On Thursday, July 28th the Dingman Center’s Terp Startup Accelerator 2022 cohort gathered for Demo Day. During the event which was held at the in the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, each cohort member delivered a five-minute venture pitch that they have been developing all summer.
With more than 100 in-person attendees and 50 additional individuals joining online, Demo Day had a fantastic turnout–and even better energy. This year’s pitches were creative, engaging, and a perfect display of the progress everyone made since the beginning of the accelerator.
“The best part of demo day was seeing the growth that everyone else in the rest of the cohort achieved. It was awesome to watch them present their ideas in full and I was blown away by how awesome everyone was,” said Josh Doying, founder of Bedtime Sports.
Demo Day is not only a way for the entire cohort to display their acceleration, but also a chance for select members to win prizes that fund their startup. This year, it was up to the audience to choose winners for certain prizes using ‘Dingman Dollars’. The audience was able to “invest” these ‘Dingman Dollars’ into their favorite companies, and at the end of the event, ventures with the highest “investments” received a shared prize, totaling $1,000. The breakdown of the Audience Choice Award was the following:
- $192.50 – Sparza LLC
- $149.06 – Arch Dash
- $136.64 – ReGlass
- $130.04 – Bedtime Sports
- $111.80 – UCleaner
- $99.30 – JuJu
- $86.90 – EMPIRE 242
- $74.50 – Em G Art Design Studio
- $12.40 – Omega 3
- $6.21 – WaveLi
Although each member in the cohort displayed growth of their business throughout TSA, the following were selected as main prize winners, each prize totaling $1,000:
- Customer Discovery Prize: UCleaner
- Go-to-Market Prize: Arch Dash
- Path to Product Market Fit: JuJu Food Delivery
- Cohort Choice: Bedtime Sports
- Staff Choice: Sparza LLC
Pitches were assessed by an incredible panel of guest judges: the Dingman Center’s own managing director, Holly DeArmond, and academic director, Brent Goldfarb, Alla McCoy, the director of startup support at UM Ventures, Bill Bentley, the director of the Fischell Institute, Dean Chang, UMD’s interim chief innovation officer, and Kory Bailey, the director of relationship development at UpSurge Baltimore.
Whether a team won a prize or not, Demo Day was a success for everyone involved. Each venture had an opportunity to deliver a live venture pitch to a packed audience and network with the Dingman Center’s startup community.
“My favorite part of demo day was pitching,” said Ina Kovacheva, founder of Arch Dash. “Although it was very nerve-wracking, it was also very exciting since it was my first live pitch; the follow-up networking, and learning how what we are trying to do resonates with others was also very memorable, and the prizes were very fun!”
Despite many businesses preparing for their pitch in different ways, the Dingman Center team was able to provide continuous support, which catered to the specific needs of each of them.
“I practiced my Demo Day pitch over 30 times with my co-founder Kyle Sznoluch,” said Ryan Myer co-founder of Sparza. “Holly and the team were also incredibly helpful in giving us feedback on our pitch presentation.”
“Lottie and Tsega helped make the pitch more efficient and concentrate on the main topics by reducing a 19-page deck to a 13-page deck,” said Weixiang Wang, co-founder of JuJu Food Delivery.
After eight weeks of detailed, hands-on training, Demo Day was a bittersweet way to commemorate TSA coming to an end. The experience was a fun and memorable way for cohort members to reflect on their time in the program and see how far they have come with their startups.
“At the base level, TSA provided us with numerous workshops, mentors and resources to put together our final pitch deck, said Robert Choe, co-founder of UCleaner. “However, the program provided us with a great platform to execute our customer validation process and helped us reach a promising product-market fit.”