COURTESY STARTUP HOYAS Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776, accepts a sign from members of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship community to signify their new partnership.
Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776, accepts a sign from members of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship community to signify their new partnership.

Continuing the spirit of entrepreneurial education on campus, Georgetown has recently partnered with 1776, a startup incubator and venture capital fund based in Washington, D.C. The partnership will provide students and faculty with a direct link to the District’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as access to the facilities, events and internships offered by 1776.

“1776 provides Georgetown students and faculty with valuable connections to the real world of entrepreneurship, both locally in D.C. and globally with their worldwide startup network,” said Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and professor of entrepreneurship. “This partnership will benefit the entire Georgetown community as we continue to promote entrepreneurship across the various schools and units on campus.”

Connecting the most promising startups with the resources they need to excel, 1776 brings expertise and experience in the startup world to students’ doorsteps. The entrepreneurial platform serves as a hub for startups specializing in education, energy, health care and government challenges. The group brings experts from a vast background of interests and industries to provide mentorship opportunities to students.

“1776 provides Georgetown students with an incomparable opportunity to interact with innovators in our community,” Dean of Georgetown School of Continuing Studies Kelly Otter said. “I look forward to seeing students’ ideas come to fruition with the mentorship and guidance of 1776’s vast network of entrepreneurs.”

Jesse Flores (COL ’16), a current intern at 1776, plans events at the center to engage the community in different entrepreneurship activities. He commented on the atmosphere 1776 provides that existing on-campus study spaces lack.

“When it comes to what 1776 can offer, a lot of it is open working space with people around you that are doing pretty much the same thing,” Flores said. “Everybody in there is just as passionate and just as driven to get their idea to where they’re trying to get it to be.”

Students also might be interested in taking advantage of the different kinds of technology 1776 supplies. These perks include access to the Microsoft Innovation Lounge that opened last spring, which features the latest Microsoft software and devices.

The partnership is experiencing a growing on-campus interest in entrepreneurship — over 100 students signed up for Startup Hoyas at the recent Student Activities Fair.

This growing community of entrepreneurship is not exclusive to the McDonough School of Business, but characteristic of all schools. Associate Dean of Planning at the School of Continuing Studies Kristen Consolo described securing the partnership as a collaborative process. The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown Law Center, School of Continuing Studies and Office of Community Engagement all had a role in the development of this new opportunity.

Manager of Communications at the School of Continuing Studies Andrew Glass emphasized the opportunities that 1776 brings to faculty as well as students.

“It’s definitely something that throughout the process we thought was very important to offer to our entire community because these entrepreneurial ideas don’t just come from students,” he said.

Current students are excited about the opportunities that could emerge from the partnership, particularly the networking tools and educational opportunities.

“1776 is going to provide great opportunities to Georgetown students from every school, not just the MSB. Entrepreneurship is something everyone should learn as it teaches you a different way of approaching problems, which is applicable in real life just as much as it is in business,” Vlad Kondratiuk (MSB ’16) said.

However, to many students, entrepreneurship remains enigmatic.

“Entrepreneurship has always been an interesting topic to me, but I don’t know the process of creating a business,” Sarah Stolz (COL ’16) said. “I am always thinking of products that would be really useful to me in everyday life, but they aren’t always practical in a business sense. So, I just pass them off, thinking they would be impossible.”

According to Reid, 1776 is valuable for Georgetown and fits with the overall mentality of the campus community. There is already substantial interest among both students and faculty in signing up for events and utilizing the 1776 space.

“Anyone can attend 1776 events and learn a lot, but the best way to learn about entrepreneurship is through internships. There are a lot of postings on both the 1776 website as well as the Startup Hoyas website from companies that are looking for students to provide new perspectives on problems,” Reid said. “If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and provide a way to help, a lot of startups would love to have you.”

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