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.
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 Block – Gabrielle 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 Candles – Courtney 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 242 – Kang 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 Cities – Marie 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 Network – Candace 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 Fashion – Herbert 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 Productions – Griffin 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 Clothes – Brian 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 yarn – Anna 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 Passport – Dorian 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 DASH – Ina 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.
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.
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’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.”
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.
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.
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.
DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno:
Chief Design Officer: Mika Panday, UMD 2021
Chief Technology Officer: Colleen Baldwin, American University 2021
Chief Executive Officer: Olivia Bruno, American University, 2020; Cornell University 2022
DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: Platybase has been fully immersed in Dingman Center programs since our inception. We got our start in Terp Startup Accelerator’s Summer 2021 cohort and we are now part of Terp Startup Fellows. Out of all the Universities our team has attended, American University, Cornell University and UMD, UMD and the Dingman Center have risen far above all others in their impact on our venture. Through the Dingman Center, we gained incredible mentors like Michael Kapoor, Zeki Mokhtarzada and David Engle who have led us through difficult times and allowed us to grow into the team we are today. We are beyond grateful for the mentorship and experiences that Terp Startup has provided us with over the last two years and we are so excited to see where Bill Boyle, Tsega Belachew and the Terp Startup Fellows program will lead us next.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: Platybase was founded by three neurodivergent women on a mission to improve the lives of the next generation of families impacted by disabilities. With the help of Platybase’s HIPAA compliant communication platform, families and therapy providers build community support and create a visual diary of progress for their children. Visual diaries provide motivation for everyone and focus care teams on the positive impact of their work, while decreasing miscommunications and turnover.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: Growing up we all faced challenges due to our differences, and we watched those closest to us become victims of existing systems in mental and behavioral healthcare. Accountability and communication are the pillars of trust, which is broken between many families and the institutions aiming to serve them. With Platybase, our goal is to build trust and create the communities we wish our families could have experienced.
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last three months? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: Our team has been focused on raising non-dilutive funding and building our client base. Over the last year we have raised a total of 45k non-dilutive funding and we have grown astronomically, from only 36 users at one center to onboarding approximately 1,000 across 14 centers. This growth and financing is allowing us to track the ROI of Platybase, which aims to improve parent satisfaction, learning outcomes for children, client and employee turnover rates, and dosage fulfillment (the number of hours pediatric therapy has been recommended for vs. the number of hours a parent agrees to have their child treated for). By the end of May, we will have meaningful data proving Platybase’s ROI for therapy centers and value for parents and kiddos.
DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: The most important thing we are currently working on is showing value to our clients and families; however, on a personal level we are using our product to fight injustice and save lives. Olivia’s uncle who has Down’s Syndrome was badly neglected and abused in a hospital while he was being treated for Covid. He was not prioritized by the medical staff and was left without food, water or access to the lavatory, and since he was in a covid ward his family was not permitted to visit and therefore had no way of knowing how he was being treated or protecting him from such abuse. Thankfully once this was discovered he was moved to a rehab hospital where Olivia’s family has insisted his staff use the Platybase application to increase accountability in his care. With Platybase, his caretakers send photos and videos of his progress and his care daily, and communicate with his entire family in one place. Since moving and using platybase with his new nurses, he has turned a corner and improved significantly. While Platybase is currently marketed to pediatric therapy centers, this horrific experience has taught the founders how critical it is to offer our product to all ages. Once we receive funding and grow as a company, we believe that Platybase will create a better world for people with disabilities at every age.
DC: As student business owners, what motivates you? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: Our personal experiences and the experiences of our family members motivate us everyday. One in six children under the age of 18 has been diagnosed with a disability in the USA and it is our responsibility to create a better world for the next generation of people like us.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be? Panday, Baldwin, and Bruno: Entrepreneurship is fun and exciting, but it can also make you feel like Sisyphis, perpetually pushing a boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down again. The problem you are trying to solve needs to be intrinsically important to you, so that the benefits of success outweigh the turmoil of getting there.
To learn more about Platybase, please visit the website here.
It’s never too early to start holiday shopping! Find the perfect gifts for all the people in your life while supporting an enTERPreneur this week at Terp Marketplace. Join the Dingman Center on Wednesday, November 16th, in Van Munching Hall to shop from unique student-owned businesses and find everything from tech, to dietary-friendly snacks, to the comfiest UMD custom apparel!
Here is a list of the top 10 things we’re excited about buying this semester at Terp Marketplace:
Co-Founders: Austin Smith ‘26, Samuel Sowers ‘26, Jon Kasner ‘26
Forget artificial scents, these unique, cost-efficient candles are made with real bacon grease—and will have you craving breakfast all day long.
Co-Founders: Sarah Ferkler ‘23, Marc Cifiello ‘23, John Fetsch ‘24
Show off your Maryland pride with thrifted and upcycled University of Maryland apparel. Testudo’s Closet also accepts custom orders, where they will personalize your own clothes!
Founder: Emily Garcia ‘23
Support a Terp and those affected by chronic illnesses this holiday season with Wittle Spoonies handmade and originally designed stickers, notepads, pins, bookmark paintings, and more!
The Burrows Garden:
Co-Founders: Kayla Swisher ‘24, Ava Laubach ‘25
Stay fashionable AND sustainable with The Burrows Garden. Find anything from handmade pressed floral earrings to clay charm bookmarks to crochet bags, hats, and more!
Have a chef in the family? They’ll love experimenting in the kitchen with Pepper Bee’s spiced-infused honey! Find all your favorites like lavender, basil, rosemary, chili flakes, and mint.
Magneto by OffTrend:
Co-Founders: Ali Rajabi ‘24, Eric Gulich ‘23
Calling all tech lovers!! Check out OffTrend’s fashionable MagSafe tech products like phone wallets, RFID blockers, Airtag cases, phone cases, and screen protectors.
Founder: Herbert Obeng
Elevate your look with Herbin’s Fashion’s customized African clothing and accessories. Shop apparel like T-shirts, bomber jackers, hoodies, sweatshirts, polos, and more.
Co-Founders: Abdullah Diao ‘22, Gabrielle Cannady ‘23, Robert Lukubama ‘26
Don’t let your dietary restrictions hold you back. Satisfy your sweet tooth with these delicious and dietary-friendly on-the-go cookies and treats.
Co-Founders: Jiasheng Lu ‘22, Yong Hun Na ‘23, Adam Larsen ‘23, Brian Escobar ‘22
Ruff Days has the most paw-fect gift for your furry friends. Get a Ruff Bandana, with a custom print from your favorite sports teams. Now you and your best friend can match for game-day no matter who you root for!
Prophets2Profits Capital LLC:
Co-Founders: Ephraim Shaw ‘24, Beza Solomon ‘24
Give the gift of knowledge with Prophets2Profits Capital LLC’s 10-lesson course on financial literacy. By the end of the course, users will be able to understand concepts like the stock market, options trading, equity investments, technical analysis, chart patterns, and more.
DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year? Andhavarapu: My name is Sanketh Andhavarapu, and I graduate in the spring of 2023 with a degree in Health Decision Sciences. [Vitalize was also co-founded by Veeraj Shah ’21.]
DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with? Andhavarapu: We participated in the 2020 Terp Startup Accelerator, and the 2021-22 Terp Startup Fellows. We won the Quattrone Venture Track Grand Prize and Audience Choice Prize at the 2022 Pitch Dingman Competition.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup? Andhavarapu: Vitalize works with healthcare employers to improve the mental health of their staff. For individual healthcare workers, we offer a mobile app with healthcare-centric coaching, peer support and mindfulness content. For employers, we provide a web-based dashboard with robust data on staff well-being trends, app engagement, and drivers of burnout.
DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup? Andhavarapu: In high school, I had the opportunity to be the Chief Human Resources Officer of a nonprofit organization. I learned that I really enjoyed leading and inspiring teams to collectively achieve social impact. This experience directly motivated me to found STEPS, a revenue-generating education nonprofit. In this role, I realized how important it was for me to take on an irreplaceable role in anything that I put time and effort into. I liked knowing that as a founder, there is no one more knowledgeable about your idea and innovation than yourself, and that you’re leaving a unique footprint on the world. I didn’t find this same sense of personal fulfillment when looking at the different clubs I could join when I first came to UMD. This is why, when I had the idea for Vitalize, I knew I had to take action and it was a no-brainer that I wanted to invest my time and effort into making it successful. Through Vitalize, I have the unique opportunity to transform healthcare through innovation and creativity.
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months? Andhavarapu: Last summer, Vitalize launched an unpaid pilot with Midland Health. We were able to convert this pilot into a paid annual contract with their entire system, where we’re now launching to 2000 staff members in January, 2023. Yes, this means we’re officially post-revenue! With this progress, we’ve also accepted investments from several VC funds and angels including Conscious Venture Partners, StartUp Health, and Dorm Room Fund.
DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen? Andhavarapu: As the Chief Product Officer, I am currently working on ensuring that our product and coaching pipeline is ready for the upcoming health system launch. I currently manage a outsourced development team of 5 engineers and meet with them daily to ensure that we’re staying on timeline and building our product efficiently. I also coordinate all communications and onboarding of coaches to ensure the service-side of our product is ready-to-go. Finally, I work with our Director of Mindfulness to ensure that our library of on-demand content is also ready for launch.
DC: As a student business owner, how do you define success? Andhavarapu: Success means answering the following three questions that must be answered with a resounding “yes”:
Am I addressing a problem that I care deeply about with a solution that has potential for grand impact. In my opinion, poor mental health of healthcare workers is one of the largest problems in healthcare, and building Vitalize allows me to be a part of the solution.
Am I continuously learning new skills, gaining knowledge, learning about myself, and growing my network. I have arguably learned more from building Vitalize than most of my classes, and I got to meet amazing founders, healthcare executives, and clinicians throughout my journey.
Is my time and effort translating into meaningful traction milestones or learnings for the venture? With Vitalize, I have the opportunity to set new goals each month and work towards them.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be? Andhavarapu: Customer discovery is one of the most important skills in your toolkit, and it remains on your to-do list regardless of the stage of your venture. If you have an idea that you are looking to pursue, it is important to conduct several unbiased interviews with all the potential stakeholders (customers, payers, partners, etc). Customer discovery is a great way to validate assumptions and de-risk your startup before investing too much money and time into a potentially flawed concept.
Also, don’t be afraid to talk about your idea! So many people are concerned about someone stealing their idea, but talking about it is the only way to get the feedback and advice you need to continue building the business.
Finally, don’t confuse funding for traction. Ultimately, what determines a success trajectory for a startup is proving value and willingness to pay for customers. Funding is amazing and can help you achieve these milestones, but funding alone does not progress the venture.
To learn more about Vitalize, please visit the website here.
Globally, incredible amounts of morbidity and mortality are caused by preventable diseases that can be mitigated by changes in health behavior and community-level health interventions. Oral diseases impact nearly 3.5 billion people, malaria affected 241 individuals in 2020, and diet-related noncommunicable diseases are linked to unhealthy eating behaviors that persist internationally (WHO). Public Health Beyond Borders, Inc. is determined to empower families and communities both locally and globally, to achieve their best health through sustainable education workshops and advocacy. We envision a world where the next generation of global health professionals works collaboratively with communities to identify, combat, and reduce health disparities.
Current PHBB, Inc. projects are located in Compone, Peru; Calaba Town, Sierra Leone; Varanasi, India; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and locally in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Since the founding of PHBB in 2013, nearly 1,000 students, faculty, and graduate students have traveled on 13 international trips and reached nearly 3,000 children and community members. PHBB is focused on building sustainable relationships with partner communities and approaching its work through a culturally competent lens. All PHBB, Inc. interventions are based on needs-based assessments that ensure the development of relevant and effective material. Ties with our partner community are sustained through constant communication, even through the COVID-19 pandemic, in which projects were still completed including fundraising for school materials for SouthPoint elementary school in India, the creation of COVID-19 health promotion videos for our partner school in Compone, Peru, the sending of an iPad to Abigail D. Butscher Primary School in Calaba Town, Sierra Leone, and other fundraising events and projects in all partner communities. PHBB, Inc.’s efforts are directed towards making a change in these partner communities on a personal level by understanding what the focus of the most effective intervention would be. In addition to having a global influence, the goal is to reduce health disparities while instilling long-lasting knowledge of cultural competency in the group members to create a generational impact.
Use of Funds
Public Health Beyond Borders, Inc. previously received $314 from the Dingman Center for similar costs incurred by our start-up, which allowed us to continue hosting our website and maintain our social media.
Students: Kent Wang, Zeyang Liu, Nanxin Luo Prize: $1000.00
Juju Food Delivery provides affordable food delivery for busy students and workers. We use bulk delivery and food locker pick-up to improve efficiency and reduce delivery costs.
NotUrAverage Candles’ mission is to highlight the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through fragrance. They aim to not only provide phenomenal candles with dynamic scents but expose our customers to various STEM fields and phenomena. Each line released will be centered around a different field. All NotUrAverage Candles are hand-poured and made with sustainability in mind. All materials in our candles are environmentally friendly, phthalate-free, and reusable.
They will use their funds to prepare for the holiday season.
Use of Funds
Fragrance Oils: $300
Storage Shelf: $100
Canva Pro: $120
Game Changers New York
Students: Sara Blau ’24 Prize: $1000.00
Game Changers New York is a 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that collects and distributes sports equipment for kids in need globally.
They will use their funds to help underrepresented children who don’t have access to sports equipment.
Use of Funds
$360 – one year subscription to Quickbooks
$444 – 6 hours of work of website developer
$196 – 2.45 hours of work of our accountant
Students: Robert Choe ’23 Prize: $500.00
There are 4 million individuals (3 million adolescents and 1 million adults) that receive dental braces treatment every year. Unfortunately, braces wearers face a long and complicated oral hygiene routine that compromises their oral health. Specifically, this population faces an increased risk of developing cavities and gum disease during/after treatment. When we overview the market, there is no oral hygiene product that specifically caters to this population. Our venture aims to develop a full-mouth oral hygiene device that primarily utilizes fluid-jet action to remove the debris and plaque off the high-risk area on teeth and dental braces.
Use of Funds
$500 – Prototyping and redesign of device casing
Students: Candace Austin ’23 Prize: $1500.00
At Exercise Network we design fitness and aquatics programs to help individuals Live.Life. Healthier. We are solving the problem of physical activity levels declining especially among children. Researchers have found that this decline is linked to an increase in chronic disease cases, such as sudden cardiac arrest and obesity, developing among children.
Use of Funds
$900- Licenses and Certifications necessary for Fitness Instruction
$250- Website/online development (Updating website, creating digital promotional content)
$200- 1 month of space rental for class demos
$100- Equipment for classes
$50- Marketing & Ads (Printing Flyers, Signs, Digital Ads)
DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year? Spinner: Brian Spinner my major is Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Environment and Agriculture and my graduation year is May 2023.
DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with? Spinner: I am currently involved in the New Venture Practicum.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup? Spinner: My startup is my clothing brand “Old Town, New Clothes” which has created a circular economy for clothing in the College Park region. I take in students and members of the local communities Old clothing they no longer have a purpose for and put them on display at pop-up events all around campus and these donors get a portion of the profit once these items sell. I use the remaining revenue to invest back into my company to make custom clothing for my brand.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? Spinner: I have a couple of influences for my startup. My parents have always been very supportive of me and love what I’m doing and when they are impressed with how its going this keeps me going. I also would like to give a shoutout to two of my inspirations that have also been friends and mentors Carson Alford the founder of wiseandfoolish clothing co and Findcnt a local artist and musician and founder of NBCKWRLD. These two people are the ones who I talked to over the phone and they helped me early on with guiding my passions in the right direction.
DC: How did you come up with the name of your venture? Spinner: I came up with the name Old Town, New Clothes early fall semester of my Junior year. I had an idea of starting a produce stand in Old Town that would run weekly with the name “Old Town, Fresh Produce” in mind. When drawing up this name in my sketchbook I never even got to writing fresh produce I just added New Clothes instead and loved the way it looked and sounded.
DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen? Spinner: The most important thing I am working on right now is my “Northeast Tour” I printed 100 shirts that have a roadmap graphic of my tour that will take place next weekend. I am selling 25 different shirts at 4 different colleges in the northeast region. I already have the shirts and now I am working on promoting and getting the word out to these other schools. By the end of this tour starting here at UMD I will have 100 other people from all over the country wearing my merchandise and supporting the business. I will use the revenues from this to launch my Fall Winter drop which is in the works right now.
DC: As a student business owner, what motivates you? Spinner: The thing that motivates me most is creation. All my life I had a drive to create media for others to consume whether this was YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok, art or music. I always loved creating things that other people can enjoy. Old Town, New Clothes is the platform that I use to combine all of these things into one and continue to create never before seen ideas that came from my head. There has been days where I will walk around and see 10+ people wearing pieces of clothing I sold them and that alone is enough to motivate me to keep going.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be? Spinner: My advice to young entrepreneurs is to take that risk and bet on yourself. Getting that prototype made, or making a post on your personal instagram about your business can be scary. But take the chance because college is the best time to do that and I wish I started earlier. Starting up that idea of yours is a lot easier when you have a student and university by your side helping you through the process and rooting for you.
To learn more about Old Town, New Clothes, please visit the website here.