The end of the semester is here once again! Student entrepreneurs are buckling down to get through their final exams, group projects and presentations before they’re off for the holidays. As the Dingman Center quiets down while students are studying, we’ve had time to reflect on the events we’ve held throughout the semester. In these past few months, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of energy, engagement and enthusiasm from the community at our events and programs at the Smith School. Take a look at some of our favorite highlights over the past semester!
Every Friday, we have student entrepreneurs come in to speak with our advisors for resources and guidance on their startup ideas. Through this semester, we’ve had fantastic turnout from our entrepreneurs.
If you’re interested in cultivating your startup idea or are looking for resources and guidance on running your business, you can sign up here to schedule a meeting with an advisor when we come back on January 26, 2018!
Robert G. Hisakoa Speaker Series featuring Ted Leonsis
The beginning of the semester was filled with excitement as we launched our new program, the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series! The inaugural speaker of the program was Ted Leonsis, Owner & CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Students, staff, faculty and alumni came to listen to an intimate conversation between Ted and Robert on sports, entrepreneurship, investing and the importance of philanthropy. Attendees like Mandar Kashikar took away key life lessons and inspiration from the event.
spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start
The second annual event of spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start was a huge success! spark was a two-day brainstorming festival co-hosted with Startup Shell from October 20 – October 21 that invited students from all different majors to collaborate, discuss and come up with creative solutions to problems they care about. On the first night, Dr. Oliver Schlake facilitated “Problemstorming” activities on that challenged them to form teams and think about what problems in the world they wanted to fix. Then the students returned on Saturday for an engaging lecture with Maurice Boissiere that helped them hone in on a solution to their chosen problem. At the end of an inspiring and productive two days, we saw teams of students work together and give fantastic pitches on their startup ideas. Read our recap on this year’s spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start here!
This semester, we introduced a new workshop to help students turn their ideas into ventures: Dingman Jumpstart. This three-hour crash course takes aspiring entrepreneurs through our workbook, “The Business of Startups”, walking them through the basics of honing in on a target market, exploring business models and what to ask during the customer discovery process.
To celebrate the homecoming festivities, we hosted Terp Marketplace on Friday, October 27 where student entrepreneurs businesses got to set up their businesses in the Smith School and sell directly to other students, faculty, staff and alumni. Students offered a wide variety of products such as clothing, custom hats, waffles, bracelets and more! These student entrepreneurs brought a high amount of energy as they engaged with consumers and capitalized on the opportunity to test their product within a local market. Find out more about this semester’s Terp Marketplace and the student businesses that were in attendance here!
Ladies First is the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. Our second annual Ladies First Fall Dinner was met with resounding enthusiasm as Sara Herald, Associate Director of Social Entrepreneurship, brought together 80 young women to discuss and reflect on their skills, passions and ways they can utilize social entrepreneurship to make the world a better place. Students also had the opportunity to listen to 24-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of MISFIT Juicery Ann Yang as she shared her experiences and challenges of being a female entrepreneur. For a thorough reflection on the Ladies First Fall Dinner, read Karolyn Maynard’s blog post here!
Board of Advisors
This year, the Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship expanded its Board of Advisors from 15 to 21 members to help further engage successful founders, investors and business leaders in the activities of the Dingman Center. The new appointees are PV Boccassam, Maurice Boissiere, Paul Capriolo, Stephen Ferber, Gloria Jacobovitz and Pam Rothenberg.
Dingman Center Angels
For the Dingman Angels, this semester was one of robust growth in membership, sponsorship and deals. We are pleased to welcome 11 new members to the group! The addition of these members grew DCA by more than 25% and has noticeably boosted the group’s engagement and presence in the region’s start up ecosystem. Additionally, DCA brought on leading global law firm, Venable, as a new Platinum Level Sponsor.
Throughout the semester, we screened nearly 100 investment opportunities and brought in 15 of those companies to present at Review Day. The best 9 then advanced to present at our 3 investor meetings held this past semester.
The Dingman Angels invested in Ethix 360, from our September Investor Meeting, and are currently in the final stages of an investment in Rybbon, from our October Investor Meeting. We look forward to carrying this momentum in 2018!
Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals
Our semester was capped off with the highly anticipated Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals. Students, staff, faculty and alumni alike rushed to grab a seat to watch student entrepreneurs battle it out and pitch their startup ideas for a spot in the finals! The judges were faced with a difficult decision as all of the student presentations were excellent; however, there were six exemplary companies that stood above the rest and will compete in the Pitch Dingman Competition Finals next semester. Congratulations to BEEQBOX, Dark Sonar Technologies, Emprology, Flee, Manta Technologies and Symbiont Health! Come watch them pitch their businesses at the Finals in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union on March 6, 2018.