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Hertelier Exclusive: She Has a Deal 2024 Winners of $50,000 in Equity!

Last week She Has a Deal (SHaD) hosted the fifth season of SHaDPitch, a hotel investment pitch competition for women. The event took place at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland where finalists in the Early Careerist and the Today’s Woman, competed for $50,000 in deal equity for each category.

After a competitive challenge and presentation, the winners were: Ebony Jones, Mitajo Capital, who pitched a new construction, 114 key Extended Stay Hyatt Studios in Kansas City, MO to win the Today’s Woman competition; and Camila Trejo & Ryan Harper, RyLa Developments from San Diego State University, pitched a 217 key full service independent hotel conversion to a Hyatt Centric in Miami Gardens, FL, and won the Early Careerist competition.

She has a deal winners 2024

She Has a Deal (SHaD): From Education to Competition

The goal of She Has a Deal is to create new pathways to hotel ownership and development for women through education, networking, and mentorship. The pitch competition and awards are the culmination of a multi-module educational and accelerator program that walks participants through the process of sourcing, evaluating, financing, and pitching a hotel investment deal. It's not just a deal on paper: the pitching teams find, evaluate and propose real hotel deals! This year there were 15 participants in total who fully completed the program. The competition was tight! Shoutout to Early Careerist Runners-up, Red Cedar Commercial Real Estate from Michigan State University Emily Marlowe & Abigail Marry who pitched the acquisition of a WaterWalk by Wyndham in Phoenix, AZ.

Emily Marlowe & Abigail Marry with SHaD founder Tracy Prigmore
Emily Marlowe & Abigail Marry with SHaD founder Tracy Prigmore

“Each year, it is amazing to witness the growth the women achieve from the first SHaD MasterClass to the day they hit the stage at SHaDPitch. What is especially significant about this year’s class is their ability to innovate and take risks with new developments and exciting conversions.” said Tracy Prigmore, founder, She Has a Deal.

Meet the Winners and Learn What it Takes to Do SHaD

Today’s Woman: Ebony Jones,, Mitajo Capital

Winning Project: Extended Stay Hyatt Studios 114 keys. Kansas City, MO

Ebony started her career working in residential mortgage and later working as a credit risk consultant with Moody's Analytics. After spending the last seven years as a residential developer/builder, she wanted her next step to focus on commercial development. “What I did not realize was that I could couple commercial development with hotel ownership,” Ebony shared after a few chance meetings with Tracy Prigmore, she learned about SHaD as a structured program for women interested in accelerating their path to ownership. “I decided to take the leap and seize the opportunity!”

What did you hope to get out of the program? 

I received far more than what I hoped to gain. I conquered a few challenges that have held me back in my success and now I'm ready to see what I'm fully capable of. Ultimately, I wanted the knowledge, tools and relationships needed to properly assess a deal and move forward to a close whenever a deal presented itself. 

Ebony Jones She Has a Deal
Ebony presenting her deal

How did you find your deal / project ?

I spent most of my time surfing broker sites looking for on-market deals. I started underwriting a few deals a week and found some attractive options. The deal I'm working on now was offered to Tracy through one of her longstanding relationships with a few developers. She offered the deal to my entire cohort with the possibility of us working as partners. After review, I was the only one who decided to move forward with the deal and felt it was most suitable for me considering the nature of the project.


Why do you think you won? 

I believe I won because I was coachable, I trusted Tracy and I was fully committed to the process. I engaged in all aspects of the program including the study, networking, application, fun and everything else. I stayed committed down to the last minute and never let any doubt interrupt my success. However, my big goal wasn't to win the pitch, but to win the deal. All of the ladies have the same aspirations, which is awesome, because 5 closings would make all of us winners. 

What were your biggest learnings from being part of SHaD?  

Trust the process. And trust Tracy. It is remarkable what she has been able to create for us.  

What is next for you? 

Close the deal! And make it epic! My journey will include the success of many women along the way. 

Early Careerist: Camila Trejo & Ryan Harper, RyLa Developments, San Diego State University

Winning Project: Full Service Hyatt Centric, 217 keys. Miami Gardens, FL

Avid sports fans Camila Trejo and Ryan Harper wanted to combine their love of sports and hospitality. These seniors from San Diego State University scoured the listings on LoopNet to find something that fit their criteria, and they did!  While not as straightforward as other projects, they were determined and took a risk…it paid off!  Now they have $50,000 in equity to get the hotel off the ground.  Here is their SHaD journey…

Why did you decide to do SHaD?

Ryan: Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to go into hospitality, inspired initially by "Eloise at the Plaza" and later by "Gilmore Girls," which sparked my dream of owning a bed and breakfast. My passion for the industry grew while studying Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University (SDSU). Observing previous SDSU teams compete in She Has a Deal (SHaD.) showcased it as a tremendous learning and growth opportunity. I admired past participants like Lauren, Brylynn, and Allison, who excelled in our program and achieved great results through SHaD. Their experiences motivated me to explore beyond operational aspects and learn more about hotel development, leading me to participate in SHaD.

Camila Trejo & Ryan Harper She Has a Deal 2024 winners
Winners Camila Trejo & Ryan Harper

Camila: I've always had a passion for travel, discovering new countries, cities, and their unique hotels. My interest in hospitality as a career was sparked during my junior year in high school when a representative from Les Roches spoke about their hospitality program at my campus. I was the only student who attended that session, and it opened my eyes to the vast possibilities within the industry, combining my love for travel and caring for others.

My focus shifted to the real estate and development side of hospitality when I learned about SHaD at SDSU. Seeing the success of previous participants like Lauren Graff and Brylynn Smith in SHaD Pitch 2022 inspired me deeply. My desire to follow in their footsteps grew after attending the ALIS conference in Los Angeles with Carl Winston, director of the hospitality program at SDSU. The positive feedback from the SHaD participants from 2023 that Camilla mentioned, convinced me that this was the path I wanted to pursue in the hospitality industry.

How did you find your deal / project ?

Camila: We started our search wanting a deal in a city with a robust tourism industry, as we are both avid sports fans and regularly attend basketball, baseball, and soccer games. We believed that passion for our project was crucial to its success. While browsing LoopNet, I found the Stadium Hotel and immediately felt it was the right choice. As an independent property with limited financial information, we knew it would be a challenging venture. However, we were committed to this deal because it felt right, and we were eager to prove to ourselves and others that we could develop a compelling and successful proposal.

Ryan: Camila discovered the Stadium Hotel listing on LoopNet and shared it with me, knowing our shared interest in linking a deal with the sports and entertainment industries. At first glance, the Stadium Hotel didn't seem appealing due to its incomplete financials and the urgent need for renovations. Nevertheless, we were drawn to this unique challenge. Although we explored other more straightforward deals in Texas using our financial model, they resembled the typical deals we had seen in previous SHaD competitions. We chose to embrace the challenge presented by the Stadium Hotel.

Why do you think you won? 

Ryan: I want to start by saying that every team pitching in the early careerist category was well deserving of this award. Through the entire program, we have grown out of being competitors and forged beautiful friendships and connections that we are fortunate to have within the industry. However, Camila and I from the start have had the goal to win. SDSU has always sent a team to compete in SHaD but no one had yet snagged first place. Because of this, a fire lit beneath us. We were committed to work as hard as we could to finally take home first place. 

Camila: Like Ryan said, every single team in the Early Careerist category was brilliant and deserving of this prize. These past seven months were not easy for anyone as they were filled with countless hours of hard work and dedication. From the start, Ryan and I knew we wanted to win because SDSU had always come in second place. We knew we wanted to bring the big check home, so we pushed ourselves to the limit and were keen on taking first place home. 

What were your biggest learnings from being part of SHaD? 

Ryan: It’s hard to narrow down everything I’ve learned from SHaD! However, what struck me most is how when one is given the right tools, goals become much more achievable. I’ve always dreamt of owning and developing hotels but I was unsure of how to get there. She Has a Deal taught me that I can and should believe in myself 100%. Without having faith in my own abilities I would not have gotten to the finish line! Additionally, my knowledge about the hospitality industry has grown exponentially. As Camila mentions, connections are everything and leveraging your network is crucial for personal and industry success. The confidence I gained through She Has a Deal allows me to continue these connections, understanding now how beneficial they are to one another. 

Camila: I learned so much from SHaD, I can’t even list it all! However, I’d say the biggest things I learned were that there are multiple pathways to hotel ownership and that your connections matter. Obviously, we learned about the entire process of buying and selling a hotel, but I think the most valuable things I learned were more about networking. Hotel ownership and how we are going to get there shouldn’t scare us, we know we are more than capable and there are multiple ways of achieving the same goal. And your connections are imperative to your success. You never know who can help you or who wants to invest in your deal! 

What is next for RyLa? 

Both: Both of us will be graduating this May from San Diego State University majoring in Hospitality & Tourism Management with an emphasis in Hotel Operations. We are eager to continue pursuing our deal, investing our deal equity in it. RyLa was not just a She Has a Deal partnership, we will continue to support each other and strengthen our friendship both in and out of the industry. 

Ryan:  Being so close to graduation used to scare me, but now I am looking forward to what life will be like outside of being in college! I am committed to continuing my education and growth within the industry. I am hopeful about starting my career path, aiming to eventually work in branding and development within the hotel industry. I want to ensure that I play a role in creating lasting memories for all guests.

Camila: I double majored in Economics and am thrilled to be earning both degrees this May. At the start of the school year, I felt stressed, uncertain about how to feel as my final year of college approached, signaling that the real world was just around the corner. As my college career draws to a close, I hope to begin working in an analyst position within the real estate and development sector of the industry. I aim for this role to guide me down the right path toward eventually owning a hotel. I am excited to see what the future holds for both Ryan and me!

she has a deal 2024
SHaD 2024 Cohort

Congrats to Ebony, Camila and Ryan! What an incredible journey you have been on, and it is amazing to hear about what the competition meant to each of you. We hope your hotel deals close!

For more information or to sign up for next year’s SHaD competition, click here.


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