumni behind a cold-pressed juice company and an independent blood stem cell registry.
Misfit Juicery, founded by Ann Yang (SFS’16) and Phil Wong (SFS’15), received $30,000. Misfit Juicery combats food waste by turning cosmetically defective fruits and vegetables, as well as surplus scrap products, into cold-pressed juice. More than 50 stores in the District of Columbia and New York City currently carry Misfit products, and Yang and Wong plan to use the prize money to redesign their packaging.
“The resources at Georgetown empowered me to pursue Misfit full time after college, and for that I am incredibly grateful,” Yang said. “Georgetown’s focus on social justice completely changed my life. I am honored to be an inaugural recipient of the Leonsis Prize and I am grateful to the Georgetown entrepreneurship community. We’re excited to keep slinging juice and fighting food waste.”
Hemeos, led by Doug Grant, John Fernandez, Onik Quddus, and Craig Poland—all 2016 graduates of the Georgetown McDonough MBA program—received $20,000. Hemeos is an independent blood stem cell registry that uses a compensation model and focuses on recruiting minority donors. The company’s leaders are meeting with hospitals across the country while developing the software that will operate the registry; they have recruited about 2,000 donors to date. The prize will allow Hemeos to build its database, getting one step closer to going to market.
“Our team is incredibly grateful,” Grant said. “Hemeos would not be possible without the support of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and StartupHoyas. We also want to thank the Leonsis family for such an amazing effort to support entrepreneurs at Georgetown. This funding is a springboard to complete Hemeos’ mission to be a transformational healthcare company that saves peoples’ lives.”
Fat Cat, founded by James McNamara (L’16); MicroCoaching, founded by Emre Ruhi (MBA’17), Dwight Stalls (MBA’17), and Dan Tasch (MBA’17); and Sunniva Caffe, founded by Jake DeCicco (B’16), each received a $1,000 prize.
The Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize—supported by Ted Leonsis (C’77), a longtime entrepreneur, investor, and founder and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment; his wife, Lynn; his son, Zach (MBA’15); and his daughter, Elle (C’14)—provides financial support to Georgetown students and recent alumni who have launched or are preparing to launch new business ventures that address problems in the world. The winners will share their ventures with the community at Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day on Oct. 28.
“This prize is a way to create some energy around celebrating entrepreneurs on campus,” said Ted Leonsis, who also serves as the chair of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s newly established advisory board.
“The Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize provides a significant enhancement to our already robust programs for student entrepreneurs and demonstrates once again why Georgetown University is an amazing place for entrepreneurship,” said Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and professor of the practice at the McDonough School of Business. “All of these startups are using entrepreneurial thinking to solve important problems, and the Leonsis Prize will give them a boost in that critical early stage. We thank the Leonsis family for making this possible, and we look forward to another awards cycle later in the year when we can reward even more great Georgetown student entrepreneurs.”
Current Georgetown undergraduate and graduate students, as well as Georgetown alumni within six months of graduation, are eligible to win the prize and may be nominated as individuals or as teams. Georgetown’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence will provide valuable mentorship to the Leonsis prize finalists as they develop and pursue their ventures.
Recipients of the prize are selected through a rigorous nomination, application, and review process in both the fall and the spring semesters. The spring award recipients will be announced in March or April. Each year, a pool of up to $100,000 in awards will be distributed to prize recipients, funded by the $1 million gift by the Leonsis family. To learn more about the prize, visit eship.georgetown.edu/bark-tank/.
About the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, led by founding director Jeff Reid, inspires Georgetown University students to be entrepreneurial, teaches them the entrepreneurial lessons learned by others before them, connects them to useful resources, and helps them pursue their own unique entrepreneurial interests. The initiative manages an array of courses and extracurricular programs to serve the Georgetown University entrepreneurial community, both within and outside of the McDonough School of Business, and fosters stronger connections to the vibrant Washington, D.C., entrepreneurial community and the Georgetown Alumni Association. Signature programs include the StartupHoyas Challenge Business Pitch Competition, the StartupHoyas Incubator, the McDonough School of Business Entrepreneurial Fellowship, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Faculty Exchange, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and events such as Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day, the Venture Capital Investment Competition and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Learn more at eship.georgetown.edu.