This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the fifteen student startups who are participating in our Terp Startup summer accelerator at the College Park WeWork. 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.
Founder & CEO : Shyon Parsadoust ’19, Economics major, Technology Entrepreneurship Minor
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Parsadoust: Toucan is a digital catalog of student talent with the mission of helping student creators make money doing what they love.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Parsadoust: I have been cutting hair since I was a Freshman in college and have helped several of my friends make money doing everything from app development to booking venues to perform at. I finally realized in my senior year of college that this was actually a large opportunity space. After sitting down and writing out a list of passions and my accessible resources, I quickly learned that I was actually properly equipped to solve a problem that was near and dear to my heart. And so forth Toucan was born.
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Parsadoust: I was nominated Dingman Entrepreneur of the Year, a Hinman CEO Program Entrepreneur of the Year, awarded the Waldstreicher Fund, and got accepted into Terp Startup. I’ve also partnered with Startup Shell, the Dingman Center, American Marketing Association, Terrapin Development Company, the University of Maryland art department and The Vibe Room.
DC: What drives you to keep going?
Parsadoust: Having experienced this universal issue at multiple times throughout my college experience, I do not wish the same problems on incoming Freshmen or any other student for that matter. I have also experienced this issue from the angle of working for the University of Maryland as an innovation catalyst where it was my job help the university find better ways to build awareness around its resources and also help members of the Terrapin community access these resources as well. I personally believe anybody has the right and the responsibility to chase their dreams, so my mission to help them realize just how easy it can be to turn their dreams into a reality.
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
Parsadoust: I feel the collaborative community the Terp Startup program offers students is essential to our entrepreneurial success. Not only does the program offer students an opportunity to learn from each other but it also helps make it possible for students to drive awareness around different schools of thought and available resources to help each other succeed. The community provides a network that runs much deeper than just an opportunity to to learn from each other though, the community aspect of TerpStartup helps us student Entrepreneurs support each other emotionally as well, knowing the day to day struggles we experience in being entrepreneurs, having a team of people there to support us makes it all the more possible for us to keep our best feet forwards!
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Parsadoust: I am hoping to build out a platform that properly serves as a first release for students this coming semester to begin sharing their creative talents with the local community. I do not see this platform being anything too excessive, however I do believe the development process is a quintessential piece to this puzzle that I am not as familiar with it as I would like to be. Looking forward to getting one step closer to helping students chase their dreams!