Fearless Founders Complete Successful Semester by Winning Seed Funds

The Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator program guides the University of Maryland’s most entrepreneurial students from idea to launch. This experiential program demystifies the venture creation process by breaking it up into three stages: Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup. At the recent Pitch Dingman Semifinal Competition, 10 students from the Idea Shell stage were awarded $500 seed grants provided by Capital One. These students spent much of the semester interviewing customers to validate ideas and developing a minimum viable product. At the final Idea Shell meeting, each founder pitched his or her idea in hopes of receiving one of the Capital One MVP grants. In the end, the following 10 startups received funding.

Idea Shell grant recipients.

Idea Shell $500 Capital One MVP grants:


Founder: Carl Comasco

Currently, homeowners have to contact multiple contractors in order to get a home refreshed. Refresh is a service that will provide “one stop shop” for curb appeal improvement.


Founder: Natalie Urban

uBoard manufactures and sells customizable headboards for college students. Customers can order any color or pattern they would like. For example, the company offers solid colors, the Maryland flag, and tapestry style patterns. The uBoard is high-quality, affordable for the college market and easy to install.

East Habesha

Founder: Saron Asfaw

East Habesha is a website that sells Ethiopian dresses and food spices to customers in the DC metropolitan area. There is a large population of Ethiopians in the DC metropolitan area and there are many vendors that supply these necessities. What makes this startup different is that the prices are low but the quality is high.


Founder: Shyon Parsadoust

RollaWire is a small earphone cord retracting device. Users place their earphones in the Rollawire device to prevent a dangerous and annoying tangled mess. The device keeps the earphones neat and organized. With RollaWire, users can retract  earphone cables and replace them if they break. An added benefit is that the user can extend the earphones out as far as desired because there is a lock.

Campfire Marketing

Founder: Bret Caples

A digital and experiential marketing firm that leverages the media assets of the university to provide custom marketing solutions to businesses in the area. The startup provides a community oriented approach to marketing consulting for the small to medium business and student groups who can’t afford large scale marketing efforts.


Founder: Gabriel LaFranchi

Snapchat is the best way to connect and engage with customers through social media since it combines photos, videos, text and emojis. However, Snapchat is missing a key element, the search function. Snapvertise helps jumpstart and run company-centric Snapchat accounts  in order to increase followers who want to connect and engage with a company or brand.


Co-Founders: Ab Kapoor & David Potter

There are a lot of factors that determine your credit score, but no service that helps manage all of this chaos. Curu is here to alleviate that pain by providing the tools to clear up this gray area of credit and put users on the road to saving thousands. Through giving users a live Heads Up Display of factors influencing their credit, and a unique payment cycle to optimally increase a users credit score. Curu helps the user understand and take charge of their credit.


Founder: John Harlepas

CellShare is a service that allows people to buy and sell data from each other. Essentially, it is Uber for data.


Founder: Philemon Mastewal

The current music selection process is a dictatorship where one person has full control. Queue allows users to select upcoming music choices so they can hear the music they want.

Pregrame Ritual

Founder: James Thompson

The Pregame Ritual is the most convenient and digestible way to receive sports news. Via a newsletter, the startup delivers everything a sports fan needs to stay in the loop. Pregame Ritual sends readers one email each weekday morning.

Capital One provides MVP grants in both the Idea Shell and Hatch phases of Fearless Founders. Learn more about the program by visiting our website.

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