Feature Friday! E. Ozie Studios

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 11 student startups participating in our Terp Startup Accelerator summer program. Participating student entrepreneurs will receive a stipend of up to $5,000 that will enable them to work exclusively on their startups over the next eight weeks.

Founder: Ijeoma Asonye ’24, mechanical engineering major, creative writing minor

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?

Asonye: E. Ozie Studios is a multimedia creative house currently engaging young adults
and the young-at-heart with the beauty of STEM and Art. Our powerhouse is based on
the core values of our novel The Beautiful Math of Coral: produce impactful stories that
focus on the wonders of the universe about us. We are creating revolutionary
conversations in both traditional and innovative ways including books, poetry, films,
board games, and more.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?

Asonye: I’ve always loved books so the idea of writing a book came across my mind and I
just jumped on the opportunity. My venture started off with my book “The Beautiful Math
of Coral” after watching a TED talk of the same name. I would call my book a coming-of-
age story that creates metaphors with concepts in STEM, mixed with lots of love and
other intangible things. I think it’s a very swoon-worthy book. Now I want to expand the
creative house as what we are doing feels niche and I know there are people that would
be interested in supporting our creative works.

DC: Who or what is your biggest influence for your startup?
Asonye: I was inspired to create my own creative house by learning about Einhorn’s Epic
Productions which is an entertainment creative house. I think they are doing some really
cool stuff for underserved gen-z fandoms which is an industry E. Ozie Stiudios is also
tapping into with our work. One of the co-founders of the company purchased my book
and that is how I learned more about them. On the film side of things, I am inspired by
A24 and some of the thought-provoking, niche, and creative films they have put out.
A24 is my dream collaborator so if an executive from A24 is reading this, let’s connect!

Ijeoma sells her books at the Black Creatives Matter Event 2022!

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
Asonye: To create innovation (and disruption) in the entertainment industry. There is a
growing need to produce films and other media that show women and people of color in
STEM. This has primarily been a target for younger individuals like elementary and
middle schoolers. I think there is a mass market though, of connecting with high
schoolers and older that has been untapped. I also wanted to show a new perspective
on creating symbolic content that relates STEM and art to the human experience.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last few months?
Asonye: We received grants from the Clarice Performing Arts Center and the Arts for All
Initiative. We finished production on our short film that is based on the novel “The
Beautiful Math of Coral”. But as a creative who has a personal standard and is always
finding ways to make things better, there are some scenes I would like to add so we are
in a semi-post-production phase. We also sold some books at in-person events during
the spring which allowed us to build our subscribers to our newsletter.

DC: When it comes to your startup, how do you define success?
Asonye: Wow such an important question I have never asked myself. I define success as
continued support from supporters. I think the way my business has been able to grow
is through word-of-mouth. I want to leverage word-of-mouth this year through social
media which is an avenue I have struggled to explore. I know my business is
succeeding and gaining traction through the growth of new customers and having a
reputable amount of passionate customers who will advocate for my brand. I think in the
future when my business is able to establish itself in other markets, success will be the
ability to score collaborations and partnerships.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?

Asonye: I want to achieve launching a Kickstarter campaign for our board game, begin the
manufacturing phase for the board game, partner with stores to sell our book and
merchandise, and find ways to promote our short film as it’s in the post-production phase
and open our e-commerce store. I also want to use Terp Startup Accelerator as a way
to connect with other entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry to gain advice and
grow my network.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Asonye: It feels like a reminder more than advice: There will be several nos before a yes.
The moment before your yes could be when you decide to reinvent yourself. Don’t give
up even if you have to give yourself a break. Give yourself time to chill if you feel burnt
out from the nos but don’t give up on your story and passion.

To learn more about E. Ozie Studios, please visit the website here.

Feature Friday! Around the Block

Co-founders of Around the Block, Gabrielle McLaughlin ’23 (left) and Joelle Anselmo ’23 (right) pitching during the Pitch Dingman Competition 2023 Finals.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
McLaughlin: My name is Gabi McLaughlin and I am a senior finance and management major. Joelle Anselmo my co-founder is a senior journalism and business management major. 

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
McLaughlin: We have been involved with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s Pitch Dingman Competition 2023. We have also come in for Dingman Advising. 

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
McLaughlin: Around the Block is a college apparel company that sells unique and sustainable clothing. These products provide a snapshot of College towns which invoke nostalgia and represent college from the students perspective. 

DC: Who or what is your biggest influence for your startup?
McLaughlin: It is hard to pick just one! So many people have helped and inspired us along the way. Joelle and I have a professor named Steve Freishtat and I would say that so far he has left a very lasting influence on the business and us as entrepreneurs and people! 

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
McLaughlin: We originally had the idea for the map and instantly thought it would be fun to put the maps on tshirts. This is how we got into the apparel business. We would love to continue expanding into other merchandise. 

Around the Block taking home the Main Street Track’s Grand Prize of $20,000 at the PDC 2023.

DC: Now that you’ve won the Pitch Dingman Competition ‘23, what’s next for your company?
McLaughlin: We plan on expanding our company and ramping up production. In the past we did not have the resources to put in big orders and we’re falling short of demand. With the Pitch Dingman prize we can reach out potential at UMD and begin looking at product expansion and expansion to other Universities. We are also able to make lots of improvements on our marketing and online presence.  

DC: As a student business owner, how do you define success?
McLaughlin: I am not sure if I have one solid definition yet for success. It changes every year for me right now as I’m going through different phases of life and school. I will be proud if ATB makes a lasting impact on campus communities and helps foster a more sustainable and philanthropic retail industry. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
McLaughlin: My first advice would be to just go for it! If you are ever hesitating about starting something try to start small and test it out and you may be surprised with what you find. I would also advise people to find mentors and surround themselves with a great support system to help them along the way. 

To learn more about Around the Block, please visit the website here.

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The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Names Three 2022-23 Terp Startup Fellows

The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship is proud to announce its fourth cohort of the Terp Startup Fellows program, made possible by a generous donation from Dingman Center board member Bill Boyle ’81. This program was created due to the success of Terp Startup Accelerator, the center’s eight-week summer program which has been running for eight years. Terp Startup Fellows aims to further advance the most promising student startups and selects student founders from the accelerator program that have demonstrated a strong commitment to their ventures and the ability to innovate as they push towards commercialization. The Dingman Center has named three Terp Startup Fellows ventures for the 2022-23 academic year: Arch Dash, Juju Food Delivery, and Platybase.

The founders of these three ventures will receive up to $20,000 in non-dilutive funding, coaching, and co-working space to work on their businesses for 10 hours a week with the Dingman Center. These founders have all been heavily involved with the Dingman Center’s programs and have all participated in Terp Startup Accelerator. The founders have also won several awards and accolades outside of the university through the entrepreneurial community.

Throughout the next year, the Dingman Center team including Holly DeArmond, MBA ’17, Tsega Tadesse Belachew, Lottie Byram, MPH, and Alex Onufrak ’21, will work directly with the selected fellows and their ventures.

“During the last few years, the Terp Startup Fellows program has provided individualized support and funding for our most advanced founders,” said Belachew, director of venture development at the Dingman Center. “The fellowship has enabled founders to grow their ventures by capitalizing on initial business traction and securing additional funding. We are excited about a strong and diverse cohort of founders this year leading technology ventures that are working to solve problems across industries: mental health, food delivery, and architecture.”

Student ventures selected to participate in the 2022-23 Terp Startup Fellows

Arch Dash, founded by Ina Kovacheva ’23, enables architects to make data-driven decisions that will result in healthier, efficient, and more sustainable building designs. Kovacheva participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2022, where she won the Go-to-Market Award ($1,000) at Demo Day and received the second place Audience Choice award. Kovacheva also recently completed the regional I-CORPS program.

JuJu Food Delivery, founded by Weixiang Wang ’22, Ziqi Zhang ’22, Zijian Zhang ’22, and Zeyang Liu ’22, offers an affordable bulk delivery and order pickup service for customers and restaurants that are facing higher-than-ever food delivery expenses. The JuJu Food Delivery team participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2022, where they received the Path to Product-Market Fit Award ($1,000) at Demo Day. They were also recently awarded second place at Contrary Capital Pitch Competition. Juju Food Delivery currently has 600 users and has generated $10,000 in revenue over two months.

Platybase, founded by Mika Panday, ’21, Colleen Baldwin and Olivia Bruno, is a HIPAA-compliant visual diary that celebrates milestones between families and providers of autism care centers while increasing behavioral outcomes, creating community, and allowing center operations to emerge competitively from a historically analog industry. Platybase is a company founded exclusively by disabled women, for the disability community. The company, formerly known as Dorothy’s Place, participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2021. The team also won the 2Gether International women’s pitch competition last spring and received a $10,000 prize.

Source: https://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/news/dingman-center-entrepreneurship-names-three-2022-23-terp-startup-fellows

Terp Startup Fellows Travel Awards

One of the benefits of being selected as a Terp Startup Fellow is the ability to access funds for the purpose of travel, whether it be for commuting to a conference or a client meeting.


Student(s): Ina Kovacheva

Prize: $923.98

Award Purpose

  • New Haven Pitch Travel Expenses (Airfare/buses/lodging) ($208.98)
  • Baltimore Accelerator Gas/Mileage Expense ($715.00)
  • Total 923.98

Feature Friday! Room 242

Founder of Room 242, Kang Ewimbi ’24

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Ewimbi: My name is Kang Ewimbi, Entertainment Industry major, Arts Leadership minor, ’24.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Ewimbi: 2022 Startup Accelerator and the 2023 Pitch Dingman Competition Finals.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Ewimbi: Room 242 is an incubator for college artists that provides a pathway to the career young musicians want, and the communal support every young musician needs. We offer our residential artist development communities, modern label services, and events curated for the underground community. 

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
Ewimbi: I decided to start a business in the entertainment industry because I know from firsthand experience how difficult it is to begin your musical journey, and I wanted to address those difficulties for the artists I’m constantly surrounded by. 

2022 Spotify Wrapped impressions of 242, a music group singed to label Room 242.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company since your time in Terp Startup Accelerator?
Ewimbi: We’ve made it through to the 2023 Pitch Dingman Competition, earned over $7,000 in the last 6 months, surpassed a total 1 million streams on our releases, made plans to launch our first living space this fall, and booked more shows in the DMV area. 

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Ewimbi: The most important thing we’re working on (besides our pitch!) is getting our housing option ready to launch this fall. From building the recording studio to setting up the house venue, we want to make sure our first space is the embodiment of a creative community. 

DC: As a student business owner, how do you define success?
Ewimbi: I define success as the freedom to do what you want when you want to do it. The closer one gets to that point, the more successful they truly are. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Ewimbi: My biggest piece of advice would be to start the business that you wished existed. Help the next generation by creating tools, resources, products, and services you wish were there for you.

To learn more about Room 242, please visit the website here.



Nails by the Kg

I plan on starting a business that will make custom press-on nails at an affordable price to help people look their best on a budget.

Student(s): Kaodi (Kaodinyeluchukwu) Gerry-Ofor
Prize: $810

Award Purpose

  • $350 for nail forms, nail design elements, shipping and packaging supplies
  • $460 for e-commerce platform and POS system for in-person sales.”

Learn Prompting (Prompt Labs)

A Free, Open Source Course on Communicating with Artificial Intelligence
Student(s): Sander Schulhoff
Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

  • $300 to start LLC
  • $200 for designers
  • $300 for web developers
  • $200 for site content contributors”

Lingo AI

Student(s): Pranav Shikarpur
Prize: $1000

Award Purpose
$200 – Running GPUs servers in the cloud for a few months
$100 – Get access to youtube analytics for the first month
$400 – hiring translators on Upwork to verify our AI-generated translated videos for our creators
$300 – Running a large ad campaign targeted towards creators after we have 3 creators on-onboarded (PS – We have already onboarded one creator and have 2 in the pipeline)”

Cursive Technology

Cursive Technology, Inc. utilizes machine learning and other technologies to identify unique writers in a secure online text box to protect academic integrity from the risk of copy/pasting from generative artificial intelligence programs (such as ChatGPT) or contract cheating threats. Our goal is to provide faculty and teachers with better tools for assessing student writing in the classroom, providing institutions a better solution for ensuring Academic Integrity.

Student(s): Joe (Joseph) Thibault
Prize: $1000

Award Purpose
Travel to pitch competition ($1000)

Korion Health

We are designing tools that empower patients to conduct their own health screenings. Our first tool, the Sound Heart System, provides an affordable stethoscope and user interface to guide patients through heart screenings.

Student(s): Akshaya Anand

Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

  • $270 Google Workspace Business Starter Plan for 5 team members for 9 months ($6/user/month)
  • $130 to support form submissions on website (via webflow basic site plan ($14/month))
  • $100 for Google Colab Pro to support development of algorithms (training machine learning models, computer vision tasks using GPU and storing large datasets)
  • $500 for surveying or focus group testing ($5/person compensation for 100 surveys to learn more about the market size and target customer demographics OR $15/person compensation for 30-person focus group to give user experience feedback about product)

Room 242

Room 242 is an independent artist services company designed for the college musician. From living space and record label services to intuitive artist data and events, we provide not only a pathway to the career every new artist wants but the creative community every artist needs.

Student(s): Kang Ewimbi

Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

  • $700 for venue setup (microphones, cables, subwoofers, cleaning supplies, and lights)
  • $300 for marketing (ads for upcoming songs, social media page promo, and shooting short-form content)


As a low income, mixed race black male in a low-income community, I was keenly aware of how the health literacy crisis affected my inner city community, especially with regards to pulmonary issues. As a result, I created inhale.AI, a mobile app that will provide accessible troubleshooting and instructions to people using an inhaler. Studies have shown that only 31 percent of individuals who have asthma or COPD use an inhaler correctly. Further, inhaler errors are found to be strongly associated with exacerbated pulmonary issues, furthering the health-economic gap. Individuals who disproportionately fall under this category include folks from Black, Native American and Latinx communities. Studies show that inhaler technique interventions significantly reduced inhaler errors and had very positive effects on disease and patient outcome.

Student(s): Saad Pirzada

Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

  • $300 Animate vector images within the app
  • $180 Professional demonstration video of inhaler usage within the app
  • $80 Language voiceover for each step in English and Spanish
  • $250 intricate side animations for each step to guide user
  • $190 Website hosting and UX design for WordPress


Student(s): Kenneth Yeaher

Prize: $1500

Award Purpose

Research and Development – ($775) +Second round of customer discovery, will be proving preliminary questionnaire and interviewing healthcare workers, and admin in medical facilities in Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal. ~10 USD compliantly reward for participants in interviews. 5 in Liberia, 15 in Nigeria, 10 in Ghana, 10 in Cote d’Ivoire, and 10 in Senegal. – $525 ~Google Workplace for cofounders – $150 +Website dev/hosting cost – $100 Business Development – ($725) +Legal services for risk management and registration (Liberia and Maryland) – $200 + Maryland corp registration – $125 +Havard Africa Health Conference ~ Tickets – $200 ~ Roundtrip Tickets – $200

SOAL Sound

Student(s): Giles Oji

Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

  • Song production: $500
    • Studio sessions
    • Mixing and Mastering
  • Content Creation: $300
    • Videos
    • Photoshoots
  • Office expenses (website domains/subscriptions, landing pages, etc.): $100/month for 2 months ($200 Total)


Kaalmi is creating a comprehensive resource center for mental health and self-care needs, with an initial focus on our five-senses box that aids in grounding individuals experiencing anxiety and panic attacks.

Student(s): Matt (Matthew) Foulk

Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

  • $360: One-year subscription to Quickbooks
  • $348: One-year subscription to Shopify
  • $292: Shipping materials

Cured Leaves Tea Co

Student(s): Lawrence Shaw

Prize: $1000

Award Purpose

Trademarking their logo ($1,000)


Student(s): James Dawson

Prize: $799.58

Award Purpose

  • 2 Plane tickets for trip to Fort Worth to compete in TCU’s Values and Ventures.

Feature Friday! Rent My Closet

Rent My Closet is a digital platform that aims to challenge fast fashion by creating a network of students on campus who can rent one another’s clothing and accessories—regardless of the occasion.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Khana: My name is Ariyan Khana. I am an Information Systems at the Smith School of Business and I will be graduating in May of 2023

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Khana: The Dingman Advising Center has been a great resource to us and provided a lot of valuable feedback on what the direction of our company should be. Rent My Closet is participating in the Pitch Dingman Competition 2023 Semifinals.

Ariyan Khana ’23, founder of Rent My Closet

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Khana: Rent My Closet is focused on creating a peer-to-peer network for students on campus where items can be rented out for various occasions at an affordable price. The purpose of our venture is to tackle fast-fashion head on, provide students with an opportunity to earn extra income, and create a sense of community for students on campus through our network.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Khana: My parents are my biggest influence for my startup. They showed me that you must be resilient as an entrepreneur and always push through even when it may seem difficult to do so. They have pushed through to give me the best opportunities possible and I plan to do the exact same.

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
Khana: I decided to start a business in this industry so that we can limit fast fashion, but still increase clothing options for students on and off campus. Instead of purchasing brand new clothes at a premium, you can rent clothes for a fraction of the price. I also wanted to give back to students which is why students can also earn money by renting out their clothes on Rent My Closet.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Khana: The most important thing we are working on right now is developing an app where customers can order right through their phones! The app is currently underway, but should be ready by this fall!

DC: As a student business owner, what motivates you?
Khana: As a student business owner, what motivates me is the freedom to be your own boss. With your own startup, you have the ability to be creative and think outside the box. Even though a startup is a lot of responsibility, it can be really amazing to see how much progress you have made with your company.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Khana: My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to find opportunities whenever you can. Nothing in life will be handed to you on a silver plate. You need to be able to make the most of each opportunity. Reach out to founders of start-ups, see what mistakes they made when they first began, and learn from them! You will have your own obstacles, but it can never hurt to learn from others!

To learn more about Rent My Closet, please visit the website here.



Pitch Dingman Competition 2023 received over 100 student applications and 65 venture applications, all vying for a piece of over $100,000 in prizes. Our panel of judges was able to narrow down our wide range of applicants to reveal the top 5 teams that will be advancing in the Main Street Track, Quattrone Venture Track, and Idea Track for the 2023 competition. The founders of these teams will each receive a $500 prize, participate in workshops, and meet with advisors in the coming weeks to help them further accelerate their businesses and make them more competitive for the upcoming Round 3 of the competition. On Friday, March 31 our 15 remaining teams will pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges in Van Munching Hall. We’re excited to see who wins the opportunity to pitch on the big stage at our finals event on April 18 at Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, for a shot at our grand prize of $30,000!

Read on to learn more about the ventures that will be advancing in our competition:

TOP 5 Main Street Track Semifinalists:

Around the BlockGabrielle McLaughlin ’23, Joelle Anselmo ’23
Around the Block is an apparel company that invokes nostalgia and camaraderie in the university community through our one-of-a-kind designs. The company prioritizes sustainable processes and philanthropic initiatives in everything we do.

NotUrAverage CandlesCourtney Johnson ’23
We are NotUrAverage Candles (pronounced “Not Your Average” Candles), a coconut wax candle company that illuminates the world to science through fragrance.

Rent My Closet – Ariyan Khana ’23, Arvyn Garchitorena ’23, Jamil Mailk ’23
Rent My Closet is focused on creating a peer-to-peer network for students on campus where items can be rented out for various occasions at an affordable price. The purpose of our venture is to tackle fast-fashion head on, provide students with an opportunity to earn extra income, and create a sense of community for students on campus through our network.

Room 242Kang Ewimbi ’24
Room 242 is an independent artist services company designed for college musicians. From living space and record label services to intuitive artist data and events, we provide not only a pathway to the career every new artist wants but the creative community every artist needs.

UMD Thrift(Ethan) An Pham ’24
UMD Thrift is a student-run premium second-hand clothing business. We aim to bring a sustainable alternative to fast fashion to students at the University of Maryland.

TOP 5 Quattrone Venture Track Semifinalists:

Lingo AI Pranav Shikarpur ’23, Ian Costello ’22
Lingo AI is an AI-powered multilingual content tool designed to help content creators launch language-specific channels with no extra work/cost to the creator. This helps content creators reach untapped global audiences on platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Tiktok.

SkinSwap Andrew Pomeroy ’24
SkinSwap allows gamers to trade, sell, and buy virtual game items (“skins”) for the games Counter-Strike: Global Offense (CS:GO) and Rust. SkinSwap enables users to do so easily using a complex pricing algorithm to evaluate the prices of user “skins” and an intuitive interface with 24/7 live support.

Sustainabli Kevin Tu ’23, Telon Yan ’23, Oliver D’Esposito ’26
Sustainabli provides avenues for research institutions to reach sustainability goals by making labs greener.

Victuals Life Sciences Pvt Ltd – Sourabh Mane ’23, Vrushali Deshpande
We ensure mother & child nutrition during and after pregnancy using user-centered tracking, training & management interventions. We aim to ensure that the right nutrition reaches the right stakeholder at the right time in the right quality & with the right nutritional potency.

WISE CitiesMarie Brodsky ’24, Katherine-Aria Close ’23, Victoria Chai ’25, Sonia Warrior
WISE Cities is a women-run startup creating accessible technology for seniors experiencing social isolation to connect with their communities. Our platform allows seniors to easily discover local groups and resources and gives community centers, city departments, and businesses the opportunity to share their services with this typically hard-to-reach audience.

TOP 5 Idea Track Finalists:

Kaalmi Matthew Foulk ’23, Paige Alban ’24
Creates a tangible solution to help those struggling with anxiety and panic disorder by helping them reconnect with their five senses.

Spray – Connor Hartzog ’23, Mari Ortega ’24, Jason Fotso-Puepi ’23, Ajitesh Kaladi ’25
Spray is an augmented reality (AR) street art application that allows people, such as artists and creatives, to compose murals on real-world physical surfaces. Spray will provide users the tools to beautify their world through immersive art.

Stylversity – Seun Sule ’23, Ezi Nwodim ’23
Stylversity is an app that serves to bridge the gap for college students seeking beauty services on campus in order to optimize their college experience while building connections and community. 

Tessen – Celine Liptrot ’24, Kilian Liptrot ’23
Tessen designs and produces protective covers for large, high-quality lenses in the photography, scope, drone payload, and optical sight markets. Using a new, innovative, and patent-pending iris design, Tessen’s “Lens Blade” product allows anyone to use their large-high-quality glass optics in the field without having to ever remove their lens caps from their device.

Travsy – Joyce Tijani ’22, Dami Adigun ’23
Travsy is a platform that connects travel agents and travelers to book full vacation packages including accommodation, flights, activities, and transportation. We help busy and technologically challenged customers with disposable incomes travel by removing the pain points of the process such as the hard-to-navigate booking of activities and transportation.

The following quarterfinalist ventures will not be advancing in the competition, but we would like to honor the great business ideas and future potential these students have shown:

TOP 12 Main Street Track Quarterfinalists:

Exercise NetworkCandace Austin ’23
Physical activity among kids is declining. Exercise Network seeks to combat this problem by designing fitness and aquatics programs that encourage kids to live life healthier.

Herbin’s FashionHerbert Obeng ’24, Philip Nyameasem
We sell customized clothes and accessories made in Africa. The goal is to promote the heritage and style of African culture.

Lucid ProductionsGriffin Shirodkar ’23, Jason Goldman ’23, Mervyn Akumbu
We are an event planning venture that serves clubs on campus, local music groups, and UMD College students at large.

Old Town, New ClothesBrian Spinner ’23
Old Town, New Clothes is a fully sustainable clothing brand aimed to capitalize on the rise in popularity of second-hand clothing while combating the rise in popularity of fast fashion.

S&A ToysWorld – Abdurahman Muhammad ’22
S&A ToysWorld buys hobby-grade remote-controlled toys from the manufacturer and disassembles them into parts and then separates the parts into groups and sells them on an e-commerce site. Its target audience is the RC hobbyist community in different locations around the globe.

Topflight Wellness – Timothy Hunter ’23
Topflight is wellness coaching and physical training to assist others in making long-term lifestyle changes promoting health and fitness for people of all ages who want to get better but need help. Beyond Topflight’s physical training and nutrition services, a significant aspect is creating and enhancing a person’s self-concept by revealing their strengths, talent, and hangups and figuring out how to overcome them.

Slut for yarnAnna Boyd ’24
My venture aims to create more size inclusivity in the crochet community and to empower people to wear what they want and be confident in that. I also am changing the connotation of the word slut and taking the power from people who use this word as an insult by using it to show confidence and power.

TOP 12 Quattrone Venture Track Quarterfinalists:

FRICK – Fady Yanni ’23, Dhruv Srinivasan ’25
FRICK is dedicated to serving drivers, who often face the challenges of expired parking tickets, towed vehicles, window-smash-ins, and confusing in-street parking regulations. Our solution offers a Smart Dashcam that not only records driving footage but also prevents expired parking tickets, notifies you if you’ve been towed, glass-breakage alerts, and information on on-street parking restrictions.

Frontground Kenneth Yeaher Jr. ’24, Kenneth Yeaher Sr.
For medical facilities in Africa still using manual paper systems, Frontground provides secure software solutions that will effectively organize, manage, and analyze medical records. Unlike Epic Systems and other US vendors, Frontground provides tailored and personalized solutions that fit the needs of facilities in developing nations and emerging markets.

Kestrel Kamal Narra ’25, Bobby George ’26
Kestrel builds alternative credit scores for the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers.

Pet PassportDorian Stephens ’23, Dorian Stephens ’23, Alex Sonnie ’22, Shahriar Jahanbani ’22, Ogugua Obii-Obioha ’23, Musangu Bukasa ’23
Pet Passport is an online platform that allows vets, kennels, and pet owners to instantly transfer pet health records, track behavioral analytics, and essential onboarding information.
Our online network allows pet owners to track their pet’s vaccination status, virtually request veterinarian-certified health records, and instantly transfer health records to a kenneling facility when booking a stay.

UCleaner Robert Choe ’23, Blake Kuzemchak ’23
The UCleaner device is the first all-in-one auto-flosser that caters specifically to adult dental implant and prosthetics patients. This comprehensive full-mouth oral hygiene device utilizes fluid mechanics to clean around your braces in less than 30 seconds.

Visionergy, LLC – Terry Goolsby ’25, Rachel Berley ’23, Medha Tumkur ’23, Emmanuel George ’24, David Bigio
Visionergy, LLC is a woman-owned, UMD student-owned business exploiting 64% of waste in the energy system. It provides energy consulting and energy educational services for small businesses.

ARCH DASHIna Kovacheva ’25, Brian Godsey
We enable architects to make data-driven decisions that will result in healthier, more efficient, and sustainable buildings.

TOP 12 Idea Track Quarterfinalists:

CloShare – Vina Chen ’25, Arieh Geller 25, Emily F. De Oliveira ’25
Our venture was created as an aid to assist individuals with their personal fashion concerns. Aimed at teenagers and young adults, our proposal can actually be used by anyone. A free-to-download app on the App Store, CloShare. We aim to create a virtual closet app that allows users to view their entire closet at a glance and create outfits easily. Additionally, a shareability feature allows them to share their entire closet with close friends to trade pieces and get input on their outfits.

Pills – Neelesh Mupparapu ’22, Neha Mupparapu ’25
Our venture aims to help patients organize as well as keep track of their prescription medications and enables improved compliance/adherence through the use of both an app as well as a “smart”-pill-bottle. We seek to provide adults in the US, and globally, with a new and more cost-effective way to manage their prescriptions by integrating with the FDA drug databases as well as health-record platforms such as MyChart.

Poolers – Ningxi Yan ’24
This venture is based on a carpool app, that let people able to carpool together. Specifically targeting young people (college level) to carpool together, distance range from grocery runs (right off-campus) to long-distance trips (end of semester out-of-state moving), and also event-based transporting (cooperating with event hosters). We aim to create a green, environmentally friendly transportation solution for everybody that wants to participate.

SeptSeven – Khali Williams ’22, Myia Elum ’23, Khali Williams ’22
SeptSeven is a multimedia collective that will optimize emerging vocal artists’ efforts to monetize original works, sustain ownership, and engage their community by providing record label services without signing long-term record contracts. Our services proposed to benefit artists most include audio production tools, marketing and promotion, event booking, and merchandising.

Serenitea – Keva Singhal ’24, Anna Phung ’23, Bryan Zhang ’24
Serenitea presents an integrated approach to creating an environment that combines somatic movement with traditional tea. Our hope is to engage customers in a yogic lifestyle by participating in not only somatic movement, but also taking into account health, wellness, and way of life.

Yong Kang Tea – Alexa Yang ’25, Emily Hai ’25
YK Tea is a B2C(DTC) e-commerce venture that sells a curated selection of premium loose-leaf Chinese tea. We aim to take advantage of the growing market for tea consumption to become the leading premium Chinese tea brand in the US.

Journy – Mildred Diggs ’24
Many minorities and immigrants from non-European backgrounds have difficulty finding a wellness program that works, especially a nutritional plan, because most do not include the food they eat daily. Hence, I am starting Journy, a culturally inclusive wellness app that provides content, coaching, community, and tools to help individuals eat healthily and reduce stress.

Remembering Our Founder, Rudy Lamone

Rudy Lamone delivering a speech at the 2018 Rudy Awards.

Rudolph (Rudy) P. Lamone, the founder of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, sadly passed away on Jan. 30, 2023. As previous dean of the Smith School (1973 to 1992), a co-founder of the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, and a founding member of the National Consortium for Life Science Entrepreneurship Programs, “Rudy” was a name not only known and beloved by the University of Maryland community but nationwide. 

“His vision for what The Dingman Center could be shaped a resource that proved to be instrumental in my growth as well as my peers. His passion for entrepreneurship and empowering students who wanted to take that jump was very real. He was admired as a trailblazer, and someone with whom the students and staff looked upon with great admiration. Through his championing efforts, we provided multiple generations of Terps with a chance – a chance many of us would otherwise not have. His presence at Dingman events will absolutely be missed, but as a community we will celebrate his memory through our continued efforts to build a better future through entrepreneurship,” said Dingman Center Young Alumni Founders Council member, Jordan “Jay” Greenwald.

Rudy was an extraordinarily giving individual. Within the Dingman Center, he launched the Dingman Center Angels, a Maryland-based angel investment group that provides funding to early-stage companies. Additionally, The Rudy Awards, named after Rudy, were even created to honor members of our community who embody his entrepreneurial and generous spirit. 

Rudy (left) and Holly (right), awarding Alex Onufrak a check during the 2019 Rudy Awards.

This spirit will continue to live on in all of the people Rudy mentored. He cared deeply about the success of his students and even referred to them as “his kids”.

“Rudy was an incredible role model who never stopped working to impact student lives through entrepreneurship, and worked tirelessly to support the Dingman Center and the Smith School,” says Brent Goldfarb, Dean’s Professor of Entrepreneurship and Academic Director of the Dingman Center. “Rudy was effective because he celebrated everybody’s talents. He was such a great human being. Any interaction with Rudy was a privilege. I hope his inspiration will live on in all of us.”

As a pioneer within the filed, Rudy was a role model for many students, but also had some of the strongest impacts on those who worked alongside him. 

“Throughout my years at the Dingman Center, Rudy was always available to listen, encourage and offer relevant advice,” said Holly DeArmond, former Managing Director of the Dingman Center. “I loved hearing him say ‘hey kid’ every time he arrived in my office, or I called him on the phone. Rudy made me and countless others feel appreciated, supported, and qualified.” 

Rudy was an innovative businessman with a gift for seeing the potential in all entrepreneurs regardless of their age or background. Even outside of accomplishments within the industry, Rudy was known for his genuine and kind demeanor. He was a man who loved getting to know people and always made everyone in the room feel heard and appreciated. Many who interacted with Rudy personally, truly understand his love for sharing a good meal and connecting with others. 

Rudy and Elana at the 2019 Rudy Awards.

“Rudy’s rite of passage was taking new team members to Sergio’s, an Italian restaurant in Silver Spring, that unfortunately recently closed. He’d been going there for years, and true to his personality, had made deep connections with the maitre dee and the staff,” said Elana Fine, former Executive Director of the Dingman Center. “Walking in with Rudy you felt like royalty. That’s what made Rudy so remarkable – the number of deep connections he had with so many people – students, faculty, peers, family, donors, alum, etc. Rudy made a lifelong commitment to the people in his orbit. I can’t think of anyone so selfless, caring and dedicated as Rudy Lamone.”

DeArmond agreed, “for some reason, all my best memories of Rudy involve food. During my first few months at the Dingman Center, Rudy treated me and a co-worker to a long lunch at Sergios, his favorite Italian restaurant near campus. Many who know Rudy have probably been treated to a meal there. He was a frequent visitor. But it was the first time I got to have a real conversation with him. We bonded over music. My husband is a full-time musician and I love music in all forms. Rudy was a sax player back in the day and loved to talk about jazz. I always joked with him that he made the right decision moving out of music and into business–we always had a good laugh about that. The other great memory I have is when he and his wife Linda treated me and my husband to dinner at the beautiful Annapolis Yacht Club. During the dinner, Rudy was genuinely interested in learning more about us, how we met, how we ended up living in Annapolis. We talked about music, the military, and our mutual love for Annapolis.” 

Despite your level of interaction with Rudy, his impact on the University of Maryland community is undeniable. 

“Unfortunately, I never got to meet Rudy but I am so incredibly thankful for all the opportunities that he has given to me and many aspiring entrepreneurs. When I first transferred to UMD from MC, I had a very hard time finding people that I could relate to until I found the Dingman Center. The team and the incredible entrepreneurs that I have met through this center made me feel so welcomed and also challenged me every day to be a better version of myself and it’s all thanks to Rudy. I really wish I had a chance to meet him and thank him, but his legacy lives through the Dingman Center and all the people that he has impacted,” said Caroline Ta, member of the Dingman Center Young Alumni Founders Council.

Barathi Aravindan, another member of the Dingman Center Young Alumni Founders Council agrees. “Despite having only met him once or twice, I only ever heard great things about him. It was and still is clear how much of an impact he had on Smith and the students during and after his tenure (the Dingman Center itself being a prime example!). Although he’s gone, he certainly left quite a legacy to be remembered by and to be utilized for generations of students to come.”

Feature Friday! Omega 3

Bright Djampa ’22 (middle) winning the Main Street Track grand prize at the 2022 Pitch Dingman Competition Finals.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Djampa: My name is Bright Djampa, I am a Nutrition and Food Science Major,  I graduated in May of 2022. 

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Djampa: Omega 3 Nutrition is a brain-centric food company that works to create affordable, accessible, absolutely delicious on-the-go snack items packed with nutrients to fortify and sustain one’s brain 

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Djampa: During my Freshman year in the spring of 2019 I realized there was a gap in the market space as it pertains to food that works to take care of one’s brain.

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
Djampa: Food is something that we consume every single day! Therefore, if a company wants to have a meaningful impact on someone’s brain health, one of the easiest ways to do so is through food. Food is also very affordable and accessible. 

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Djampa: We are looking to move into a newer and bigger production facility in order to ramp up production! We are also employed 6 new people on the production team. We have also launched a new product! The Omega 3 Cereal!! 

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Djampa: We are working on getting into the new production facility where we will be manufacturing nearly 1.2 million Omega 3 products per month. 

DC: Now that you’ve graduated, what’s next for your company?
Djampa: Trying to scale the company as much as possible so that we can supply many verticals as possible 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Djampa: NEVER BE afraid to pivot and stick to your gut/intuition above everything else. Remember this is a long game, it takes time for you to be proven right! Also, I know this sounds cheesy, but remain passionate about what you’re doing. If you’re going to work this hard at least make it something worthwhile. Love what you do and the love will translate to many people in various ways. Stay blazing 🙂 

To learn more about Omega 3, please visit the website here.


Feature Friday! Fancy & Spicy

Founder of Fancy & Spicy, Brin Xu ’23, with her first hardcover cookbook, Digital Delicacies.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Xu: My name is Brin Xu. I am completing my Ph.D. in Sociology in 2023. 

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Xu: Our company participated in the Terp Startup Fellows, Pitch Dingman Competition, Terp Startup Accelerator, and Dingman Fridays at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Xu: For culturally curious food enthusiasts who wish to learn how to cook and bake, we offer interactive video classes with home chefs that teach authentic cooking skills and culinary history.

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
Xu: During the pandemic, I used my free time to start a blog sharing my Sichuan cuisine with friends. I later published our first cookbook and started offering classes using Zoom. I taught a 10-dish series focused on Chinese Sichuan cuisine. The response was overwhelming, and I loved sharing my cooking and culture with the audience members. I realized there is a demand for interactive cooking classes, so I started marketing the classes beyond my friends. I am excited and committed to making Fancy & Spicy a household name for authentic ethnic cooking in our journey to come.

While still early, we have seen the joy our customers have when they learn to create a new dish. In fact, 60% of our customers take 3 or more classes. We find that young people love cooking at home and sharing their creations. However, existing online media (blogs, social media, videos) fail to provide an immersive learning environment, leaving people feeling entertained but not empowered to cook. That requires an environment that is social, dynamic, and fun, which is why I started Fancy & Spicy.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Xu: 2022 is our first business year. This year, we have had 500+ loyal customers. Our monthly revenue has exceeded $10K starting in September, and has been growing with a rate of 10% each month. 

Cookbook, Digital Delicacies, an amazing gift for the holiday season!

Also, we are excited to announce the creation of our first hardcover cookbook, Fancy & Spicy: Digital Delicacies (available on our website, Amazon, and Lulu). This cookbook is a collection of all the live cooking classes we offer, with an introduction from each of our chefs from around the world. We decided to create a book to give back to audiences that support us. It is a physical product to promote our brand awareness and build our customer loyalty. We are currently hosting an Instagram giveaway. Please follow us on IG (@fancyandspicy) and win a free copy! We also plan to host a book launch seminar at the Startup Shell on February 6th. Would love to see you then! (Register here)

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Xu: Customer acquisition is the most important thing we are working on. If you or someone you know might be interested in cooking classes, please check out our website at https://www.fancyandspicy.com/. We are offering Christmas sale 25% off on all the classes next week! 

There are several strategies we are pursuing. First, we will continue talking to our customers, discovering our ideal customers and where they turn to for cooking information. We will then tag ourselves to these places and build our community. Second, create amazing content to reach organic growth. While recruiting chefs, we focus on their ability to present, create content and attract followers. Third, continue target advertising while experimenting with diversified channels. Finally, we will motivate people to take more classes by launching new classes and programs. Through these efforts, we aim to acquire customers and to scale our business exponentially.

DC: As a student business owner, what motivates you?
Xu: Our chef team is fantastic. I can’t wait to go to work with them every day. We’re an international team and people share their thoughts about cooking, teaching, and bouncing ideas on social media content. For example, this week we just had a chef team meeting, where we brainstormed how to promote our classes in 2023. It’s really great to have a team that you’re excited to work with every day. 

Not only that, but also the excitement that our customers have for our products and what we’re doing.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Xu: Use every day as a learning opportunity. Every day is different, and you can use it to learn something new or ask a question. You don’t know what you don’t know, and more often than not, you’d be pleasantly surprised that someone is willing to sit down with you and explain something. Along the way, you might find a mentor or someone who is ready to take you under their wing and help you take those risks and navigate through the complex industry that we work in.

To learn more about Fancy & Spicy, please visit the website here.

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