This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the nine student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.
The founders of FroDoh are passionate about shaking up the food industry with their premium frozen desserts. Available in three flavors, blueberry, banana nut and s’mores, FroDoh’s donut holes remain delicious even after freezing, making them ideal for a luxurious late-night snack. Friends Simon Amato, CEO and Holly Wilson, COO launched the company in their junior year at University of Maryland, later bringing in Alexandra (Al) Cimino, CMO and Diego Lyon, CTO. The Dingman Center was able to interview FroDoh’s recently graduated team members, Simon, Holly and Al, who have chosen to pursue their startup full-time.
Want to support FroDoh? Help them raise $20,000 on their Indiegogo campaign!
How did you first come up with your idea?
Simon: I was house-sitting my best friend Johnny’s house while their whole family was on vacation. I was super hungry and there was nothing cool in the pantry so I went to the fridge, again couldn’t find anything. So then I opened up the freezer and there was a box of donuts on the bottom shelf and I was like “What?!” Never seen donuts in the freezer before. So I decided to just try one, right out of the freezer, and it was terrible. It was super hard and had no flavor. What could I expect? It was just a generic donut. But then I had this realization like, whoa. If we could actually design a donut so it would be super soft straight out of the freezer, and it had a glaze and a topping, that would be a really cool dessert. So then we tried to do it in one of our entrepreneurship classes, BMGT461.
Holly: Where we met each other!
Simon: Yeah, right! The whole class was designed to start a business and run it for the semester. So we did that and ended up selling a good amount of FroDohs and were like wow, this could actually be something.
Holly: Our first sale was actually through the Dingman Center. We met with [Entrepreneur-in-Residence] Andrea Keating on a Dingman Friday, and she pulled $10 out of her purse and said, “Deliver to my daughter at this sorority”, and we did.
What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Holly: The first major milestone that really made us feel like we had potential was selling over $1,000 in five weeks in our class.
Simon: And we were the highest earners in that class. So we made the most money and got the A.
Simon: *laughs* A+. So that was good. Then we were in Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals, we got into this lovely incubator here, and Jason Cohen, [Dingman Center Board Member, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Halen Brands], gave us the Jason ’96 & Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award—that was huge.
Holly: That was probably the best milestone.
Al: I was also in Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum (Hatch), which is what connected me with FroDoh.
Holly: That was a huge milestone adding Al to the team.
Al: Awww…thanks, guys! *everyone laughs*
What’s your team dynamic like?
Al: Our team dynamic is awesome. We’re all best friends and coworkers.
Simon: Communication is key. If there is a problem, anytime, bring it up. Don’t let it sit, put it on the table and we’ll solve it. We’re super connected.
Holly: And we care for each other! We talk about not just our feelings but our goals, our plans, our aspirations.
Al: There’s also an immense amount of trust between us that I’ve never felt before. I feel more than confident that I can relay a task to anyone on the team and it will get done to my standard.
Holly: We all know that it’s for the whole of the company.
Simon: It’s friends first, and we’re all on the same page for making this happen. Half the time it really doesn’t feel like work.
How do you feel about working in an incubator?
Al: This has been really great for us. Especially since we just graduated, going from the structure of being students and having our day planned out to graduating and having all this free time. We can do work wherever we want, but like today we decided let’s meet here at 9:30 a.m. and get work done. It gives us the structure that we need, and if we have questions we can go across the hall and get answers.
Simon: Also, the mentor crew is so awesome. For instance, Al reached out to Micha Weinblatt, [Rudy Award winner for Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year, and founder and CEO of Betterific and Crooked Monkey].
All together: He’s connecting us to the COO of Cinnabon!
Holly: It’s crazy to have access to that network.
Simon: All the mentors are so willing to help.
Al: Also, collaboration with the other startups here. People have other resources that they’ve heard about or different software. Any kind of collaboration in here is beneficial.
Simon: Yeah, like Didac Hormiga from Flee suggested a way to crowdfund that I had never thought about. Just being around other good active minds in the incubator is nice.
What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Al: We want to do a ton of market research. Really defining our product, our packaging, and our consumer.
Simon: This eight weeks is really about organization. All business documents—business plan, customer surveys…
Holly: Getting the most dankness per calorie. *everyone laughs*
Simon: Dankness is quality! We’ll be doing recipe development and testing, trying to make the donuts as healthy as possible without losing the flavor everyone has loved so far.
Holly: We love solving these problems. Problems aren’t daunting, problems are welcomed.
Al: Everything is a test and we wanna get A’s.