Finalists named for hotel pitch competition aimed at women

The ‘She Has a Deal’ competition offers $50,000 in hotel deal equity

Five finalists in the “She Has a Deal” hotel pitch competition have been selected from 14 teams of 28 female participants vying for $50,000 in hotel deal equity. The finals will be held Oct. 24 at the Hilton Innovation Gallery in the Hilton McLean in McLean, Virginia.

FIVE FINALISTS HAVE been announced for the pitch competition for “She Has a Deal,” an organization that promotes hotel ownership for women through education, networking, and mentorship. The will move to the final round in the pursuit of the prize, $50,000 in hotel deal equity.

The finalists were selected from 14 teams of 28 participants who made their pitches in the preliminary round to a panel of judges made up of hotel business executives, entrepreneurs and investors.  The pitches were made via Zoom.

They are:

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 started the “She Has a Deal” process in November 2019 and completed more than 12 hours of hotel investment education on sourcing, evaluating and raising capital for a hotel deal. Pitches included ground-up construction, adaptive reuse, reflags and conversions of hotels in markets including Silicon Valley, Atlanta and Orlando.

“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.”

Tracy Prigmore, founder of real estate investment firm TLTsolutions, began the competition in 2018 after realizing during her own quest to become a hotel owner that most other hoteliers are men.

“It really gave me hope for the future,” Prigmore said about the current contest.  “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 story of “She Has a Deal” is very similar to the Castell Project, founded by Peggy Berg to address the shortage of women in leadership positions in the hotel industry. The Castell Project will soon name the second recipient of its Castell Award that recognizes a woman in the industry who meets specific criteria for advancing the cause of female hotel executives. It also produces the annual Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership report, the latest of which, released in February, found more women are in leadership roles and making presentations at hotel investment conferences.

Vinay Patel, AAHOA treasurer and president of Fairbrook Hotels in Chantilly, Virginia, is on the advisory board for “She Has a Deal.”

The final pitch competition was postponed from April 25 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Hilton Innovation Gallery in the Hilton McLean in McLean, Virginia.