Georgetown Students Host Second Annual Sustainability Ideathon

While most of campus activity has moved online, student passion for sustainability and entrepreneurship persists in the virtual environment. This spring, a Georgetown student group, Plan-It Earth, hosted its second annual sustainability ideathon supported by Georgetown Entrepreneurship, the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, and Allbirds. This event brought together students from the Georgetown campus and across the nation to ideate business solutions to our most pressing environmental concerns.

This year’s theme, Urban Development in the Age of Climate Change, challenged participants to think about sustainability guided by UN SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 13 (Climate Action). Part ideathon part pitch competition, Plan-It Earth was founded with the mission to highlight the intersection between environmentalism and business. Over the course of the weekend, students had the opportunity to engage with keynote speakers, attend breakout sessions to gain critical insights and skills, network with industry experts, and utilize their learnings to form business ideas with their team members, culminating in a pitch competition at the end of the event where teams presented their business ideas.

Serving as a holistic learning experience for earth-minded participants, the event occurred over the course of two days with a different focus on each day. On the first day, students explored sustainability issues and dove into what it means to develop a social impact venture. Over the course of the second day, as participants finalized their business idea, they learned from entrepreneurs to learn critical business skills to take their business to the pitch and beyond. Across both days, the participant learning experience was enhanced through hands-on mentorship from industry professionals.

“Although this event moved to a virtual format this year, we were so thrilled that so many participants were able to continue to engage with the ideathon to to learn important business development skills, create bonds with other team members, and form potentially socially and environmentally impactful ventures,” said May Tan, co-chair, Plan-It Earth.

Over 30 participants joined the event, forming nine teams that focused on a diverse range of issues from reducing plastic pollution in college campuses to using algorithms and data to protect bird migration in the future of commercial drone usage. Here are the winners:

First Place: Cool Compost

Cool Compost aims to create the best indoor compost collection product for the residential market. With current options leaving bugs and odors, Cool Compost will revolutionize the market by creating the first ever compost bin that prevents bugs and odors. The product is accompanied by a companion app that provides users with various features. The Cool Compost caddy and app work in tandem to create an all-in-one platform for composters to start or continue their environmental journey.

Team members: Jaewoo Ahn (C‘23), Anna Csigirin (B’23), Elizabeth Mao (C‘24), Seamus Masterson (C‘22), and Gracey Owen (B‘22).

Second Place: Pick it Up!

Pick it Up!,a project supported by the U.S. Census Bureau, seeks to tackle the plastic pollution issue on the Georgetown campus. First, they built three educational modules teaching students about recycling and environmental activism. Then, they partnered with the Wilson Center and the Earth Day Network on the Earth Challenge 2020 App. Lastly, they created a strategy playbook, providing guidance for other campuses to replicate their initiative.

Team members: Jamal Jaffer (C‘21), GIllian Meyers (SFS‘23), Anya Wahal (SFS ‘23)

Third Place: Roost

Roost will leverage pre-existing data: large scale migration data from research institutions, local data on crowdsourced bird observations from mobile apps like iNaturalist and Audobon, observations from customers’ drones, and specialized radar system (RoostRadar) with microdoppler, to build a daily map of no-fly zones for drones. The software will generate optimal flight paths to minimize the number of drone-bird interactions each day. As they build reliability and reputation, they aim to license to DJI, so that the drones they sell come pre-downloaded with this software.

Team members: Daniel Castro (Georgia Tech M.Arch ‘23), Joon Park (G‘21), and Alex Weck (Duke CEE M.Eng ‘21).


After the event, Plan-It Earth is hoping to continue to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of this year’s cohort through its expert network and developmental opportunities from Georgetown Entrepreneurship. 

Looking to get involved with Plan-It Earth for next year? Email to start the conversation.