THREE TEAMS HAVE been named winners in the She Has A Deal competition that provides pathways to hotel ownership and development for women. Each team received cash prizes based on pitches they made to a judging panel of hotel business executives, entrepreneurs and investors.
Chosen via a virtual pitch competition between five teams, the three winners were awarded a $50,000 grand prize in deal equity through SHaD Prosperity Fund I, a $5,000 second place award and a Viewer’s Choice Award.
Celeste Companies, led by individual pitcher Emma Claire Spring, won the grand prize. She pitched a Delta Hotel conversion in Chantilly, Virginia, in which the existing property would be renovated to add meeting space and dining area. As part of her pitch, Spring, graduate of Washington State University, went through the process of negotiating key money and identifying a management company with whom she would work.
“I have dreamed of becoming a hotel owner since I was a little girl, and I’m proud to say that dream will now become a reality,” she said. “I am so incredibly grateful for everything I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the confidence I’ve gained from this experience. This is just the beginning of my hotel ownership experience.”
Eden Investment Management, made up of Angel Deng and Kayleen Fan, won second prize and PEN Investments, comprised of Nadia Cismesia, Polina Shavrina and Emma Toppi from Michigan State University, won the Viewers’ Choice award. Over the last year, participants completed more than 12 hours of hotel investment education on how to source, evaluate and raise capital for a real hotel deal.
“I’m so proud of Emma Claire. All of the pitches were extraordinary, and she really put in the work to stand out. For a solo pitcher to win just shows that, if you want something badly enough and are willing to work for it, big things can happen,” said Tracy Prigmore, founder of She Has a Deal. “After holding a scaled-back version of the pitch competition last year due to the pandemic, it was thrilling to be able to execute everything we envisioned.”
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. 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. In April, the two organizations announced the creation of Fortuna’s Table, a website meant to connect prospective hotel owners to the knowledge, guidance and networking they need to achieve their goal.
Modeled after business incubators will use public relations and social media to open access to new markets for potential hotel owners, according to the Castell Project. Experts and sponsors will share their knowledge on the project’s website, which is in the works and also will provide round tables and virtual meetings with peers and experts.
Vinay Patel, AAHOA vice chairman and president of Fairbrook Hotels in Chantilly, Virginia, is on the advisory board for “She Has a Deal.”
Applications for the 2022 pitch competition will be accepted starting June 24 and will stop on Sept. 15.