Making Moves At McDonough: Entrepreneurial Georgetown MBAs Get Scrappy With Startups

Sean Stanton

It’s not every day that your ideas blow up in your face, but when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a possibility you anticipate all the time. For Sean Stanton, a second-year MBA student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School, this possibility became a reality – literally.

It was January 2020, and he had started his boat rental company, Delray Beach Boat Rentals, a little over a year ago. Business was good, so he re-invested thousands of dollars in upgrades for his existing fleet.

“On the first trip that went out after renovations, the boat’s engine blew up,” he said. “Then, a month later, a renter hurt himself while on my boat and tried to sue me for $80,000. That’s when the roller coaster really began.”

Thanks to a combination of wits, luck, and learnings from his MBA, Sean has since dug his business out of the hole and made it profitable. Merely applying to business school made a big difference in his business model, when he setup a website to show off his business to the admissions team. That change ended alone up driving 95% of his revenue – a completely unintended result.

Sean and three other current McDonough students say the MBA program has made them more likely to succeed in their entrepreneurial efforts.

Julian Oquendo (Left) and James Azar (Right)


James Azar and Julian Oquendo, two second-year McDonough students, explained that coming to Georgetown McDonough was the origin of their startup idea. The two met over beers one day after class, where they began discussing how challenging and costly it was to apply to business school, submitting essays and taking the GMAT – even obtaining their own undergraduate transcripts was difficult.

“Why do we need to prove these accomplishments for things we’ve already earned?”, James asked. “Why don’t I own that? Credentials, like official transcripts, sit with third parties.”

That was all the ammunition they needed to start their own company. Reservoir, a modernized credentials platform, leverages blockchain technology to create and distribute digital credentials authentically, without the need for middlemen. Alumni can hold the credentials in their digital wallet, and schools can gain a consistent connection with their alumni.

Not only did McDonough trigger the idea, but it was part of the inception as well. The undergraduate business school served as their first customer, and faculty and administrators supported James and Julian’s idea along the way.

“The program wanted to do something special for the class of 2020 since they didn’t have an in-person graduation,” Julian said. “Patricia Grant [senior associate dean in the McDonough undergraduate program] quickly became our champion. We worked hand-in-hand with her to deliver the first version for that class’s graduation.”

José Miguel Farías


José Miguel Farías, a first-year McDonough student, is only a quarter into his MBA. However, he is already reaping dividends for his two startups back in Venezuela. José had started FINBI, an online educational platform, and Clabe Ganadera, a crowdfunding platform focused on the agricultural sector, just 18 months before starting at Georgetown McDonough.

The success that his businesses have seen so far is impressive: the EdTech platform recently surpassed reaching 3,000 students, and the AgTech platform exceeded 1.5 million pounds of beef production with more than 50 collaborators. Since international students are not allowed to hold jobs outside of the university, José has had to separate himself from both companies to be able to pursue his MBA.

Despite his achievements so far, José says there is still more work to be done and more goals to be reached. He believes his MBA will get him there.

“Since the opening term, I feel that everything has added a lot to me as an entrepreneur,” José said. “From the Structure and Global Industries classes to the exchanges of ideas with my classmates, I feel that every interaction I have at the university has an added value for me that is unquantifiable.”


Ben Zimmerman

Ben Zimmerman, managing director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative (GEI), added that Georgetown offers several opportunities for students to explore their entrepreneurial side.

Some of those opportunities include mentorship with entrepreneurs-in-residence, weekly informational sessions, and an accelerator program. On top of that, students can take specific entrepreneurship electives, join the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital student club, or participate in the annual Venture Capital Investment Competition that takes place every fall. GEI also offers a summer launch incubator, which is a month-long sprint all about how to launch a business.

“The thing I like most about Georgetown’s entrepreneurship program is just the sense of community we have here,” Ben said. “The startup world is grounded in the fact that it’s all-hands-on-deck to meet customers’ needs. That mantra lives in what we do. It’s all about helping each other out.”

Beyond the structured programs, Sean, who owns the boat rental company, said talking to classmates spurs ideas about new strategies to try – something he didn’t have before coming back to school.

“The most beneficial part about being in business school is just the fact that I’m surrounded by really smart, ambitious, interesting people,” Sean said. “Students, professors, career advisors. Just sharing stories from each other and hearing their take has a huge impact.”

Bio: Rachel Solomon is a second-year MBA student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Prior to business school, she worked in product management at BCG and communications at Delta Air Lines. This summer, she interned at Microsoft on their Cloud Marketing team and plans to focus on product marketing after graduation. Learn more about her via her LinkedIn and blog!

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