April 14, 2021

Social Driver Celebrates its 10th Year Since Winning the GW New Venture Competition

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Social Driver got its start with a little help from The George Washington University New Venture Competition in 2011. The GW New Venture Competition is the third largest collegiate competition in the country, having awarded $2.8 million in cash prizes to date. 

Social Driver Co-founders Thomas Sanchez and Anthony Shop won first place in the GW New Venture Competition ten years ago. Social Driver quickly established itself as a leader and was named the “7th fastest growing agency in the United States” by The Agency 100, “Supplier of the Year” by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, “DC’s Coolest Company” by DC Inno, the “#1 LGBT-Owned Business” by The Washington Business Journal, and the “#1 Minority-Owned Marketing Agency in the U.S.” by Clutch. In only ten years, Social Driver has earned its place as the trusted partner time and again by delivering game-changing results for many of the world’s leading corporations and nonprofit organizations. Now, things are coming full circle, with Sanchez participating as a finalist judge in this year’s competition.

“Winning The GW New Venture Competition helped us grow Social Driver into the business that it is today. It is so important to offer opportunities like this to young entrepreneurs, giving them the chance to bring their ideas to life. I am honored to be participating in this year’s competition and to hear from future business leaders about their inspirational ventures,” Sanchez said. 

Shop and Sanchez are grateful to have benefited from the support and mentorship they received as competitors and winners, especially from entrepreneur Michael Grove and professor Lynda Maddox. And they have been paying it forward to students ever since. 

"I am so impressed by the willingness of GW Alumni like Thomas and Anthony to engage with our aspiring student entrepreneurs, to give them the benefit of their experience and to help them up the learning curve,” said Lex McCusker, director of student entrepreneurship programs at The George Washington University. “For the last decade, they have provided hugely valuable support, guidance and sponsorship to help create the next generation of innovators.” 

Max Friedman, the CEO and co-founder of Givebutter, a modern fundraising platform, said "Thomas and Anthony's mentorship was simply invaluable in my earliest stages as an aspiring entrepreneur. I remember visiting their office for the first time and being so impressed by what they had built, and knowing that they had started in my shoes as a GW student and were in my corner made it all the more special." 

Jim Chung, associate vice president for research for the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The George Washington University, helped to organize his first GW New Venture Competition the year that Anthony and Thomas won. “I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished with Social Driver, turning it into one of the fastest growing and most innovative digital agencies in the country. Nothing makes me happier than to see students combine their ideas and passions with what they’ve learned at GW into something truly impactful in the world,” said Chung.

Watch the 2021 GW New Venture Competition Award Show to see the winners of $500k in prizes announced.