Applications opened this week for StartupHoyas’ Entrepreneurship Fellows program. The program, which began in 2010 with the Class of 2013, offers sophomore students from all four schools the opportunity to engage with a group of peers who have a vested interest in entrepreneurship.
Fellows take three entrepreneurship electives through the McDonough School of Business, culminating in the Entrepreneurial Practium their senior year, where students work at a Washington, D.C. startup five to 10 hours a week and present a case study of their particular company in class.
Fellows must also participate in the Hoya Challenge pitch competition, which is open to all students, before they graduate.
Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative that is widely known as StartupHoyas, led the effort to create the Entrepreneurship Fellows in 2010, when only one eponymous entrepreneurship course was offered at Georgetown.
As the program has expanded, so has its inclusiveness.
“When the program was created, it was designed for business students, but it’s always been an important goal of mine to not have those kind of limitations. So after a year or so, we were able to loosen that restriction so that non-business students are eligible, and we have had a lot of non-business students go through the program over the last few years,” Reid said.
The interdisciplinary nature of the program is now one of its greatest strengths, says Associate Director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and Co-Director of Entrepreneurship Fellows Alyssa Lovegrove.
“I think entrepreneurship certainly is a very hot topic for students both in and out of the business school and one of the things that’s nice about it is, for me, it’s one of the ways we get that sort of cross-disciplinary focus into the classroom.
Typically entrepreneurship classes do have a lot of kids from outside of the business school in them, and I think that really just makes for a nice, rich environment,” she said.
The Fellows program also offers an in-class experience unique to StartupHoyas, which mainly offers extracurricular involvement with entrepreneurship, with programs such as a weekly speaker series, Summer Launch Program and an internship subsidy program.
“We create multiple avenues for students to interact with us because students’ interests can be very different and can come at different times in their college career,” Reid said.
Much of StartupHoyas’ initiatives can be utilized at any time as a largely extracurricular pursuit, in the case of recent Georgetown alumna Luisa Santos (COL ’14) of Lulu’s Ice Cream, who Reid says only began plans for her business in her senior year. Entrepreneurship Fellows, however, offers students a long-term exposure to the startup experience that may manifest itself in different ways.
“We’re hoping [the Fellows] come away with a set of skills and a mindset that would help them launch businesses in the future or join another startup or early-stage company, or simply have an entrepreneurial mindset in whatever career they so choose,” Lovegrove said.
Entrepreneurship has become an international buzzword, according to Reid.
“There is an absolute positive upward trend and interest in entrepreneurship among millennials all over the world,” Reid said. “I think at its root, it’s a part of human nature to want to create things, and when young, ambitious, bright people like we have at Georgetown realize that they have the ability to do their own thing, many of them are really excited about pursuing that.”
Reid also said Georgetown’s Jesuit identity aligns with entrepreneurship.
“The Jesuit order itself is incredibly entrepreneurial, in the way they’ve grown over the centuries and done new and creative things and gone places nobody else had been. It also fits in because there’s a Jesuit principle that each individual should choose a path based on the answers to three key questions. Those questions are ‘What do I love to do?’; ‘What am I good at doing?’; and ‘What does the community need?’… Those are the same questions we ask in entrepreneurship,” he said.
Lovegrove agrees, saying the qualities that will distinguish Fellows applicants’ entrepreneurial spirit complements the typical Georgetown student’s strengths.
“What we’re looking for is just the personal qualities that we think you see in many successful entrepreneurs, and, candidly, those are the same qualities I think we look for in Georgetown students in general when they apply: leadership qualities, a willingness to take initiative, to dive in, a certain amount of intellectual curiosity and creativity, perseverance,” she said.
Recently, the MSB has gained significant recognition in the media. LinkedIn ranked Georgetown first in investment banking and third in finance in reports released earlier this month, and this summer, USA Today named the MSB the number six national undergraduate business school.
“I think Georgetown’s quickly becoming a leader in entrepreneurship,” Reid said. “But I think it’s important that we keep growing our programs to remain competitive, because students today, when they’re choosing their college, many of them are very interested in going to a school that has entrepreneurial programs, and if Georgetown doesn’t have these programs, we might lose some of the best students to other schools.”
Lovegrove assures that Entrepreneurship Fellows is not the end of the academic arm of entrepreneurship at Georgetown.
“Our hope is, over time, that we will be able to produce an entrepreneurship minor that will be open to all undergraduate students in all degree programs,” Lovegrove said.“So this is a way of kind of exploring what that would look like and what kind of content we would build into that program, how it would work.”
Members of the Class of 2017 will be able to apply through Oct. 24.