COURTESY DANNY PIERRO Clockwise from top left: Milan Chang (COL ’17), Kristen Bandos (COL ’16), Ann Yang (SFS ’15), Samantha Rhodes (COL ’16), Etana Solomon (COL ’18), Collin Smith (NHS ’15), Sonia Vora (SFS ’15), Kevin Brosnan (COL ’16), Danny Pierro (COL ’15)

Venture Capitol, a new online journal dedicated to entrepreneurship, launched this semester through the efforts of two students whose converging reflections on Georgetown University’s stock career industries led them to create something more iconoclastic.

Sonia Vora (SFS ’15), co-founder and co-editor-in-chief, initially drew inspiration for the site from Princeton University’s science and tech research journal, Innovation. When she observed the uniformity of recruiting season, where students flock to internships in consulting and finance regardless of academic interest or personal passion, she was spurred to action.

“I realized that all my friends didn’t really know what job opportunities were available to them outside of banking and consulting, and that was driving a lot of people to go into those industries even though they didn’t really have an interest in either banking or consulting,” Vora said. “I was kind of shocked to hear that my friends who had never expressed interest in these industries before felt like they were driven to these types of jobs because they didn’t have a choice.”

But Vora was adamant that there was another option.

By March, Vora had connected with Kevin Brosnan (COL ’16), co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Venture Capitol, through Georgetown University’s Initiative on Innovation, Development and Evaluation and began work on the site.

Brosnan had also noted a lack of diversity in Hoyas’ perceived career prospects and a particular vacuum in the tech industry.
“It was really astonishing to me, when I first got here to Georgetown, that Georgetown considers itself an elite university, but the tech community is so marginalized and so underdeveloped here,” he said. “Georgetown is comfortable with its identity of being a school that puts kids into banking or puts kids into finance.”

Venture Capitol seeks to disrupt the status quo of perceived typical Georgetown career paths — a report released by the Cawley Career Education Center showed approximately 25 percent of surveyed students in the class of 2013 went to financial services and consulting — and bring Georgetown’s potential as a startup-friendly school into the spotlight.

“Venture Capitol is working to foster interest in innovation and social entrepreneurship on campus so that current and future students will be able to further develop this community,” Milan Chang (COL ’17), one of the Venture Capitol editors, said.

While many entrepreneurship groups on campus already emphasize computer programming to increase innovation in the Georgetown community, Vora says Venture Capitol, as a reporting mechanism, does not compete with other startup-centric groups on campus, instead bringing the opportunities these groups present into broader focus.

“Our thesis is that there already is a startup ecosystem at Georgetown, but it’s not highlighted enough. So, we’re trying to bring more awareness that these kinds of events and opportunities already exist,” Vora said.

Six months later and newly staffed with 30 Georgetown students, Venture Capitol now highlights three areas: Campus, Community and City.

“Campus” will focus on entrepreneurship events on campus and student startups, but also commercial research done by the Office of Technology Communication. Vora says this type of research has grown nationally, and is a unique, yet understated part of Georgetown’s innovation ecosystem.

“Community” emphasizes alumni startups that Vora hopes will inspire students toward entrepreneurship in a practical way.

“[It offers] a template for current students to also follow in order to kind of launch their careers and startups, but also to build a network of people and stories that students can utilize to find out more about startups,” she said.

Finally, “City” will cover startup opportunities and events in Washington, D.C. The site has already explored General Assembly and WeWork among the city’s tech and startup platforms.

Venture Capitol plans to publish a new article every other day to raise awareness now and possibly change campus career culture in the future.

“While in the future we would love to have a broader audience and maybe act as a vehicle for how kids get involved in their own initiatives and bring about their own start ups… right now we’re really just trying to make people aware of what’s out there for them,” Brosnan said.

Beyond developing Georgetown’s startup culture, Brosnan hopes highlighting opportunities in an atypical industry will inspire Georgetown students to explore other marginalized industries.

“While kids who are interested in the creative arts or creative sciences might not necessarily be sparked by an interest in tech, hopefully this larger movement of kids who are willing to be a little bit more daring or are willing to leave their comfort zone will inspire Georgetown students to explore more avenues when it comes to post-graduate opportunities,” he said.

Venture Capitol welcomes writers, photographers and designers to contribute to the site, as well as any suggestions or comments. Staff writer applications will reopen next semester.

“We want kids who have been intimately involved in tech to join us, we want kids with no technological ability, no tech knowledge to join us, because like we said, it’s all about perspective and it’s all about creating a broader community,” Brosnan said.

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