by: Megan McPherson
On December 7, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Smith School of Business Food Entrepreneurship Conference at University of Maryland’s Shady Grove campus for the first time. Each year, students in Smith’s Entrepreneurship Fellows program organize the event from start to finish, selecting a new name and seeking out new local vendors to feature their food products. This year the event was named the “YUMpreneurship Showcase”and with fifty diverse and delicious food vendors for attendees to sample from, it more than lived up to its title. For just a $10 charitable donation to Manna Food Center, attendees were able to eat one sample from each vendor and give gold coins to the ones they enjoyed the most. At the end of the night, the coins were counted to decide which vendor’s food was the tastiest.
Among the local food vendors were two well-known University of Maryland student founded startups: Javazen and FroDoh. Javazen won the national Cupid’s Cup business competition this year with their energizing fusion of tea and coffee. FroDoh was a Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinalist this year and on January 25 will be taking up residence in the Maryland Food Collective at Stamp Student Union to sell their homemade frozen doughnut holes.
To wrap up the event, Smith School Professor Oliver Schlake announced to the room that the winner of the competition would win a 90 minute advising session with Chris Rehkamp, our Student and Venture Programs Manager and former Membership Manager at the DC food incubator Union Kitchen. The winner of the competition and of this coveted prize was Mashi Market, a local food truck that makes Korean rice bowls.
As you can probably tell, we all had a really fantastic time eating delicious local food and talking with talented food entrepreneurs. The students did an amazing job running the event, and I can’t wait to go again next year!