Derek Embry (MSB ’15) is the President of StartupHoyas and directed club leadership in executing Entreprelooza, a celebration of entrepreneurship at Georgetown that included the final round of the Startup Hoya Challenge pitch competition, an annual opportunity for students to showcase their innovative business ideas. Read this recap to learn more about the businesses and find out which teams went home with first place prizes.

For the past three years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of being able to work with other passionate students in promoting student entrepreneurship here at Georgetown. When I first started my freshman year, the Startup Hoyas was just beginning its growth and it has been an incredible experience to be part of the team as it evolved to where it is today. The success of Entreprelooza 2014 on April 26, which included the final round of the Startup Hoya Challenge pitch competition, is not only a remarkable moment for the young Hoya entrepreneurs that competed, but also a culmination of years of progress for the Startup Hoyas.

This year, eight teams from across Georgetown’s campus were given the chance to compete for over $15,000 in the Startup Hoya Challenge with first place prizes of $5,000. Out of 54 teams that pitched in the preliminary round earlier in the semester, these eight teams were selected based on the scores given by the judges consisting of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and faculty members. The competition is split into two distinct tracks with four teams in each: the commercial track which is open for all business ideas and the social track, designed to specifically highlight ideas that provide positive social impact.


Contestants in the StartupHoya Challenge pose with their prizes after successfully pitching at Entreprelooza.

Two first place winners and two runners-up were elected by our panel of 16 expert judges, one from each track respectively, that exemplified creative thinking, entrepreneurial vision, business viability, and presentation skill. The first place winner of the Social Track went to Phil Wong and Ann Yang of The Press Room, a business that provides cold pressed juice from produce that simply does not meet grocery store aesthetic requirements and would otherwise be perfectly good to eat. As part of each purchase, The Press Room will also provide subsidized food to “food deserts”, or areas across the city that do not have easy access to supermarkets. Ann and Phil are both undergraduate students in the School of Foreign Service, class of 2015 as well as Entrepreneurship Fellows. Second place was awarded to Internnection, founded by Jeffrey Caso (SFS ’15), a network to connect research mentors with high school students. The semi-finalists were Trent Van Alfen (MBA ’15) and Manish Padhiar (MBA ’16) with Social Impact Connection, an online platform to connect early-stage entrepreneurs with university students, and Capaz, a distributor of eco-friendly feminine hygiene products, by Caitlin Krutsinger (MSFS ’15), Pitchaya Indravudh (MSFS ’15), and Anne Johnson (MSFS ’15).

First place in the Commercial Track was awarded to Lulu’s Ice Cream, a business started by Luisa Santos who is also an Entrepreneurship Fellow and a senior graduating the College this year. Lulu’s Ice Cream uses liquid nitrogen to make smooth and delicious ice cream flavors without the use of preservatives or emulsifiers while sourcing local ingredients. Not only did Luisa take home the first prize of $5,000, but she also came away with the People’s Choice of $500, determined purely from the audience’s opinion. After the competition, Luisa was awarded the Student Entrepreneur of the Year presented by Jeff Reid, the Director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Startup Hoyas. Second place was awarded to Tim Raftis (COL’14), founder of Gen Y Beta, a platform that enables companies to connect with students that can demo their products. Semi-finalists included Rahul Desai (MSB ’17) with Trendify, a tool that predicts startup success, and Mary-Bailey Frank (COL ’17) with Hue-It, an online platform that aims to centralize cosmetic purchases.

 With Entreprelooza 2014 marking the close of the academic year, the Startup Hoyas is now preparing for the Summer Launch Program, a highly selective two-month incubator designed to help students at Georgetown grow their startups by providing on-campus working space and access to mentors and faculty, seminars, and networking events around Washington D.C.