Fresh Ideas on Entrepreneurship

The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, known as StartupHoyas, has been the primary force for strengthening the entrepreneurial culture at Georgetown. The chief programming includes: two yearly pitch competitions with monetary prizes for award winners, weekly chalk-talks with successful alumni, startup weekend and entrepalooza (both of which are essentially the startup equivalent of a Hackathon), the Summer launch program, and the student loan debt relief for graduates wishing to pursue ventures. In addition, the entrepreneurship fellows program and the entrepreneurship certificate are two key academic programs that provide a curriculum and a degree institutional support for aspiring entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship at Georgetown is gaining steam, and overall our campus is developing socially conscious entrepreneurs that have a desire to do well and do good. There are many resources on campus that aim to incorporate students that aren’t in the business school into the entrepreneurial culture: namely the Entrepreneurship LLC open to first year students from all four schools, certain business school courses with spots reserved for non-MSB students, and the previously mentioned StartupHoyas programming open to all. As a result, there have recently been several very successful companies that show what can happen when Hoyas put their minds together: Sweetgreen, Misfit Juicery, Sunniva Coffee, and many more. The overarching problem that remains despite the growing efforts to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture at Georgetown stems from the lack of official, structured institutional support and issues of funding. Currently, it is a violation of our code of conduct for students to operate a business while on campus, and it is even against the rules to use the Saxanet for entrepreneurial purposes. These types of institutional barriers in addition to the inherently stressful nature of entrepreneurship make students all the less likely to take risks on launching ventures. These obstacles have also resulted in the even more apparent absence of a dedicated space for students to sell their products/services and get customer feedback.

Initiatives:

  • Remove the Ban on Entrepreneurship: We will work hand-in-hand with student leaders and administrators from StartupHoyas as well as University legal representatives to advocate for the “legalization” of entrepreneurship on campus. This will be the first step in our long-term goal of creating a campus in which students are encouraged to actually implement their business ideas while at Georgetown.
  • Create a Startup Market: In order to provide budding entrepreneurs a platform through which they can test their ideas, we aim to create a weekly or biweekly marketplace, similar to the Farmer’s Market, in which students can apply to reserve a table sell their products and/or services. Operating in this space will prepare student entrepreneurs for pitching to investors who always want to see proof of concept. Sellinger Lounge or The Healey Family Student Center are tentatively the places in we envision will best serve this purpose.
  • Centralize information about where students can secure funding based on the type of venture that students would like to pursue: StartupHoyas competition, SIPS, GUSA Fund, GUSA emergency fund, Corp Philanthropy, and Fellowships
  • Celebrate Entrepreneurship More: Because entrepreneurship is a relatively new emphasis of Georgetown’s culture, successful startups and companies founded by Georgetown alumni are not being celebrated and highlighted in a way that could potentially inspire current Hoyas to follow their dreams and pursue an idea. This simple cultural shift will have a huge impact on the awareness and perception of entrepreneurship as a viable career path for students that may not have previously viewed it as such.
  • Ensure there is workspace on campus for budding entrepreneurs that everyone knows about:
    • Advocate for a WeWorks Lab to be added to Car Barn, especially great because it would be a space outside of the business school
    • Convert a townhouse into a permanent house for undergraduate students to improve the entrepreneurial culture