HR Geckos is a Top 5 Company at the Universities at Shady Grove Equity Incubator

Minority Entrepreneurs Shine at the Universities at Shady Grove Equity Incubator: $10,000 Awarded to Top Team

On April 19th, the The Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership (The Lab) hosted its third Equity Incubator Showcase at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). As a result of the exciting “Shark Tank” style competition, one team took home the grand prize of $10,000 in funding.

This 8-week program is the region’s largest Minority Entrepreneurship Incubator and is facilitated by expert instructors from University Startups.  Throughout the program, local entrepreneurs and small business owners participate in workshops, research, experiments, and mentoring to develop their business ideas. Course curriculum is provided by University Startups. 

In total, teams achieved over $200,000 in additional revenue and acquired more than 200 new customers.

Five teams qualified to compete in the showcase at the conclusion of the 8-week course. Held in the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Building at USG, the evening opened with a VIP Networking Hour where program participants had the opportunity to meet the judges and other key figures in attendance. The judging panel included local business leaders: Haroon Mokhtarzada (Rocket Money), Jillian Copeland (Main Street, MoCo 360), and David McNairy (DABOS)

Dr. Anne Khademian, Executive Director of USG, delivered the keynote speech kicking off the event. Professor Le-Marie Thompson, the Equity Incubator Instructor, and Francisco Cartagena, Coordinator of The Lab, welcomed guests and introduced the five finalists teams: 

  • The Laundry Basket


    A mobile laundry and dry-cleaning delivery service in the Greater DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia area (Hyacinth Tucker)

  • SHIFT Work+Play:

    A family-friendly coworking space in Frederick, Maryland, that provides staffed play sessions for children while their parents work (Megan Donavan)

  • La Magnoliah


    Inspired by her son, Coumba realized her passion for creating quality garments using chemical-free and breathable fabrics like Pima cotton to promote healthy and ethically made fabrics in the kid’s wear industry. (Coumba Graves)

  • HR Geckos


     an AI-powered digital HR operations platform (Jay Polaki)

  • EPICC Technologies


    An app to improve cognitive and communication skills in adults with neurological disorders(Kamilah Mantle)

After each presentation, the esteemed panel of judges had the opportunity to give feedback, ask questions, and score each team on their business concept, traction, and presentation. After the judges’ deliberation, the $10,000 first place prize was awarded to La Magnoliah.

The Equity Incubator will expand in Fall 2023 to welcome 100 ventures based in Maryland. If you are interested in participating, the application can be found  here

About the Equity Incubator:

The Equity Incubator and other programs of the Entrepreneurship Lab are made possible in part through grant funding from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, WorkSource Montgomery, the David and Mikel Blair Family Foundation, and other supporters. More information about the lab and its various programs can be found on the USG website.

To view a photo gallery of the event, click here.

About University Startups: Founded in 2020, University Startups is committed to creating opportunities for students and lifelong learners to expand their worlds beyond a traditional curriculum. The organization empowers students by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, which helps students to think creatively and find ways to translate their passions into real-world experiences. Whether students want to start a business, attend college, or find a job, University Startups uses proprietary instructional courses and groundbreaking technologies to get them there. All classes are designed by expert instructors from top-tier universities.