Once again, Georgetown University entrepreneurs impressed Ted Leonsis at the school’s Bark Tank pitch competition. And once again, the Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO and founder put some bonus prize money into the pot.
The Georgetown alum added $50,000 to the $100,000 Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship award that was ultimately distributed to all eight companies participating, “so that everyone sees something to keep them going, and to be honest, for you also to be able to say you won a prize,” Leonsis said at the virtual event.
“Learn how to leverage that, because it becomes really, really important, because what we’re giving you isn’t enough,” he said, “but having the imprimatur of saying… you won a prize and now you can go and apply and try to get additional dollars.”
The move brought a hint of déjà vu from the 2020 event, when Leonsis gifted another $55,000 to get more funding to the school’s homegrown businesses. And the push for greater support to early-stage, diverse startups — with increased interest in social impact investing — continues.
The annual contest, its name an allusion to university mascot Jack the Bulldog and the ABC reality show “Shark Tank,” is part of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative within the university’s McDonough School of Business.
This year, judges included Leonsis, who is also founder and partner of Revolution Growth; Christy Felix, senior associate at State Street Corp. and founder of UHustle; Shavini Fernando, founder and CEO of OxiWear; Kelsey Lents, co-founder of Two Birds; Monica Dixon, chief administrative officer and president of external affairs for Monumental; Mina Faltas, founder and managing member of Washington Harbour Partners LP; Pete Markuson, chief financial officer of the Leonsis family office; and Osman Nur, associate at Revolution Growth.
“We’re coming out of a pandemic, we’re reopening the economy, I think now more than ever entrepreneurs are important,” Leonsis said to the audience at the contest. “We became a society that was dependent on the government, the government is the least entrepreneurial, least business-oriented organization imaginable — and the only way we’re going to get our way out of what’s happened is to grow, and the way we’ll grow is small businesses and entrepreneurial new startups.”
Here are the winners: