UHustle, an online marketplace developed by Georgetown University students to connect college students running side businesses with potential customers, won $30,000 at Georgetown’s annual entrepreneurship competition, Bark Tank, on Nov. 14.
The Bark Tank competition, which seeks to financially support business ventures created by Georgetown entrepreneurs, was supported by Ted Leonsis (CAS ’77), founder and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based production company Monumental Sports & Entertainment and hosted by Georgetown Entrepreneurship. Groups participated in the competition to win prizes from a total pool of $100,000. To reflect Georgetown’s Jesuit values, the prize supports Georgetown entrepreneurs that are addressing relevant global issues, according to the university website.
The Bark Tank competition allows students the opportunity to develop business ideas that have a positive global impact, according to Jeff Reid, founding director of Georgetown Entrepreneurship. Last year’s winner was Shavini Fernando (GRD ’18), whose venture O2Wear monitors oxygen levels for individuals living with heart defects.
“Our recent Bark Tank event was a powerful showcase for the aspiring entrepreneurs emerging from Georgetown,” Reid wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Through programs like Bark Tank, we help Georgetown students identify and channel their entrepreneurial energy to make the world better.”
Current Georgetown students, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as Georgetown alumni who have graduated in the last six months, were eligible to participate in the competition. This year’s winning venture was UHustle, a marketplace developed for students with side businesses to help them earn money through their side jobs through a streamlined online platform. UHustle, which was founded in October 2018 by Christy Felix (MSB ’20), Sinclaire Jones (MSB ’22) and Benjamin Ogbonna II (MSB ’20), was awarded $30,000 as the first place competitor.
Before this year’s Bark Tank, Felix had already won multiple Georgetown-associated entrepreneurship competitions using UHustle, including Ventures and Values, Rocket Pitch and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Felix plans on using the prize money from the Bark Tank competition to continue developing and improving UHustle’s platform in the hopes of expanding the venture’s staff in the coming months.
“Bark Tank gave UHustle the platform we needed to enhance our network and get help (for free),” Felix wrote. “We are currently looking for on campus coders to help UHustle improve upon our platform.”
In addition to UHustle, two other business ventures, Globally Unified Air Quality and Unveil, tied for second place in the Bark Tank competition, each earning $20,000 in prize money.
The panel of judges who scored the event consisted of Leonsis and business industry leaders including Steve Barnes (CAS ’88, LAW ’92), co-founder and president of Homesnap, and Peter Biché (MSB ’78), CFO at Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
GUAQ addresses air pollution around the world through its development of a cost-effective air sensor technology, according to Pascal Girard, the team’s mentor and advisor.
“92% of the world’s population is breathing bad air. Not surprisingly, countries with the worst air pollution have the least (if any) Air Quality (AQ) monitoring,” Girard wrote in an email to The Hoya. “To address this disparity, Georgetown students and faculty are designing and building a highly modular, Internet-Of-Things air quality monitor.”
Georgetown entrepreneurs should take advantage of the campus resources available to students to develop their ideas, such as the Maker Hub and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge, according to Michael Bartholic (COL ’22), one of the founders of GUAQ, which began as a project created in the Maker Hub in Lauinger Library.
“I think it should not be understated how much one can accomplish with even modest resources and the commitment to experiment,” Bartholic wrote.
Unveil, the other second-place finisher, is a wellness brand that seeks to raise awareness about women’s health. The venture will donate a reusable sanitary product to a woman in a developing country for every undergarment sold in the U.S., according to Katie Fischer (GRD ’20), Unveil’s founder.
“While addressing health issues in the U.S. market, Unveil also addresses issues around menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in developing countries,” Fischer wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Fischer got the idea for her new business during a trip to Liberia, where she witnessed first-hand the challenges that many girls in the country faced around affording menstrual hygiene products.
Fischer plans to use the prize to further develop Unveil, including creating a viable prototype for early customers and guide future product progress, she wrote.
“With the funding I have won, I will now be able to develop MVPs, which is huge,” Fischer wrote. “With a product in hand, I can begin to crowdfund, beta test and continue to refine our business model.”