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New Programs Give Budding Entrepreneurs a Fighting Chance

October 8, 2014 – Two new Georgetown initiatives are preparing students for the entrepreneurial landscape through a partnership with local startup incubator 1776 and a new Startup Stipends program designed to help graduating seniors.

Starting next semester, Georgetown graduating seniors will compete for stipends up to the amount of their student loan debt to assist them in launching an entrepreneurial venture.

As new alumni, the recipients can use the stipend to support some of the costs associated with their startup business or in whole or part to pay off the loans they used to attend the university.

Taking the Pressure Off

“I often talk with Georgetown students who tell me they would love to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity, but they are prevented from doing so because of their immediate obligation to start paying their student loans,” says Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative. “The Startup Stipend releases a lot of the pressure recent graduates feel about starting a company in that it gives them the peace of mind that they will receive assistance with their expenses.”

Alumna Victoria Schramm’s (C’12) family provided seed funding to support the Startup Stipend program.

Schramm, an art history major, spent most of her days in the business school focusing on entrepreneurship. She’s now director of events for UP Global, an organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, grassroots leaders and strong communities.

“It’s extremely important for our country’s economic future for us to generate more entrepreneurs,” she says.

Unique Offer

Reid hopes Georgetown can serve as a model for other universities.

“Similar programs exist to encourage graduates to pursue careers in public interest law or teaching,” he says. “We thought it would be a good idea to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the same way, since entrepreneurs provide huge value to society by solving problems, creating jobs and growing the economy.”

“We know of no other school offering this sort of opportunity, though we certainly hope others will follow,” Reid adds.

Interdisciplinary Initiative

The university’s partnership with 1776 provides students, faculty and staff access to dedicated space at the 1776 campus in downtown Washington, D.C.

“[This partnership] provides Georgetown … with valuable connections to the real world of entrepreneurship, both locally in D.C. and globally with [1776’s] worldwide startup network,” Reid says. “This partnership will benefit the entire Georgetown community as we continue to promote entrepreneurship across the various schools and units on campus.”

Georgetown created its entrepreneurship initiative with input from the university’s McDonough School of Business, Law Center, School of Continuing Studies and the Office of Community Engagement.

Jesse Flores (C’16), an English major and co-chair of Startup Hoyas, interns at the local incubator, which offers mentorship, corporate connections, media attention, access to educational classes and events for D.C.’s burgeoning startup community.

“1776 has a unique work space filled with brilliant, tenacious and innovative people looking to make a difference in areas that matter,” says Flores, who is in the customer discovery phase with a mobile application that functions similarly to Spyware for parents with teenage drivers. “The new partnership means Georgetown students have the ability to interact with this community. This is invaluable to any Hoya with startup dreams, myself included.”

Startup Ecosystem

Campus organizations such as the Law Center’s Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic will expand their D.C. community network by participating in programming at 1776.

“Georgetown is an incredible university, and we’re thrilled to support their initiatives to foster student entrepreneurship across the entire institution,” said Donna Harris, cofounder of 1776. “The more that students can get into the startup ecosystem and get hands on with startups, the more we can build a strong pipeline of entrepreneurs for tomorrow.”

The 1776 partnership and the new Startup Stipends program build on Georgetown’s existing resources for entrepreneurs – such as Startup Weekend, which ran from Sept. 19 to Sept. 21; the Entrepreneurs in Residence Program, Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day and more.