On March 30, Georgetown Entrepreneurship hosted the inaugural Demo Day to highlight the 12 early-stage startups from the first Georgetown Startup Accelerator (GSA). The event featured presentations from each startup as well as guest speakers Ted Leonsis (C’77, P’14, P’15), founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and Jonathan Neman (B’07), co-founder and chief executive officer, sweetgreen.
The startups, who presented at Demo Day, are taking advantage of the changes the pandemic has forced and are addressing some of the challenges and opportunities presented throughout the past year. For example, Little Red Box Grocery is using technology to bring healthy food options to food deserts in Galveston, Texas while Hi-RX is expanding at-home routine medical services.
“The Georgetown Startup Accelerator built on every positive experience I have had as a Georgetown student and alumnus,” said Rich Halverson (MBA’17), co-founder of Joint Homes, which offers a modern housing solution for military service members that delivers the benefits of ownership with the flexibility of renting. “The quality of the program, mentors, and our cohort exceeded expectations across the board.”
Overall, the inaugural GSA cohort represented a diverse range of industries, founder backgrounds, and company locations. As a benefit to being hosted virtually this year, the accelerator was able to work with companies from around the world. While many of the companies are based in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding region, some companies participated from locations ranging from VFC Inc. in Bogotá, Columbia, to Home Base Spirits in Berkeley, California.
“GSA is great for first-time founders,”said Aaron Filous (G’15), founder of Promotable, a professional development platform that teaches data analytics skills. “It is a personalized program that covers all of the important elements of being a successful founder. You get access to a great network, and they are invested in your success. It was overall a great experience.”
To be eligible for the program, at least one founder of the company must be an alumnus or alumna of Georgetown University, the company must be for-profit, and applicants must be willing to spend at least 20 hours a week to grow their business throughout the program. Participating companies had the opportunity to work one-on-one with mentors for this remote, nine-week program where they gained valuable industry and community connections, attended workshops with guest speakers, learned alongside other entrepreneurs, and presented their company at Demo Day.
“I could not be more proud of what Georgetown has been moving towards,” said Leonsis. “What it means to be an entrepreneur is not just about starting a company, but it is a new way of thinking — about inculcating change in religion, politics, and so much more – which is what Georgetown stands for.”
Leonsis highlighted Neman as an example of Georgetown’s emphasis on entrepreneurship. Neman started sweetgreen as a student and has focused not only on the company’s profits, but also on health, wellness, and making sure the company’s products are serving a large and growing customer base.
“The greatest opportunities happen when there is the greatest change,” said Neman. “This past year has radically changed the world and accelerated so much from a consumer and technology perspective. If you think about the greatest companies, they created ideas that were already there, but all of a sudden became possible with a sea of change.”
A recording of the event can be found here for those unable to attend Demo Day. Early-stage, alumni founded companies interested in participating in the fall cohort can sign up for more information here.