Senior Send-Off: Ladies First Founders

In our Senior Send-Off series, the Dingman Center celebrates the student founders who are part of the graduating class of spring 2020. We are so pleased to have had the chance to get to know each of these talented entrepreneurs through our programs. 

Ladies First headshots

From left: Jessica Rosenthal, Monica Pizzo, Hannah Shraim, Lucy Bedewi, Dana Hashem

Ladies First Founders

Lucy Bedewi ’20 (Cohort 3), Marketing major, founder of Wanderlust Wardrobe
Dana Hashem ’20 (Cohort 2), Neuroscience major, founder of Care for a Terp
Monica Pizzo ’20 (Cohort 3), Chinese Language major, founder of LUMXN
Jessica Rosenthal ’20 (Cohort 1), Mechanical engineering major, founder of Good Stuff Good Works
Hannah Shraim ’20 (Cohort 3), Business management major, founder of Libre Looks

Today is the final day of classes for cohort 3 of Ladies First Founders, our course for female and non-binary founders to gain the necessary business skills and soft skills to successfully launch a startup. We sat down with some past and present cohort members who are graduating this spring to touch base on their ventures, their post-graduation plans and learn more about how they grew during and after the course.

What are your plans after graduation?

Lucy Bedewi: My plans after graduation are to see where the state of the world is with regard to the pandemic, but give my time to growing my business. 

Dana Hashem: After graduation I plan to go to grad school for neuroscience research! It will be hard & a lot of work, but I know it will be worth it in the end.

Monica Pizzo: At first, I thought I would just find a job and pursue marketing and graphic design after I graduated and work my way through my new career. But now, in light of recent events, it actually led me to reevaluate what I care most about and what I find the most joy in. While I am applying for jobs now, specifically in graphic design and marketing, I will also be seeking and applying to opportunities for a Masters in Human Computer Interaction programs. 

Jessica Rosenthal: I will be working for Rivian as a Controls Integration Engineer in Southern California. 

Hannah Shraim: I’m hoping to study for the LSAT and get a legal-related job. After one or two years, I’m planning to attend law school and pursue a career relating to human rights advocacy. 

What’s one thing you’ll miss the most about UMD?

Lucy Bedewi: I’ll miss all of the people and the laughs we shared going to events and hanging out on the weekends.

Dana Hashem: I don’t know if I can choose one thing, UMD was my undergrad! But, I will miss hanging out on Mckeldin mall to study or eat & relax with friends, the adrenaline rush in the stands of Capital One & Xfinity stadium; & definitely the opportunities & memories that my home college & Smith gave me during my time there.

Monica Pizzo: I’ll miss the amazing community that I’ve built and also was at my disposal at UMD. Up until my last moments on campus, I was constantly meeting new people who were pushing me in different directions and inspiring me by their own aspirations. I’ll miss this constant flow of ideas and inspiration that these new people gave to me. 

Jessica Rosenthal: I’m going to miss living next door to some of my best friends! 

Hannah Shraim: Beyond an education, UMD has given me relationships that I couldn’t dream of living without. I will miss spending time with my closest friends in SORC and making moves to see them every week. It’s a special experience to spend time with people who are closest to you. 

What’s your favorite memory from Ladies First Founders?

Lucy Bedewi: My favorite memory has been class time. I love seeing everyone’s progress every week and sharing not only tips but also wild stories from the past week. 

Dana Hashem: Growing closer together as a group of like-minded entrepreneurial women and meeting our mentors.

Monica Pizzo: My favorite memory from Ladies First are our little side conversations that we have before or after events or class. This is when I realize that we are all there to help each other and support one another by giving advice, giving contacts, or giving help in our own ways. I really love having the community of like-minded, powerful women who are so capable and driven. I’m really glad I did this in my last semester, because I needed a new invigoration in my academic career and professional career to keep me inspired and motivated, and Ladies First really gave me that. 

Jessica Rosenthal: My favorite memory from LFF: On the first day, Sara gave an awesome presentation that led to an engaging discussion about all our experiences as women in entrepreneurship. Walking home that night, I remember feeling a sense of comfort, knowing that I had just met a community of women that are now rooting for me.  

Hannah Shraim: The overwhelming feeling of not being alone as an entrepreneur. There were many moments over the semester where I felt self-doubt and my fellow cohort members immediately lifted me up. It’s incredible to know that a community of strong and motivated women can serve as your entrepreneurial support system. 

What’s the current state of the business you worked on as a Ladies First Founder?

Lucy Bedewi: I’m currently growing. I’m releasing new content, finding brands to partner with and bringing women into my community. Through one on one styling and different channels to get styling advice, I’m making sure every woman is able to have a personal stylist in her life. 

Dana Hashem: It is physically on hold, while I work on bettering & improving the idea to make it more sustainable. But I am implementing it through other avenues. 

Monica Pizzo: Currently, we are in our final stages of designing our magazine, we go through a few different draft stages and we’re working to get the last one out on April 23rd. We had to postpone due to the pandemic, but we’re using this extra time to really make it as good as we can. We’re also developing a website landing page and a more robust Instagram presence. 

Jessica Rosenthal: Unfortunately, my project ended, but I still keep in touch with everyone who’s helped me along the way! 

Hannah Shraim: Currently looking at ways to pivot the idea! There’s more coming, it will just require some planning.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with future Ladies First Founders?

Lucy Bedewi: Balance your time as best as you can. Even if you only work on your business for 30 minutes a day, those 30 minutes add up. If you’re on the flip side and your business is all you think about, make sure you take time to step away from it and completely disconnect for the evening. 

Dana Hashem: Embrace every opportunity with an open mind & be confident in your ideas & dreams…we live & we learn. Last thing you want is to say, ‘I wish I would’ve done or said this’. Go to the business events, network, everyone is somewhat nervous; but no one knows you like you!

Monica Pizzo: Even if you think your idea isn’t fleshed out or isn’t worth pursuing, it absolutely is! Stick with it, if you’re passionate and you talk about your ideas at Ladies First, the only thing you’re going to be met with is encouragement and advice from your peers and Sara Herald, who are all so amazing and willing to help in any way they can. You belong there, so own that and welcome the incredible group you’re going to be part of. 

Jessica Rosenthal:  Get pumped. You’re building your network of amazing women! 

Hannah Shraim: Don’t be afraid to START! Even if you don’t know anything about the industry, even if you’re busy with school, even if your idea isn’t fully fleshed. If you have an idea and the motivation to see where it takes you, start your journey – even if it’s just a company to-do list. Know that you are an entrepreneur even if you don’t have an “established” company yet. What makes you an entrepreneur is the grind and your willingness to persevere (and even pivot) through the inevitable challenges that will come your way. 

Leave a Reply