DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
McLaughlin: My name is Gabi McLaughlin and I am a senior finance and management major. Joelle Anselmo my co-founder is a senior journalism and business management major.
DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
McLaughlin: We have been involved with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s Pitch Dingman Competition 2023. We have also come in for Dingman Advising.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
McLaughlin: Around the Block is a college apparel company that sells unique and sustainable clothing. These products provide a snapshot of College towns which invoke nostalgia and represent college from the students perspective.
DC: Who or what is your biggest influence for your startup?
McLaughlin: It is hard to pick just one! So many people have helped and inspired us along the way. Joelle and I have a professor named Steve Freishtat and I would say that so far he has left a very lasting influence on the business and us as entrepreneurs and people!
DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
McLaughlin: We originally had the idea for the map and instantly thought it would be fun to put the maps on tshirts. This is how we got into the apparel business. We would love to continue expanding into other merchandise.
DC: Now that you’ve won the Pitch Dingman Competition ‘23, what’s next for your company?
McLaughlin: We plan on expanding our company and ramping up production. In the past we did not have the resources to put in big orders and we’re falling short of demand. With the Pitch Dingman prize we can reach out potential at UMD and begin looking at product expansion and expansion to other Universities. We are also able to make lots of improvements on our marketing and online presence.
DC: As a student business owner, how do you define success?
McLaughlin: I am not sure if I have one solid definition yet for success. It changes every year for me right now as I’m going through different phases of life and school. I will be proud if ATB makes a lasting impact on campus communities and helps foster a more sustainable and philanthropic retail industry.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
McLaughlin: My first advice would be to just go for it! If you are ever hesitating about starting something try to start small and test it out and you may be surprised with what you find. I would also advise people to find mentors and surround themselves with a great support system to help them along the way.
To learn more about Around the Block, please visit the website here.