Top Investors, Startups Connect on Georgetown’s Brightest Stage
Marking another milestone in the rise of Georgetown University’s entrepreneurship scene, hundreds of the best investors and startup founders from the mid-Atlantic region gathered Friday in the McDonough School of Business’ Lohrfink Auditorium.
TechBUZZ Georgetown—part of a recurring event series hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association—was one of the first times a large group of top angel investors and venture capitalists have converged upon a college campus. And it was for good reason: Georgetown’s entrepreneurship community has grown exponentially over the last few years under the leadership of director Jeff Reid. From a new two-year fellowship program to the StartupHoya Challenge business plan competition to a summer incubator, more Hoyas each year are looking to turn their ideas into businesses.
Fittingly, the spotlight was on both the heritage and the future of the regional startup community.
Noted Georgetown alum and Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis (C’77) kicked off the event with a keynote address in which he stressed the importance of startups providing a clear value to the world. “The best startups I’ve been involved in have all, in one way or another, transformed something on a human level,” Leonsis said. He emphasized that the Jesuit values of his alma mater greatly influences how he runs his companies and chooses his investments.
The crowd of investors—many of them visiting the Hariri Building for the first time—was then treated to a series of pitches from 18 of the region’s hottest seed stage companies. With industries ranging from mobile security to college admissions to facilities efficiency and beyond, the startups each had four minutes to make their best pitch as to why they deserved funding. Although the event was not a competition, the intensity was high: an expert panel was consulted as to which companies had the best presentation, business model, and team.
Georgetown students also were actively involved in this phase. Five presenting companies—Aquicore, Encore, C2G, CTBIM Inc., and Riide—were founded by Georgetown alumni and attracted special interest from investors and the press. “Fantastic event and great judges,” Aquicore founder and 2013 MBA graduate Logan Soya said. While many in the audience paid to hear these ideas, nearly 100 tickets were issued free of charge to current students to immerse them in the conversations and environment.
Nathaniel Ru and Nic Jammet, founders of the fast-growing salad chain Sweetgreen and 2007 Georgetown graduates, were the ending keynote speakers. Among other topics, Ru and Jammet discussed the importance of spending time with inspiring and empowering people.
TechBUZZ Georgetown was a huge success. While startup pitch events are a dime a dozen, Friday’s conference went beyond presentations and feedback to facilitate strong connections among current students, alumni founders, and leading investors from across the region. If you were there, you felt the energy and heard the call to action familiar to Georgetown’s culture—transcending dollars and cents to change the world.