Georgetown entrepreneurs chase their dream at ‘Bark Tank’

It was the summer of 1976, the Bicentennial year, and Ted Leonsis, then a student at Georgetown University, was full of entrepreneurial spirit.

He sold red, white and blue snow cones with the slogan “Be Patriotic — Eat a Snow Cone.” Now, some serious green — at least $100,000 — is up for grabs to Georgetown student and alumni entrepreneurs at the Leonsis Family Entrepreneurship Prize “Bark Tank.”

Think the TV show “Shark Tank,” except it is titled “Bark Tank” — fittingly, since the Georgetown mascot is a bulldog. The competing entrepreneurs won’t be be barking, but they will have three minutes to convince a panel of judges that their idea is the best during Wednesday’s event at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

“There is something magical about starting your own company,” said Leonsis, a member of Georgetown’s Class of ’77. “I wanted to bring that ethos and create a prize at Georgetown. We pick winners and give gifts to get kids started. It is not an investment; it is, ‘Here is some money, and now go and make your idea into something that is real.'”

There are eight finalists for this year’s “Bark Tank,” and there will be more than one champion. Usually, three or four winners are selected.

Leonsis appreciates his alma mater for creating this platform, which he says makes starting your own business an attractive option instead of working for someone else.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy,” Leonsis said. “Right now is the best time to start a company, especially when the economy is bad. There is real need out there, and if you can solve that problem and get funded you will be a real growth company when the economy turns.”

The eight finalists for this year’s competition are:


Carlos Bello and Jinsung Bach (B’22)

Budeli is a property tech amenity that partners with residential complexes to provide $2 food delivery for apartment residents with no tips or hidden fees.


Victor Dreame (C’23)

Dreame provides women and queer people with life coaching, tools and advice through social media to help them attract the romantic partner and life of their dreams.


Victoria Gomes-Boronat (G’22)

LUCIO is a social gaming platform that uses shared interests, shared experiences and geolocation matching algorithms to connect users of similar interests, age and proximity, providing research-supported ways to bond through gameplay and other shared experiences.


Kilian Liptrot (L’23)

Tessen designs innovative camera products inspiring photographers to travel often and carry light.

Homemade in DC

Mackenzie Loy (B’22)

Homemade in DC is an online marketplace connecting local food entrepreneurs to businesses, offering corporate catering and custom gift boxes that are sourced locally from women, people of color and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.


Besart Copa (SFS’22)

Chestr is a universal, single-click wishlist that lets you save items, add them to lists, share them with friends and track discounts.

Proxy Foods

Panos Kostopoulos (G’22)

Proxy Foods offers the world’s first B2B flavor optimization AI platform specifically created for alternative proteins. By consolidating and transforming billions of data points into answers, food companies can develop better products, faster, through computational modeling and guided innovation.

Global Pal

Neal Singal (B’23)

Global Pal empowers small and medium-sized restaurants through an easy-to-use, cost-effective mobile payment platform.

This year’s Bark Tank judges include Ted Leonsis (Founder, chairman and CEO of MSE), Zach Leonsis (President for Media and New Enterprises at MSE), Peter Biche (CFO of MSE), Grant Hastings (SVP for New Enterprises at MSE), Andrew Wallace (investment officer at Revolution Acceleration) and Fazeela Rashid (partner at Revolution Growth).

Editor’s Note: WTOP’s Dave Johnson works for Monumental Sports and Entertainment as the radio voice of the Washington Wizards.

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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