On Thursday November 17th, Georgetown students and faculty piled into McDonough’s Fisher Colloquium to hear pitches from 25 student entrepreneur teams. At StartupHoyas’ annual Rocket Pitch Competition, teams deliver 2 minute “elevator pitches” to a panel of judges, competing for $2,500 in prizes. Keynote speaker, Steve Taylor, GM of Lyft MidAtlantic left attendees with three pieces of advice:

1. Privilege: Take advantage of the privilege Georgetown affords you. Take risks and lean on your safety net for support.

2. Failure: Failure makes you a better leader. Empathy and compassion are keys to success.

3. Why: Find your “why?” Is it impact? Is it because you love what you? Have a reason that matters and it will propel you.

The event was fruitful for both participants and attendees alike. Ari Goldstein (COL ‘18), shares his reflection on the event: “It was amazing to see so many peers with their own successful startups and so many others with brilliatn ideas at the Rocket Pitch event—particularly those with missions realted to serve and social impact.”

People’s Choice award winner, Jerome Smalls (MSB ’19), attests to the almost tangible spirit of entrepernuership that filled the room: “It felt amazing to be surrounded by so much passion and creativity! There was a certain type of frenzy in the air Thursday night that was not only exciting, but also inspiring to be around. My co-founder and I are more than humbled to have participated and walk away with seed money to start our venture.”

We are excited to announce our 2017 winners:

1st Place: Elizabeth Dente, GUSOM ’21 with Oculus Prime

2nd Place: John Rader, MSB ’18 with GUD Energy

People’s Choice: Derron Payne, MSB ’19 and Jerome Smalls, MSB ’19 with Small Talk


The Rocket Pitch is StartupHoyas’ annual “elevator pitch” competition, where selected Georgetown students from ALL degree programs present a 2 minute pitch for a panel of esteemed judges and an audience of peers and professionals.

When: Thursday, November 16th 2017 6pm

Where: Fisher Colloquium, Hariri Building (McDonough School of Business)

The top two presenters at Rocket Pitch and the “people’s choice” winner receive cash prizes totaling more than $2,500. The event includes a reception with free food where individuals can receive feedback from judges and make connections with leading entrepreneurs in the DC metro area. ALL STUDENTS ARE WELCOME TO COME AND WATCH, EVEN IF YOU AREN’T COMPETING! Make sure to come support your friends and vote for them for the “People’s Choice Award”.

About The Competition

Join StartupHoyas for our annual StartupHoyas Rocket Pitch!

Participating ventures must:
1) Submit one google form per venture by Sunday 11/12 at 11:59pm

Finalists will be emailed by Wednesday, November 16th.

The Final Rocket Pitch will take place in the Fisher Colloquium of the MSB on November 16th 2017 6 P.M.

The 2017 Rocket Pitch winners will receive:
First Place: $1500
Second Place: $750
People’s Choice: $250

Judging Criteria

Presentation: Did they make a logical, understandable and clearly articulated case for their idea?  Do they appear ready, confident, capable of presenting to investors/partners?

Viability: Is the market opportunity compelling?  How sustainable/profitable is the business model likely to be?  If a social venture, how likely to serve stated social goals?

Overall: Based on this presentation I want to learn more – I would move to the next level of due diligence

  1. Individual students or teams may enter the competition.

  2. At least half of the members of the team must be either undergraduate, graduate, or certificate-seeking students currently enrolled at Georgetown University. Only Georgetown students are allowed to pitch.

  3. Students must be either part or full-time students in the semester of the competition.

  4. Participants may not pitch a business that has already received funding greater than $50,000.

  5. Students or teams who were awarded a prize in last year’s Rocket Pitch or StartupHoyas Challenge may not pitch the same business or idea in a subsequent competition; they are eligible to compete again with different business concept.  Ventures that did not receive prize money may be pitched in a subsequent year.

  6. The venture cannot be a wholly owned subsidiary of an existing company or non-profit organization.

  7. Both for-profit and non-profit models are eligible, but the idea must incorporate an income-generating model that will lead to financial sustainability.

  8. Individual participants cannot be a member of more than one team competing in the event.

  9. The StartupHoyas Challenge Planning Committee reserves the right to address any circumstances in which the above rules do not apply.  All decisions will be final.  The Committee also reserves the right to clarify, amend, or change these rules when deemed necessary for fairness.

Advice for Participants

Pitching Advice From our GEI Director, Jeff Reid

Make an appointment with one of our Entrepreneurs in Residence (highly suggested)

Quick Advice –

Hook – Get their attention

Intro – Who you are

Problem – What’s the problem you’re solving?  Who has that problem?  How important is it?

Solution – What’s your solution?

Business Model – How will you make money?

Traction/validation – What evidence tells you (or me) that you’re right?  Sales?  Customer interviews?  MVP?

Ask – Ask for something (investment, a meeting, advice, introduction to potential partner/customer)