June 21, 2012
For 3 years, Georgetown University has led an entrepreneurship initiative to help student entrepreneurs during the sizzling summer in our nation’s capital. Last year, 6 student companies shared a desk at Affinity Lab, a local coworking space/incubator. But now, Georgetown has launched an official StartupHoyas Incubator to kickstart 15 fledgling companies.
“Traditionally on this campus, you were more of an outlier if you were interested in entrepreneurship,” says Jeff Reid, director of entrepreneurship at Georgetown and head of the program. But due to a rising interest in startups nationwide and a growing community in DC, things have changed. “Over the last 3 years, we’ve seen the interest level in entrepreneurship just skyrocketing among students at Georgetown,” he says.
For 11 weeks, the startups will work in Georgetown’s Hariri Building to build a product, get advice from investors, lawyers, and other experts, and do pitching activities and networking. This year’s group includes everyone from rising seniors to older adults, with only one-third from Georgetown’s MBA program. They receive no funding or credit, just some gritty business experience.
For example, Local Energy Technologies’s Luke Schoenfelder and Jamil Poonja are tackling the problem of access to electricity in developing countries. They had dinner last week with international political and policy leaders to discuss their technology.
“For us, what has been most helpful is having access to just really incredible mentors and support staffs, both in the Georgetown community and beyond,” says Schoenfelder.
One of the incubator’s goals is to build a campus culture that supports entrepreneurship, riding the recent wave of interest. As students are launching businesses, faculty members are learning the ins and outs of startups – knowledge they can pass on to future classes.
To meet the startups, visit their open house on July 18 or demo day on August 2.
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