by: Hannah Shraim ’20 (Ladies First Founder and Dingman Center Marketing Intern)
Passion, tenacity, and courage — all three qualities are essential to being an entrepreneur. With that being said, those brave enough to take on the Herculean task must navigate through numerous obstacles. In a system that disproportionately excludes people of color from entrepreneurial spaces, and with the amount of struggle that entrepreneurs face by nature, it is paramount to uplift the voices of black entrepreneurs.
The Being Black in Entrepreneurship Fireside Chat on Feb. 26 from 6-8 p.m. in 2333 Van Munching Hall is supported by Maryland Smith’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, the Office of Diversity of Inclusion, the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Student Success Leadership Council. The event that will bring together black entrepreneurs for evening of discussion and breakout sessions. If you’re thinking of starting a business, this session will provide you with a toolkit that you can use to understand what it really means to be an entrepreneur. Register today!
There are some incredible speakers lined up for the evening — let’s take a quick look into their experiences:
Michael Echols ’87 – Founder and CEO of MAX Cybersecurity
Michael A. Echols (Mike) is a graduate of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative – Harvard Kennedy School of Public Health and the Federal Executive Institute. He holds a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Science in Biotechnology, a Graduate Certificate in Technology Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice; all from the University of Maryland. Mike is the CEO of Max Cybersecurity LLC. He launched the company after 7 years at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In 2015, Mr. Echols became the White House point person for the rollout of Presidential Executive Order 13691 – Promoting Private Sector Cyber Information Sharing. Most recently Mr. Echols authored five Forbes articles and was featured on a PBS cybersecurity special. Mr. Echols has also led two organizations to CSO 50 Award honors for information sharing in the last three years. He is currently on the Health and Human Services CISA Cyber Awareness Task Force.
Chad Hall ’10 – Founder and CEO of Remodelmate
Chad Hall is the Founder and CEO of Remodelmate, an innovative company that completely renovate your bathroom for $12K in 3 weeks. Remodelmate aims to use technology and transparency to save homeowners time and money while simultaneously allowing contractors to grow their businesses efficiently. Now in its third year of operation, Remodelmate has made major updates to its online platform and launched partnerships with interior design service Havenly for templated kitchen renovations and online personal finance company SoFi for project loans up to $100,000 with monthly repayments. Remodelmate just finished a successful seed round of $525,000 led by CoVenture with participation from MIT Alumni Angels of Washington, D.C., Dorm Room Fund and TEDCO. Hall studied International Business at Robert H. Smith Business School while at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Brittany McCoy ’16 – Founder and CEO of Brittany Christina Collection
Visionary, driven, and scrappy. Designer Brittany McCoy is a boss in her own right. At the age of 25, she already has 10+ years of experience in fashion and retail and is just getting started. At 14 she was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York City where she made her first dress. In 2013, after completing an inspirational design internship in her freshman year of college at UMD, Brittany launched her first brand, Dynasty By Brittany. She continued on to create a fashion nonprofit organization and founded the 1st Annual Fashion Week on the campus of her University. Brittany has been featured in several fashion events including DC Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. She hopes to empower other creatives to continue to pursue their passions. McCoy graduated from the Robert H. Smith School of Business with a dual degree in Marketing and Supply Chain.
Kendall McKoy ’16 – Founder and CEO of BRUNCH GODS
Kendall McKoy founded BRUNCH GODS the Summer of 2017. Stradling two planes as a brunch culture lifestyle brand and food service company, BRUNCH GODS pushes boundaries to provide customers with an innovative and memorable experience. BRUNCH GODS offers an array of services such as Pop Up restaurants, event catering, and delivery services. Kendall McKoy founded BRUNCH GODS as an extension of himself. He incorporates art and culture into every BRUNCH GODS experience along with his personal philosophy of always giving customers more than they expect. While providing the highest quality food service, BRUNCH GODS prides itself on innovating in every aspect understanding that food only makes part of an event. Now with his team, he seeks to shift the current landscape of food and culture in the DMV area. McKoy is one of the creators of For Terps By Terps and is the caterer of Being Black in Entrepreneurship: Fireside Chat. McKoy graduated with a dual degree in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Jasmine Snead ’17, MPP/MBA ’21 – Co-Founder and CFO of Aurora Tights
A proud triple Terp, Jasmine Snead graduated undergrad as a government and politics major and is now a joint MPP/MBA ’21 candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park. Jasmine Snead is a co-founder of Aurora Tights, an athletic apparel brand for performers in all shades and sizes. Growing up as a figure skater of color, Snead was disappointed with the lack of options for performance tights in her skin tone. Witnessing so many of her peers experience the same problem, inspired Snead to spearhead the solution. Together with her co-founders, Snead broke boundaries and filled an unmet need in the market by creating a size and shade inclusive line of ice skating and dance tights. She believes by giving performers the option to get tights in their unique skin color and size, Aurora Tights sends the message that ‘You DO belong in this sport.’ Through hard work, in just one year, Snead grew Aurora Tights from an MVP to Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, where her outstanding performance won her the grand prize of $15,000. This month Aurora Tights is competing in the Chicago Bulls Venture Competition. Snead won the Rudy Award: Student Entrepreneur of the Year and one of DC Inno’s 25 Under 25.
So there you have it, register to attend the event on February 26 from 6-8 pm in 2333 Van Munching Hall. We can’t wait to see you there!