Things are slowing down at the Smith School. Students are taking their last finals, and we’re finishing up work to prepare for a blissful holiday season ahead. So grab a cup of cocoa and take a trip with us down memory lane as we recap a fantastic fall semester of events, programs and more at the Dingman Center!
A Rise in the Rankings
University of Maryland rose in the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine’s rankings to #7 in undergraduate programming, and #3 for public universities. This marks our fifth consecutive year in the top 10! Read about the rankings here.
Sept. 10 – Bootstrapped Live in D.C.
To kick off the fall semester, we partnered with the Smith Alumni Association and the A. James Clark School of Engineering to produce a Bootstrapped Live alumni networking event at WeWork in D.C., with podcast hosts Holly DeArmond, MBA ’17 and Smith School Associate Research Professor Joe Bailey doing a live interview with Cvent co-founder & CTO David Quattrone, MBA ’05, and STEER Tech founder & CEO Anuja Sonalker ’06.
Sept. 28 – spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start
The 4th annual spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start in partnership with student-run incubator Startup Shell was a resounding success. On a Saturday morning, 120 students filled one of the innovation-friendly Edward St. John classrooms to come up with business ideas. Led by host Professor Oliver Schlake, students played several rounds of a card game designed to boost their entrepreneurial-thinking skills, then gave them time to hone that idea into a 60-second Billy Mays style sales pitch. Always iterating, the event was streamlined from previous years to maximize the time students spent interacting, connecting and growing their ideas. Learn more in these takes on spark from Smith News and student blog Stories Beneath the Shell.
Oct. 30 – Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series featuring Seth Goldman
Our keynote speaker of the fall semester Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series was Seth Goldman, the co-founder and Tea-EO emeritus of Honest Tea and executive chair of Beyond Meat. In an intimate conversation with distinguished alumnus Robert G. Hisaoka ’79, Seth spoke to a packed house at the Clarice’s Gildenhorn Recital Hall about the future of the food industry, the importance of weaving social impact into your business model and keys to balancing work and family as an entrepreneur. Following the plant-based food trend, shoutout to Dingman Center board member Jason Cohen of Halen Brands, who provided a variety of plant-based snacks for students to take on their way out. Read the Smith News recap of the event and watch the full talk on YouTube.
Nov. 6 – Ladies First Fall Dinner featuring Julia Brown ’13, Founder & CEO of MindX
Our 4th annual Ladies First Fall Dinner focused on a topic that many students are familiar with: Imposter Syndrome. Sara Herald, MBA ’11, the Dingman Center’s Director for Venture Development and champion of the Ladies First initiative to get more female and non-binary founders involved in entrepreneurship at University of Maryland, led a discussion and Q&A with alumna tech founder Julia Brown ’13. Brown discussed her neurotechnology startup MindX, offered tips for giving a confident pitch to a room full of male VCs and provided attendees with a candid take on balancing mental health and entrepreneurship. Read more takeaways from the event here.
Nov. 20 – Terp Marketplace
In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 18-22), the Dingman Center took over the grand atrium of Van Munching Hall for a Terp Marketplace featuring student entrepreneurs from across campus. Lucky student, faculty and staff attendees were able to buy sustainably-sourced clothing, delectable macarons, body scrubs and more. Even Maryland Today couldn’t help getting in the entrepreneurial spirit with this featured article about the event.
Nov. 22 – Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals
In our ultimate event of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Dingman Center hosted the semifinals event of Pitch Dingman Competition, our annual student business competition that gives away $30,000 in funding to talented University of Maryland entrepreneurs. Ten startups competed in Tyser Auditorium to a panel of expert judges and an audience of students enrolled in entrepreneurship classes. In the end, five startups were chosen to advance to the Finals, happening on Mar. 10, 2020: AlgenAir, Bracelint, Door Robotics, Hydraze and SweetsbyCaroline. Learn more about the semifinalists and finalists here.
Dec. 6 – Hult@UMD
Now in its second year, the Hult Prize at University of Maryland is a local edition of the global social entrepreneurship case competition. Students were asked to come up with business ideas that would have a positive impact on the planet with every dollar earned. Winners of the local competition would advance to a regional round, where they will compete for a chance to pitch their idea to the United Nations and receive $1 million to fund their business. The winner of Hult@UMD was Hydraze, a student startup with an engineered solution to reduce water waste produced by automatic flushing toilets. Learn more about Hult@UMD and the finalists here.
Terp Startup Fellows – Program Pilot
Thanks to a generous donation from Dingman Center board chair Bill Boyle ’81, in November we launched the Terp Startup Fellows, a pilot program intended as a continuation of the Center’s Terp Startup summer Accelerator. The program features four key elements: non-dilutive seed funding up to $20,000, access to office space, advising and network access. Congratulations to NuroSTREAM and Savvy Tech on being the first Terp Startup Fellows accepted into the program!
One Friday a month after Dingman Fridays advising sessions end at 1 p.m., we host an informal Pitch Practice in the Dingman Center Bullpen. Students who sign up get feedback on their business pitch, no decks required. Practicing your elevator pitch, your sales pitch or your venture pitch is essential to being an entrepreneur. Come get feedback and encouragement in a friendly space. Sign up for the Dingman Fridays newsletter to be notified about the next Pitch Practice session.
In case you needed another reason to apply for Terp Startup or Startup Shell: Terp Startup alumni and Startup Shell cohort members are invited once a month to an exclusive Founders Forum at the Board and Brew in College Park. Entrepreneurs who attend discuss the highs and lows of their journey, share resources and find community. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, so if you’ve been a part of Terp Startup or Startup Shell, feel free to stop by for some coffee and congeniality!
New Bootstrapped Episodes
Bootstrapped: A Dingman Center Podcast, now in its seventh season, has launched four episodes this semester, including today’s episode featuring Lauren Filocco of OpenBarre! Here are the other three you should definitely catch up on (if you’re not hooked already):
Episode 53: Turning Passion for Politics Into a Thriving Business
Special Guest: Andy Shallal, MBA ’19, founder of Busboys and Poets
Shallal discusses his motivations for starting Busboys and Poets, how his passion for democracy became the bedrock of the business, and the challenges he’s faced in building Busboys and Poets to what is is today and what it can soon become.
Episode 54: Serial Entrepreneur Turns Struggle to Scalable Spices
Special Guest: Ori Zohar ’07, Co-Founder of Burlap & Barrel
QUEST alumnus and serial entrepreneur Ori Zohar discusses the launch of his current endeavor, Burlap & Barrel, and how a fascination with cumin lead to the first comprehensive single-origin spice company in the United States.
Episode 55: Building a Kombucha Brand with Mobtown Fermentation
Special Guest: Sergio Malarin ’13, founder of Mobtown Fermentation
Founder Sergio Malarin reveals how he used supply chain and community engagement to build his kombucha brand, Wild Kombucha, and discusses where he hopes to take Mobtown Fermentation in the future.