Spring 2020 will be remembered forever as the season that brought COVID-19 to our lives. This has been a tumultuous time for everyone, and no less for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship community. We would like to take a moment to look back on our successes this spring, both in-person and virtual, and to thank the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners for their perseverance in a pandemic and their dedication to showcasing the best in entrepreneurship at University of Maryland. We are proud to see our founders continuing to thrive, and look forward to the opportunities of creating a virtual Terp Startup accelerator cohort this summer.
Successful Events & Webinars
Feb. 19 – Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series: Founders Panel
The eighth installment in our Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series featured a panel comprised entirely of Terp entrepreneurs: Jasmine Snead ’17, MPP/MBA ’21 of Aurora Tights, Zeki Mokhtarzada ’00 of Truebill and Webs, Inc., and Rob McGovern ’83 of PreciseTarget and Careerbuilder.com. Though these founders come from different backgrounds and industries, each were able to connect with a room filled with aspiring student entrepreneurs about their experiences at Maryland and their journeys to founding companies. Read a recap and takeaways here.
Feb. 26 – Being Black in Entrepreneurship Fireside Chat
Spearheaded by the Committee for Diversity of Inclusion, the Dingman Center in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Student Success Leadership Council hosted the Being Black in Entrepreneurship Fireside Chat, a sold-out event featuring yet another all-Terp founders panel, including Michael Echols ’87 (MAX Cybersecurity), Chad Hall ’10 (Remodelmate), Brittany McCoy ’16 (Brittany Christina Collection), Kendall McKoy ’16 (BRUNCH GODS), Jasmine Snead ’17, MPP/MBA ’21 (Aurora Tights). The panelists explored the challenges they have all faced as founders of color, and shared highlights from their founder journeys. Read highlights from Smith News here.
Apr. 22 – Virtual Pitch Dingman Competition Finals
Originally scheduled for March 10 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union, Pitch Dingman Competition was our first and toughest cancellation of COVID-19. Our team was determined to produce a virtual edition of the competition that would give these talented founders a proper platform to showcase the results of their months of hard work and preparation. With live pitches and Q&A from the judges and a standout halftime show from Maryland Smith professor Oliver Schlake, we are proud to say the Virtual Pitch Dingman Competition delivered on its promise to entertain and show off the best in entrepreneurship at University of Maryland. Read about the highlights and winners in this article from Maryland Today and watch the full recording on YouTube.
Apr. 24 – Sustainable from the Start: Building Sustainability into Your Startup from the Ground Up
In honor of Earth Week on Apr. 24, we partnered with the Center for Social Value Creation, the Mid-Atlantic B-Corps community and Bethesda Green to bring you Sustainable from the Start, a webinar featuring Drew Bewick ’88 (Managing Director of Tree House Ventures), Sophia Maroon (Founder and CEO of Dress It Up Dressing), and Joe Marhamati (Co-Founder of Ipsun Solar) discussing the role of sustainability in entrepreneurship, moderated by Professor Roxanne Lefkoff. Watch the full recording here.
Moving Programs & Courses Virtual
The Dingman Center pivoted quickly to offer many of our courses, programs and experiences in a virtual format. In addition to Pitch Dingman Competition and our Sustainable from the Start webinar, we moved our New Venture Practicum and Ladies First Founders courses online, offered virtual Dingman Fridays advising hours, ran a Dingman Center Angels meeting via Zoom, and now plan to move our summer Terp Startup Accelerator to a virtual format. We are excited for the opportunities that lie in creating virtual offerings within our existing programs.
Launched Dingman TV
The requirement that events be virtual led to some exciting innovations. For example, when we realized that we would no longer be able to host Terp Marketplace, our event for students to showcase and sell their products and services in Van Munching Hall, we came up with a fun virtual alternative: Dingman TV. Inspired by an assignment in the New Venture Practicum class led by Oliver Schlake, this channel features infomercials produced by student entrepreneurs in our network. There are currently three videos up on Dingman TV, with plans to launch more over the summer as a way to feature students participating in Terp Startup. Read more about Dingman TV in Maryland Today.
New Bootstrapped Episodes
This spring, we launched seven new episodes of Bootstrapped: A Dingman Center Podcast, our podcast featuring founders and funders in our network. The most recent featured Oliver Schlake discussing what entrepreneurs should be focusing on in order to sustain their businesses through COVID-19.
Episode 62: Coping with COVID: How to Sustain a Business During Quarantine
Special Guest: Oliver Schlake, Clinical Professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business
Schlake discusses adapting a venture to our changing economy and planning ahead for life after quarantine. In our conversation, we learn how entrepreneurs can prioritize their business operations and optimize their time to sustain their business in an uncertain future.
Episode 61: How to be a Startup Millionaire: Lessons from a Serially Successful Entrepreneur
Special Guest: Harry Geller ’81, Investor/Serial Entrepreneur/Startup Mentor
We sat down with our entrepreneur-in-residence Harry Geller ’81, who has over forty years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and mentor. Geller shares invaluable insights and real-world advice from his experience turning his startup Global Mail into a 60 million dollar success.
Episode 60: The Y Combinator Effect: From Dorm Room Hustle to Thriving Business
Special Guest: Aaron Epstein ’03, Founder & CEO, Creative Market
Epstein details how he was able to turn his business Creative Market from a dorm room hustle into a thriving business through his experiences at Y Combinator in Silicon Valley, where he is now a Partner.
Episode 59: Building a Beauty Brand without the BS
Special Guest: Mary Schulman ’97, Co-founder & CEO, PYT Beauty
Maryland Smith alumna Mary Schulman ’97 discusses her entrepreneurial journey as the founder and CEO of PYT Beauty, a makeup brand that offers beauty without the BS, that is, without the harsh chemicals contained in beauty products that can be toxic to the skin. As a founder with a prior successful exit, she discusses the challenges and rewards of launching a startup in a new industry.
Episode 58: Growing College Magazine from a Student Project to Nationwide Publication
Special guest: Amanda Nachman ’07, Founder & CEO, College Magazine
Tune in to learn how Nachman built her online platform, College Magazine, as a project for the QUEST Honors Program before winning Cupid’s Cup and turning it into a nationally recognized publication reaching over nine million users.
Episode 57: From Finance to Fast Casual: Building a Restaurant Chain
Special Guest: Sahil Rahman ’12, Co-Founder of RASA
Smith alumni finance major Sahil Rahman discusses how he and his childhood best friend and fellow UMD alum, Rahul Vinod ’11, followed the footsteps of their restaurateur fathers and started RASA, an Indian fast-casual restaurant chain that’s making waves in the D.C. food scene.