A team of students from Georgetown University and Harvard University won first place at the 2022 Georgetown Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Challenge for their software company Mercor.
Brendan Foody (MSB ’25), Surya Midha (SFS ’25) and Adarsh Hiremath, a first-year at Harvard, co-founded Mercor in January 2022. The company pairs teams of skilled engineers with start-ups to meet their development needs.
The trio, all of whom attended the same high school in San Jose, Calif., were awarded a $10,000 prize for being chosen out of 60 teams to win the April 7 Entrepreneurship Challenge, Georgetown’s largest annual pitch competition.
Mercor is the first business to combine software contracting and software recruiting, which is attractive to small start-ups that want to simultaneously grow their product and their team, Foody said.
“The reason that’s really uniquely strategic in the start-up market is because start-ups need their team in-house as they’re iterating their product, growing, and raising venture cash,” Foody said in an interview with The Hoya. “We’re the only software contractor that allows them the predictability and efficiency associated with contracting but also gives them the option to have their team in-house as they grow.”
Undergraduate and graduate students at Georgetown were able to pitch their ideas in the Entrepreneurship Challenge, with competitors giving a five-minute pitch followed by a three-minute question-and-answer session from a panel of judges. The Entrepreneurship Challenge awards separate winners for the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Hiremath said that as a dual recruiting and contracting agency, Mercor works to source tech talent through top Indian Institutes of Technology and then applies their skill sets to specific start-up projects.
“Say they want to build an application or website, or they even want a minor tweak to their existing codebase. They would come to Mercor, and Mercor would use that talent to do high quality work at an affordable price,” Hiremath told The Hoya. “One of the things that Mercor is currently focused on doing is building out our platform where entrepreneurs can go on the platform and then be matched with an engineering team of the appropriate skill set.”
Mercor plans to sponsor a hackathon at IIT Kharagpur, a top computer science college in India on April 27.
The coding club at IIT Kharagpur invited students from a variety of Indian Institutes of Technology to compete in the hackathon for the opportunity to work at Mercor, Hiremath said.
“There are 500 participants in the competition, and they’re all competing for an opportunity to work at Mercor and work on the software products that we have for clients,” Hiremath said. “We believe that sourcing talent early is one of the best ways possible to get that talent, and we’re doing that by partnering with IITs.”
Mercor has seen success with clients at Georgetown University and beyond, like Pentada, a platform for finance and commerce apps. Additionally, the company built the dashboard and QR code for Attend, an app that allows professors to create a QR code that a student can scan to log their class attendance.
Recently, Mercor partnered with Chris Delaney (MSB ’25) on his project, Hoyadle, a spin-off of the popular online game Wordle.
Delaney said that Foody’s work at Mercor helped to turn his code for Hoyadle into a reality.
“As soon as I told him about it, he was able to access the domain for me to get access and upload the code to the website and run it within a few hours,” Delaney said in an interview with The Hoya. “Most of what he developed was making the website actually real and putting the website to the domain, and he also helped with marketing by advertising it on Instagram and reaching out to some other Georgetown related accounts to advertise for us.”
In the future, Mercor hopes to partner with venture capital firms to receive referrals for early stage investments. By working with venture capital firms, Mercor can ensure that their business endeavors involve companies with sufficient levels of capital to be successful, Foody said.
To meet increased demand for software contracting and development, Mercor must continue to develop its new platforms to scale.
“For us, as co-founders, the thing we want to improve on is making sure we have a very rigorous, scalable process to manage a ton of projects concurrently,” Hiremath said. “Because, ultimately, the way we take Mercor to the next level is by efficiently managing all of those components. That’s one of our biggest priorities.”