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.
The DMV Come Up
Founder & CEO: Sadia Alao ’20, Marketing & Theater Double Major
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Alao: The DMV Come Up is a nonprofit, college-age run, DMV-based creative multimedia production collective for people of color that produces imaginative and original content. Young minority creatives are currently inaccurately and stereotypically represented in the media industry from the angry black woman, the welfare queen to the latino high school dropout and impoverished Native American. I also know firsthand that many of us in the DMV don’t have the resources, network, or support system to nurture our creative talents. We’re aiming to empower young underrepresented creatives in the multimedia industry to create the content they want to see in the world and understand that it does not have to be done alone.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Alao: I feel the idea has always been sitting in the back of my mind. I’m a marketing and theater major and have always had a love of creation and mixed media forms. When I was younger I wanted to be an actor, but I didn’t know how or where to start. I always wished I was in Hollywood. When I got to college, I realized that roles for girls that looked liked me were far and few in between. If I wanted to see my myself, I’d have to create myself, so I started writing. The dream of acting turned into a dream of ownership and understanding that it could be done where I am right now. Thus, The DMV Come Up was born.
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Alao: A big milestone for me was realizing that I could even start this collective now. My dream has always been to someday head my own media production company highlighting the victories, successes, and coming-of-age stories of people of color. I was under the mindset that I had to wait for this to happen through building credibility, a strong network, and a name for myself. While I still agree with these things, that doesn’t mean I can’t start the journey at the age of 21. Imposter syndrome is real and overcoming that hurdle is hard. I started forming the groundwork for this venture just 3 weeks ago after having to pivot my business completely from what it was coming into the program and I’m proud of my stamina and openness to unexpected change.
DC: What drives you to keep going?
Alao: What drives me to keep going is knowing that I am doing this for my community and knowing the social impact this can bring to DMV youth and young adults. I want to highlight the need for collaboration instead of competition among creators. I want someone in Ohio to say “I can’t wait till I can go to DC and make my dreams come true!” Not LA or New York, but DC. We have so many talented photographers, videographers, poets, models, etc. right in our backyard and our talents need to be highlighted and appreciated. We have to work together to make the DMV the future multimedia hub of America.
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
Alao: I am very humbled and excited to be working with such a talented and eclectic group of people. I’m so appreciative of being able to form a network with entrepreneurs who are working towards being their own boss and solving problems along the way. Community always inspires me to be great.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Alao: I want to gain a nexus of mentors, peers, and resources in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as understand the plethora of aspects that go into getting an early stage startup to the growth phase. I want to learn how to formulate a strong business model. The biggest thing I want to achieve is learning how to take risks and combat my fears.