McLEAN, Va.—Officials of “She Has a Deal,” an annual hotel investment pitch competition for early-career women, today announced its five finalists selected to advance to the final round to compete for the prize of $50,000 in hotel deal equity.
During the preliminary judging round, 14 teams totaling 28 participants pitched their hotel investment acquisition or development plans live on Zoom to a judging panel of top-level hotel business executives, entrepreneurs, and investors. The judges evaluated and selected the following five teams:
- CityTerrace Ventures: Nancy Guzman and Marlene Reyes from Cornell University
- Datcher: Joanne Angbazo, Kristen Collins, and Lera Covington from Cornell University
- Fernweh Partners: Meaghan Carfrey, Nikki Gonzales, and Viviana Wilkins from San Diego State University
- Lodgingo: Eng Ea and Regina Yoo from New York University
- Phoenix Capital: Chelsea Lawson from University of Houston and Heaven Douglas from Howard University
The teams, who started the “She Has a Deal” process in November 2019, completed more than 12 hours of intensive hotel investment education to learn how to source, evaluate, and raise capital for a real hotel deal.
“These remarkable young women were so well prepared, I forgot I was judging a competition versus consulting with my tenured hospitality partners,” said Michele M. Gordon, senior director for Amadeus Hospitality, who served as a judge during the preliminary round. “The presentations were thoroughly researched and representative of established thought leaders versus student contestants. In a few years, I know our industry will be reaching out to these trailblazers for advice.”
Pitches included ground-up construction, adaptive reuse, reflags, and conversions of hotels in markets ranging from Silicon Valley to suburban Atlanta to theme park-adjacent Orlando.
“What an amazing group of young women,” said Brian Covington, judge and vice president of revenue optimization at Salamander Hotels & Resorts. “Their work was on par with, if not better, than what I’ve seen through other feasibility assessments. I applaud ‘She Has a Deal’ for providing a platform toward hotel ownership while educating in the process.”
“Since having competed in SHaD, I can say that I am a better version of myself,” said finalist Chelsea Lawson from Phoenix Capital. “I have grown my professional network and gained valuable, transferable skills. If you would have told me when I was a freshman walking on the University of Houston campus that I would one day be competing to become a hotel owner, I would’ve said you were lying. I am profoundly grateful to the SHaD Squad for this opportunity and excited to compete in the finals alongside my partner, Heaven Douglas.”
“It really gave me hope for the future,” said Tracy Prigmore of TLTsolutions and founder of the competition. “These women gave their projects their all, and it was so inspiring to watch them put what they learned over the last five months to work in a real-world pitch. I can’t wait to execute the winning deal.”
The final pitch competition, originally scheduled for April 25, will take place later this year on October 24 at the Hilton Innovation Gallery.