This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 11 student startups who are participating in our first in-person Terp Startup summer accelerator since 2020. Participating student entrepreneurs will receive a stipend up to $5,000 that will enable them to work exclusively on their startups over the next eight weeks.
Co-founders: Robert Choe PhD ’23, Bioengineering. Blake Kuzemchak ’23, Bioengineering. Erfan Jabari ’22, Bioengineering.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Choe: Our startup revolves around the UCleaner device that is an all-in-one autoflosser for people undergoing dental braces treatment.
DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Choe: As UMD has a great entrepreneurial community and resources, we all had a nascent desire to explore the startup scene on campus. However, the inception of this particular startup idea began in the fall of 2021.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Choe: We don’t have one specific big influence. Rather, being bioengineers, we are motivated by our desire to solve big problems in the healthcare space. We identified a problem area in the dental space and began working to make it a viable startup.
DC: What makes your business unique?
Choe: We are the only product that aims to design a comprehensive full-mouth oral hygiene product specifically for dental braces wearers.
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Choe: We started this venture in January. So far, the biggest accomplishment for our team is that we have narrowed down our product-market fit. We have plenty of work to do so continue validating our product-market fit further and actually initiate product testing in the near future.
DC: When it comes to your startup, how do you define success?
Choe: We aim to make the UCleaner device a requisite oral hygiene product for dental braces wearers.
DC: What do you feel that you have achieved from participating in Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Choe: We did the most significant customer discovery during the TSA. The TSA provided the framework, resources, and mentors to really execute the customer validation process. It was an invaluable experience and we would highly recommend any aspiring UMD student entrepreneur to participate in the TSA.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Choe: Once you have an idea and form your initial product/customer hypotheses, stop thinking and start doing. Talk to people about your idea, go to start-up gatherings, etc. It may be daunting at first, but take baby steps and keep at it. Successful ventures do not take months but years to develop. The most important thing is that you need to start somewhere.
To learn more about UCleaner, please visit the website here.