Georgetown Enterprise Initiative’s annual StartupHoyas Challenge began with preliminary rounds March 23 and March 24 and will culminate in the event “Entrepalooza,” which will be held in the Healey Family Student Center on Monday, April 27.

According to GEI Founding Director Jeff Reid, the current school year has seen a record number of students meeting with representatives from the Entrepreneurs in Residence Program, pitching ideas in the StartupHoyas Challenge and attending events.

“Our ultimate goal is for every single Georgetown student to be exposed to entrepreneurship, and for Georgetown’s culture and community to be fully supportive of entrepreneurship,” Reid wrote in an email.

In the preliminary rounds, students entered their pitches into either the commercial track or the social track of the competition. While both competitions will evaluate business proposals on their potential profitability and sustainability, pitches in the social track will also be evaluated on the social impact the project might have.

At the final event, the eight finalists of the challenge, who will be chosen in the coming days, will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who will award the first and second place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.

GEI Associate Director Alyssa Lovegrove said the Entrepalooza event is a culmination of the organization’s goals over the past year.

“We are a place within Georgetown that organizes everything to do with entrepreneurship,” Lovegrove said. “Entrepalooza is a celebration of everything that has taken place over the course of the year, and we’re really trying to get people excited and to celebrate what they have accomplished.”

Reid echoed Lovegrove and further described the mission of the organization.

“Entrepreneurship is perhaps the most important force for social welfare in the world, and it’s also a very powerful way for an individual to express themselves,” Reid wrote in an email. “The ability and drive to create are inherent in humanity, and we see more and more Georgetown students every year finding their own career path pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.”

The winner of the commercial track competition last year was “Lulu’s Ice Cream,” a nitrogen-infused ice cream that is made using local produce and ingredients. “Misfit Juicery,” a company that makes bottled juice from fresh produce that would normally be wasted because of its unsightly appearance, won the social track competition.

Evan Zimmet (MSB ’17), a student leader in the program who got involved through a competition in 2013, outlined the main goals of StartupHoyas as raising awareness and providing both networking opportunities and real life pitching experience in front judges for students.

“Focusing on entrepreneurship provides student entrepreneurs with many opportunities such as learning how to run their business,” Zimmet said. “They can thrive and have the tools to succeed in the business world.”

Lovegrove added that she was optimistic the event will appeal to people across the university, outside of the business school.

“For people in the community that like engaging with the students, [Entrepalooza] is fun and exciting,” Lovegrove said. “We also want to make sure that people understand that our doors are open to anybody that has any sort of a business idea.”

In addition to the StartupHoyas Challenge, GEI operates other smaller-scale pitch competitions throughout the year, including “Rocket Pitch,” which judges businesses based on a two-minute elevator pitch, and “Twitter Pitch,” which is based on pitches written in 140-character tweets.

Reid emphasized the role of GEI in helping students form future entrepreneurial relationships, test their ideas, come in contact with internships and learn from current entrepreneurs.

“When you work for a startup, you learn so much faster than at a big organization, and you have the ability to make a real impact instead of just being a tiny cog in a huge machine,” Reid wrote. “Entrepreneurs are, at their essence, problem solvers.  The world needs more problem solvers, and the world needs more entrepreneurs.”

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