To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Dingman Center is featuring a series of blog posts about our EnTERPreneur Acadmey, a program to help guide student ventures from idea to launch. The Academy provides members with a variety of resources including startup fundamentals workshops, advising, office space, selling opportunities and seed funding. The Academy’s three stages Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup provide students with specific resources and requirements that suit the level of progress for their ventures.
Our last featured startup is Triple Impact, founded by EnTERPreneur Academy member Abby Murray and her co-founders. Abby is a senior at the University of Maryland who came up with Triple Impact as part of the Smith School’s Social Innovation Fellows Program. Triple Impact won the Audience Choice Award for the Pitch Dingman Competition at last year’s Social Enterprise Symposium (hosted by the Smith School’s Center for Social Value Creation) and is poised to do great things in the Corporate Social Responsibility space. Read the Q&A to find out more about Triple Impact!
Q: Please describe your business.
A: Triple Impact works closely with a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility department or leadership development team to provide the corporation’s employees a system where they can leverage their skills to support underdeveloped communities. We coordinate meaningful corporate service projects both domestically and abroad that provide benefits the company, the employees and the community. Through these meaningful projects, we strive to transform communities and enrich companies through developing employee leadership, world awareness and motivation.
Q: How did you get the idea for your business?
A: In the fall of 2011, my partners and I were brought together by the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Social Innovation Fellows program where we were given the assignment of developing a business plan for a non-profit or social enterprise. We soon realized that we all had a similar view: one should not have to choose between conventional and altruistic career paths. Triple Impact was created to be a solution for having to choose between going into a corporate setting or the field of development/non-profits after graduation.
Q: What phase is your venture in and what are your next steps?
A: We recently presented to our first potential client, the R.H. Smith School of Business, which is developing a leadership institute for its top-performing faculty and staff. We are also registered as a Benefit L.L.C. in Maryland. From a marketing perspective, we have created a website and set up various forms of social media. We are currently in the process of scaling our business plan to a more manageable size and setting realistic goals for the next year. Additionally, we are working to form strong partnerships with both local and global non-profits as well as organizations in the development field. This will not only be very helpful to us from an informational perspective but it will give us access to communities worldwide.
Q: What drew you to become entrepreneurs?
A: We are all business students with entrepreneurial mindsets as well as a passion for service. As a result of our involvement in the Social Innovation Fellows Program, we saw that it was possible to combine these two passions. Triple Impact is a company that we all truly believe in and we can all see ourselves spending the rest of our careers working towards our ultimate goal: to live in a world where all corporations enrich the world we live in as part of their normal operations.
Q: As a student startup, what are some of the challenges that you face?
A: Like many startup companies, Triple Impact faces challenges in obtaining customers. While we have done extensive research, built our networks, and honed our leadership skills with service projects abroad, we face challenges in identifying ways to convey our value to potential clients. To address these challenges, we have been proactive in seeking advice from investors, professors and mentors to build a plan to not only boost our experience but also our confidence. We are also focusing on understanding our market, clearly identifying our unique value proposition and establishing an experienced set of advisors who can offer advice while lending credibility to our venture.
Q: How did the Dingman Center contribute to the development of your start up?
A: The Dingman Center has always been a great resource and has truly been the differentiator in the development of our company. We participated in the Pitch Dingman Competition this past March and received $250 in seed funding by winning the audience choice award. With this money, we were able to advance our business by printing business cards and hiring a web designer. Through working with the Dingman Center and the momentum we gained from Pitch Dingman, we were able to reach out to our first investor who contributed $1,000 to help kick start our business.
Q: What about being a part of the EnTERPreneur Academy excites you the most?
A: We are all incredibly excited about being a part of the EnTERPreneur Academy. When building a venture from scratch, it is always great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share the same passion for entrepreneurship. The idea of collaborating with other student entrepreneurs who can also make an impact on the development of our business is really exciting. In addition, having a designated office space where all four of our founders can meet is also a great help given our busy schedules.