Announcing the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinalists

PDC Semifinalists

This year’s Pitch Dingman Competition application phase saw a wide range of applications from undergraduate, graduate and PhD students from across UMD. After undergoing a quarterfinals review from alumni judges, we’re excited to announce the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition semifinalists and second cohort of Hisaoka Entrepreneurs. The founders of the semifinalists teams will receive mentoring and coaching to help them further accelerate their businesses, whether or not they make the cut for Pitch Dingman Competition Finals. On Thursday, Nov. 15 from 6-7:30 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall, these 10 student startups will pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges at the Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals, chaired by Robert G. Hisaoka. The audience will have a chance to vote for their favorite semifinalist to take home a $500 prize. We’re excited to see who wins the opportunity to pitch at the Finals on March 7, 2019 for a shot at the grand prize of $15,000!

Register here to attend and read on about each semifinalist in their own words below.

Algen AirKelsey Abernathy, PhD ’20 and Dan Fucich, PhD ’20
AlgenAir creates desktop bioreactors to help home and office space consumers combat the problem of indoor air pollution by using algae to clean the air we breathe.

Aurora Tights – Jasmine Snead ’19
Aurora Tights designs performance apparel for dancers and skaters in the full-color spectrum. By giving performers the option to get tights in their unique skin color, we’re sending the message “You DO belong in this sport.”

Code&Play LLC – Felipe De Padua, MS ’19
Code&Play is an online coding school for kids and teenagers. Learn to code with real engineers in real time.

crepkitchenMathew Steininger ’22 and Awsaf Sikdar ’22
Limited edition sneakers and clothing often sell out quickly when stores release them. In order for customers to purchase, they need to have prior knowledge of the store, time, URLs, etc. of the releases. We provide information for them to do so.

DauntlessCaitlyn Singam ’20
Hazardous medications are becoming an increasingly large part of everyday life, and though they help save lives they can cause harm if improperly handled. Dauntless aims to make the world of medicine a safer place for everyone, one label at a time.

Olympus Projects – Peter Robinson ’19, Zubin Gadhoke ’19
Olympus Projects is an independent management and consulting label on a mission to empower music artists in the digital age. We provide artists with management and consulting services that help them build businesses around their talent.

OpenPoll – Zachary Wynegar ’19
We connect end users to decision makers through web and mobile polling.

Pearl Long Term Care Solutions, Inc. – Myisha Gatson, MBA ’19
Pearl Long Term Care Solutions, Inc. uses FinTech to create a platform for consumers to lock-in long term care costs in real-time by leveraging securitization tools to smooth volatility for families & providers by stabilizing future buying behavior.

Solr Tech – Alexei Onufrak ’20
Solr Tech has created the first way to turn any patio umbrella into a solar charging station, meaning whether you’re at a hotel, by the pool, at a cafe, or at your favorite outdoor study spot, you’ll always have a convenient way to charge up.

Synapto – Dhruv Patel ’20, Chris Look ’20, Anoop Patel ’20, David Boegner ’20, Megha Guggari ’20
Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis always happens too late, leaving patients and families with less options for clinical treatment, financial & legal planning. Synapto uses novel AI models and portable EEG to make diagnosis more accessible & efficient.

Meet the judges who will be deciding the fate of the semifinalists:

Maurice Boissiere ’89 – Founder, Higher Calling Ventures
Maurice is a startup coach and consultant committed to helping people turn their concepts into reality. He has more than 20 years of product leadership experience at early-stage ventures and is an Adjunct Professor at UMD.

Benjamin Khakshoor ’18 – Product Security Engineer, Flatiron Health
An alumnus of Fearless Founders, Ben and his co-founder Aaron Bloch ’17 launched CourseHunter, a platform to revolutionize college registration systems. CourseHunter came in second in the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, and the founders both won Student Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2017 Rudy Awards. Ben is also a former director at Startup Shell.

Juliana Neelbauer, JD ’12 – Senior Associate Attorney, Drew Eckl & Farnham
Juliana Neelbauer is an attorney and business ops executive with more than a decade of experience in growth management, team building, policy implementation, business continuity planning, project and team management, contracts negotiation, and enterprise-wide asset management for fast-growth organizations of all sizes.

Polly Vail – Founder, Turnstyle Partners
Polly Vail is an Independent Consultant for startups and social impact clients. She provides customer discovery and acquisition strategies as well as sector analysis for clients. She helps clients become financially stable by developing plans for generating revenue and profits, as well as raising funds. 

Adam VanWagner ’11, MPS ’15 – Technical Program Manager, Amazon Web Services
Prior to joining Amazon Web Services, Adam worked at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, operating as the Community and Student Programs Manager. As a student at UMD, Adam founded, a dorm-sized refrigerator rental service. He competed in the 2011 Cupid’s Cup student business competition and won first place and $15,000.

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