She Has a Deal reveals pitch competition finalists

Officials of She Has a Deal (SHaD) have revealed the five finalist teams selected to advance to the final round of its annual hotel investment pitch competition to compete for the prize of $50,000 in hotel deal equity following the conclusion of a virtual, preliminary round of pitching.

The goal of She Has a Deal is to increase the number of women hotel owners and developers, and the organization offers inspiration and education to channel the power of collaboration and mentorship. It creates new pathways to hotel ownership and development by exposing participants to the hard-to-find details needed to successfully source, analyze and close hotel real estate investment deals.

During the preliminary judging round, seven teams of 15 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, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Celeste Companies: Emma Spring from Washington State University
  • Eden Investment Management LLC: Angel Deng and Kayleen Fan from Cornell University
  • Emerald Investments: Lexi Effron, Keslie Easton and Nikki Loseff from San Diego State University
  • PAIZA GROUP LLC: Sana Mahmood from Zigurat Global Institute of Technology
  • PEN Investment: Polina Shavrina, Nadia Cismesia and Emma Toppi from Michigan State University

The teams, who started the SHaD process in December 2020 completed more than 12 hours of intensive hotel investment education to learn how to source, evaluate and raise capital for a real hotel deal.

“I had the privilege of participating on one of the judging panels for this year’s competition, and I have to say the whole experience was really well done—well-organized, user-friendly for the judges, thorough for the candidates,” said Sara Glenn, competition judge/SVP, operations, North & Central America, Accor. “It is an inspiring initiative—desperately needed and truly on point.”

Pitches included ground-up construction, adaptive-reuse and conversions of hotels in markets ranging from Silicon Valley, CA, and Seattle to Miami and Chantilly, VA.

Judge and SHaD alumni Nancy Guzman, director, development, Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), said, “I was impressed by the caliber of the presentations and the confidence these women exude. I’m excited to see these change makers enter the industry and shake things up. The future of hospitality is female.”

“I signed up for She Has a Deal to bridge the gap between where I currently stand in my career and my dream of becoming a developer,” said Sana Mahmood, finalist, who also is pursuing a Masters in Global BIM Management at Zigurat Global Institute of Technology. “I knew that knowledge was the key to this success, but the right education in the development space was hard to find. I got everything I wanted from SHaD plus more. I know there is nothing I can’t accomplish with the fearless SHaD squad on my side.”

SHaD Founder, Tracy Prigmore of TLTsolutions, said about the virtual competition, “I continue to be inspired and impressed by the quality of the pitches. I know how hard these women have worked on their projects, and to watch them put what they learned into action gives me confidence that our industry will see more women-led projects come to fruition in the future.”

She added, “Our founding sponsors, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International, continue to demonstrate a deep commitment to diversifying the ownership of their brands. Their support, and the support of all our sponsors, make it clear that the hotel business is moving in the right direction. After a challenging year, it gives me hope that our industry has come together to become more diverse and inclusive on the investment side of the business, which is the mission of She Has a Deal.”

The final pitch competition will take place at the Innovation Gallery at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner on June 5. The competition will be followed by an awards and networking luncheon where the participants will be celebrated. Marriott President Stephanie Linnartz will be the guest speaker.