Author Archives: UMD Dingman Center

Feature Friday! Prommuni

Bradley Mascarenhas ’21 co-founded Prommuni with Karsh Patel ’21.

DC: What are your names, majors, minors, and graduation years?
Mascarenhas: My name is Bradley Mascarenhas and I completed my undergraduate degrees in Finance and Information Systems with a minor in Real Estate Development. I graduated this past Spring with the class of 2021, and I have enrolled into the Information Systems Master of Science program at the University of Maryland with an expected graduation date of May 2022. [UMD ‘21]

My co-founder’s name is Karsh Patel and he completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and double minored in Tech Entrepreneurship and Mathematics. [UMD ‘21]

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Mascarenhas: Our startup is the first co-living social network for professionals. Our platform helps professionals to relocate to new places by connecting them to others to build roommate groups and find housing all in one.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Mascarenhas: I always possessed business-minded qualities and frequently enjoyed team building towards a common goal. During my first year of high school, I felt like I did not have anything purposeful to do other than being a student. I eventually decided to start building my personal brand and take lead in my school’s Academy of Finance. I also got involved with several ventures from private loan financing to drone technology. However, these ventures did not organically originate from me, so I knew it would not be my true calling. By the time I finished high school, I was voted “Most Likely To Be a Millionaire” and I thought that was what was important to me, but that ended up being far from true. I later realized in college that my purpose was really to have an impact on my generation. Personally, building a better world is a compelling enough reason to take all the risk that comes with entrepreneurship. The efforts you put in can impact thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people. And this is what drives me now. Problems that I face now which are shared by many others.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Mascarenhas: The biggest influence for my startup is Justin Kan. He is the Founder of Twitch TV. He has a nice story of coming up with ideas and selling it to an investor he knew. He had a successful exit after a couple years and now Twitch is thriving even more and changed the gaming community forever. Additionally, he now has plenty of time to coach startups and teach the youth about best practices as an entrepreneur and professional. He also decided not to get back into startups so that he could work on himself and build stronger relationships with his family and friends and that’s a point in life that I aspire to reach. The other influence is Elon Musk who believes that time on Earth should be spent solving problems and doing things bigger than yourself.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Mascarenhas: The pandemic has pushed us to be resilient as a company by continuing to stay efficient and motivate our team even when we do not have the privilege of meeting in person frequently. We have adapted to online communication through Slack and Zoom and doing frequent team syncs to stay up to date. For our platform, it has not impacted us being a software service, but we have had to keep in mind people’s fear of COVID. As things return to a new normal, we are seeing people’s comfortability levels rising for renting which is a good timing for our platform’s entrance. We have been monitoring real estate market prices and activity, rent prices, renter activity, job markets, and more because those are all variables for the attractiveness of our platform. 

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Mascarenhas: I have a lot of great updates for the Dingman team and community. The big one for us is we’re ready to launch our MVP at the start of August, marking one full year since we’ve started working on this venture. This is our biggest milestone yet and we are very happy that we did it cost-effectively with less than $4k spent, including legal. We have also grown our team to include a part time graphic designer, a part time quality assurance analyst, and a programmer. We are currently looking to grow our team by one programmer and add a Director of Real Estate Partnerships for the upcoming semester. We have also narrowed down a good product roadmap for our business to follow in terms of feature releases to grow users and engagement on the platform. Lastly, we have identified a target niche for us to pursue initially which is small landlords ranging from 0-100 units.

DC: What do you feel that you have achieved from participating in Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Mascarenhas: We accomplished a lot this Summer from the efforts of the Dingman team as they guided us through the accelerator and oversaw the step-by-step developments of our individual ventures. The big three items for us were the financial models, the pitch deck, and mentorship insight into business model and MVP launch approach. For financial models, we did not have a solid template to forecast everything prior to this program. After receiving it, we were able to get that done finally. It is 100% subject to change due to the fact we will be editing our pricing approach but it’s awesome that it won’t take much effort to change our models. For our pitch deck, we had one done but it has significantly improved in both design and content due to us preparing well in advance for accelerator presentations. Lastly, our mentor Zeki has been phenomenal in sharing his CTO best practices as well as his recommendations for launching our platform. He has also given us thoughts about potential roadmap ideas. Regarding our overarching view of the program, it has been amazing. The atmosphere is very productive and organized due to the quality of participants and Dingman staff. I would recommend this to any Terp looking to grow their venture at a pre-financing stage. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Mascarenhas: I have a lot of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. The first is to set small goals. What we’re doing is large in nature and can feel overwhelming at times, however, when you set small goals and take it week-by-week you realize that it’s fun and it progresses rather quick. I also recommend seeking mentorship and a small circle of trustworthy friends to bounce ideas. It helps if those friends are end users because they can share perspectives of technical or business requirements needed for your product that you do not have. Lastly, keep participating in school programs to support your venture. Some areas of a program may not seem as attractive but even reiteration has great benefits for you. The support is almost always free with genuine co-participants and staff that want to see you succeed.

For more information about Prommuni, please visit the website here.

MPLEX: Where Are They Now?

Galen Stetsyuk (right) and Mike Sorokin (left) co-founded MPLEX in 2015.

Galen Stetsyuk and Mike Sorokin met freshman year as undergraduate students at the University of Maryland, College Park, and soon after co-founded MPLEX in December 2015. Both avid gamers frustrated by the subpar options available within the Virtual Reality Industry, Stetsyuk intended to form “a virtual reality video game company creating a game worth getting a VR headset for.” MPLEX’s goal was to create a technology to tackle the current challenges associated with VR games and experiences, including but not limited to simulation sickness.

Stetsyuk and Sorokin were highly involved with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship while they attended the University of Maryland. MPLEX evolved from its initial idea through various Dingman Center programs including Terp Startup Accelerator, Dingman Fridays, and Pitch Dingman Competition. Although the MPLEX team didn’t place at the 2017 competition they entered, they remain grateful for the support and connections made along the way, which helped contribute to the funding they received later on.

Stetsyuk and Sorokin now work full-time on building their company, along with 10 other people they have added to their team, almost all of whom are former UMD students. This growth has been made possible by the second funding round the company just closed, amounting to a total investment of $1.2 million to date. While the co-founders are no longer students themselves, the team hasn’t strayed far from the University of Maryland, as they currently operate out of an incubator space within Mtech. MPLEX also tries to get UMD students involved with their company whenever possible. The company is currently planning an in-person esports tournament to take place on October 16th at the Antonov Auditorium on the University of Maryland, College Park campus. The event will be free for all students to attend and will feature live gaming and other interactive experiences for students to trial.

MPLEX’s main focus lately has been on launching Core Disruption, the company’s debut VR game, which uses simulation sickness reduction technology. The game is a vehicular-based competitive multiplayer experience that has high-fidelity graphics and sound quality, deep player progression, customization, and offers a wide variety of options for different playstyles. Those anxious to purchase the game will have to be patient, as Stetsyuk estimates a rollout through digital distribution by the end of the year, or early 2022. In the meantime, interested students should mark their calendars now for MPLEX’s October 16th esports tournament for a sneak peak.

Feature Friday! North Star Toys & Such

North Star Toys & Such offers a diverse set of dolls and children’s books to to help children with emotional and social development.

Mat Parsons, MBA ’22 (far right) and Daniel Yu, MBA ’22 (far left) are the co-founders of North Star Toys & Such.

DC: What are your names, majors, and anticipated graduation years?
Daniel Yu, MBA, Marketing, 2022 and Mathew Parsons, MBA, Consulting & Finance, 2022.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Yu: North Star Toys & Such seeks to equip parents with the resources to teach their children social and emotional management skills. We have a flagship product of a diverse set of dolls and a children’s book teaching kids all about emotions. We wish to be the one-stop shop for resources on social skills development and emotional intelligence for all parents with young children.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?

Yu: I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur at an early age and when I heard of the Pitch Dingman Competition during my time in the MBA program, I knew I had to enter. We are grateful for the Fearless Ideas track, which helped turn our entrepreneurial dreams into a reality.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Yu: Shark Tank. I watched Shark Tank religiously for years. Without that show and witnessing people succeed with their start-ups, I would have never tried to take this challenge on.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Yu: Since we could not attend trade shows and in-person events to promote our company and product, we really had to leverage social media and e-commerce to market ourselves. It’s been a learning curve to understand all about SEO optimization and hashtag strategy.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Yu: Our first doll prototypes are ready for shipment from China, we finalized our children’s book manuscript, and we’re launching on Kickstarter in a month. Our website is also a week or two away from launching.

DC: What do you feel that you have achieved from participating in Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Yu: Through market research and consumer interviews, we began to understand more deeply about our target customer and their buying preferences, which has helped us tremendously in developing our prototypes.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Yu: The entrepreneurship life is all about self-discipline. When you’re your own boss, you dictate your own terms – so make sure you find a good balance between working hard and playing harder. 

Feature Friday! Mindgrasp.io

Thai Cao ’23 (above) and Rushil Joshi ’23 are the co-founders of Mindgrasp.io.

DC: What are your names, majors, and anticipated graduation years?
Rushil Joshi – Computer  Science, 2023
Thai Cao – Computer Science, 2023

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Joshi and Cao: We are a web app that uses A.I. to help students study in a more efficient manner by providing the necessary tools to succeed.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Joshi and Cao: We wanted to create a startup when we won our hackathon freshman year, and we realized our ideas could become a sustainable reality.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Joshi and Cao: This summer we have had access to numerous connections and resources. Our coach and Lottie are the biggest influences for our startup. We were able to receive great advice from both and they always kept us on our feet.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Joshi and Cao: We thought that our idea was versatile since the school migrated to an online environment.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Joshi and Cao: We have started a closed beta. Now, users can start using our application after sign up.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve, or what have you already achieved, from participating in Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Joshi and Cao: Prior we had hoped to receive wisdom from multiple successful entrepreneurs who have tapped into a market similar to ours. Now, we have received more than that! We are happy to have a quality coach connected to us by the accelerator and the ability to talk to so many guest speakers.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Joshi and Cao: Cliche as it sounds, never give up. Take the path slow but steady. Becoming an entrepreneur is not easy and there will be sleepless nights, just be prepared.

For more information about Mindgrasp.io, please visit the website here.

Feature Friday! MARS Technology

Professor Dongxia Liu and Xiaohui (Sophie) Li, MBA ’21 are the co-founders of MARS Technology.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Li: Xiaohui (Sophie) Li, MBA, Graduated 2021

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Li: As the climate change issues hit the media at an unprecedented rate, we want to help to prevent global warming by commercializing a methane conversation technology that can not only help methane emitters reduce greenhouse gas emission but also provide some value-adding products for their operations.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Li: When I was in the full-time MBA program, we studied different industries and analyzed difficult business cases all the time. As I explored different career paths after graduation, a friend of mine came to me with a research project which has a great potential for commercialization. I felt excited to be able to use what I learned to make strategic decisions and steer the future of a real company. So we worked on the startup ever since. And I hope to develop both personally and professionally through my entrepreneurial journey.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Li: Dingman Center has a great influence on my startup. Not to mention the prize from the Pitch Dingman Competition and funding from Terp Startup Accelerator. Dingman Center introduces many area experts and successful entrepreneurs to me. The journey through different programs makes me understand the entrepreneur path, structure my startup in a concrete way, it even improved my project management skill and self-awareness.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Li: Our company is a product of the pandemic, the social restrictions brought my partner and me together to work on the project remotely. And the virtual environment actually makes it more convenient for me to participate in different entrepreneur-focused workshops and accelerators.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Li: Our startup came from a concept to a more realistic venture. As we talk with more and more mentors, industry experts, potential customers, and investors, our business model and market fit become more and more clear. We also establish a strategy going forward and plans for our funding application.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Li: I am hoping to primarily get into the startup circle and have some support along my venturing journey. I also hope to refine my business model and get a better market fit through primary and secondary research. Lastly, I have objectives to polish the pitch deck and business plan, as well as get the logo and website in place.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Li: Even a successful entrepreneurial career may not be as glorious as people think. Be prepared for the humble inquiries and a roller coaster journey. However, it is highly rewarding to bring an idea to the market and see how you can make a difference in the world. So keep hustling!

Feature Friday! Lydia Liriano

These candles are part of Lydia Liriano’s self-care product line for Black women.
Nishelle Oglesby ’21

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Oglesby: My name is Nishelle Oglesby. I recently graduated with my communications degree this past May.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your start-up?
Oglesby: Lydia Liriano is a lifestyle brand dedicated to providing rich self-care experiences for Black women to benefit their mental and physical health. 

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Oglesby: I wanted to create a start-up when I felt the want to create something that was of my own creativity and lacked limitations created by others. My idea for Lydia Liriano only came after experiencing hardship myself and learning how detrimental stress can be particularly for Black women. 

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Oglesby: The biggest influence on my start-up is the women in my family who came before me. I am a product of hardworking AfroLatina and African American women. The women in my family always put others before themselves, sacrificed, and were very hardworking. Hardworking Black women are my inspiration for improving the quality of self-care and advocating for self-care because they truly deserve it.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Oglesby: The pandemic emphasized the importance and necessity of self-care. Additionally, the pandemic highlighted racial disparities that worsen the mental and physical health of Black women. In the last year, we really have focused on what products we can provide to best alleviate the chronic stress that is prevalent in our community. We are really excited to help make an impact on the health of Black women. 

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Oglesby: Lydia Liriano will be ready to launch soon! Go to http://www.lydialiriano.com to be one of the first notified.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Oglesby: I am hoping to soak in and implement as much knowledge as possible in the launching of Lydia Liriano. I’ve been working on my venture for a long time and I am hoping to use the accelerator’s resources to create the best launch possible. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Oglesby: Patience is key! As the famous saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built overnight”. Good things take time. The journey is just as important as the destination. Goals are great, but remembering the big picture is important too. 

For more information about Lydia Liriano, please visit the website here.

Feature Friday! JMakes3D

A 3D printed case JMakes3D created for a recent client.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Garnett: Jacob Garnett, Material Science and Engineering, Spring 2021;
(And my co-founder who is not in Terp Startup) John Fitzell, Bioengineering, Spring 2020.

Jacob Garnett ’21

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Garnett: At JMakes3D, we help inventors and entrepreneurs get from ideation to functional prototype. We do this by providing affordable and reliable services including 3D design, 3D printing, and physical product development. Unlike our competition which focuses on mass production, our focus on functional prototypes helps early stage entrepreneurs validate their idea with customers and demonstrate their idea to investors and licensees.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Garnett: During my Sophomore year after doing freelance with some startups.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Garnett: Hearing about the bad product development experiences of other early stage entrepreneurs was one of the biggest influences on us starting JMakes3D.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Garnett: The pandemic changed the way we tried to find new clients. Previously, we found a lot of clients through in-person networking and referrals but with the pandemic stopping in-person events we are pivoting towards forming partnerships with other innovation-focused organizations like incubators and accelerators.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Garnett: 1) 15 clients over the past 6 months
2) Pitch Dingman Semifinalists
3) Accepted into Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation’s Innovation Station.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Garnett: 1) Develop strategic partnerships with innovators in Maryland.
2) Develop workshops on the product development process.
3) Develop a two-year business plan.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Garnett: Surround yourself with passionate people because they will keep you motivated.

For more information about JMakes3D, please visit the website here.

Feature Friday! Cruising Altitude LLC

Alan Soclof ’21 (top, right) being interviewed by the “Chit Chat Money” investment personalities.

DC: What is your name, major, and anticipated graduation year?
Soclof: My name is Alan Soclof, and I am a Management major with an anticipated graduation date of December 2021.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Soclof: Cruising Altitude is a financial media company focused on educating and inspiring the next generation of long term investors. Through our flagship newsletter, we share high quality, yet simple, stock analysis so anyone and everyone can learn more about the stock market! If Warren Buffett was born in 2000, he would read Cruising Altitude. 

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Soclof: Ever since I was young, I have absolutely loved investing! The process of analyzing and learning about the greatest companies in the world is something that I just find so fascinating! Throughout this year, while many of my contemporaries were bored and stuck at home, their interest in the stock market grew significantly. Many of the resources targeting Gen Zers are focused on day trading and cryptocurrencies and there is nothing out there (for Gen Z specifically) promoting fundamentally driven long term investing. I realized just how big the opportunity could be for a company that is looking to fill this niche, and I had to give it a shot!

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Soclof: I would say the biggest influence for a startup is Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha (his awesome nickname!) is one of the greatest investors of all time. He has showed the whole world how being diligent and patient can lead to lucrative returns. Taking Buffett’s investing approach and mixing it with some Gen Z energy and humor is the Cruising Altitude way! 

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Soclof:
In many ways, we think we were born due to the pandemic! Gen Z flooded into the stock market at unprecedented rates during the pandemic because, well, that was all that was going on! This trend has created a significant opportunity for someone to educate and inspire these new investors to be long term investors (the proven and easiest way!) and Cruising Altitude is looking to do just that!

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Soclof: There are two significant accomplishments, other than getting accepted into the Terp Startup Accelerator, that we are very proud of. The first one is growing our newsletter from 0 to 750 subscribers in just a handful of months! The second accomplishment that we are proud of is that we released an awesome newsletter every week for 27 consecutive weeks. This consistency that we provide to our Cruisers is something that we value and take very seriously!

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Soclof: During the Terp Startup Accelerator, our main goal is to (almost) double our subscriber-ship to 1,400 subscribers! The newsletter is free and only comes once a week (and it is really funny!) so make sure to sign up!

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Soclof: The advice that I would give to any aspiring entrepreneur is to work hard and be patient. Unlike your Amazon order, success does not come overnight! Trust the process, focus on your daily goals, and just wait and after a few months you will be shocked at how much you have accomplished!

For more information about Cruising Altitude LLC, please visit the website and sign up for the newsletter here.

Feature Friday! StockBrew

Peter Chun ’22, Dakshay Mehta ’22, and Jay Patel ’22 are the co-founders of StockBrew.

DC: What are your names, majors, and anticipated graduation years?
Team StockBrew: Jay Patel, Information Science, 2022; Peter Chun, Computer Science, 2022; Dakshay Mehta, Mechanical Engineering, 2022.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Team StockBrew: StockBrew is a mobile app that helps busy stock market investors get notified of real-time insights and upcoming catalysts for their current or potential investments. Build the knowledge you need to make that next trade without having to spend hours a day.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Team StockBrew: All three of us grew up with parents that were all self-starters, who built and ran their own small businesses. Growing up in an environment like that, a sense of hard work and entrepreneurship was instilled on us from a young age. The 3 of us met during our freshman year of college and we worked on several large projects such as engineering our own electric bike and starting our own private investment fund. These projects made us realize we worked well together. Fast forward to September of 2020, when we combined our interests for finance, technology, and entrepreneurship to begin building our startup.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Team StockBrew: Our team knew we wanted to build a startup in the financial tech industry. At first, we came up with various ideas related to a social platform for investors. Then, we started to hold interviews with our potential customers, which is when we began to see a recurring problem. Students and those in the workforce didn’t have the time to constantly check for stock insights/updates, leading to less confidence in making future investment decisions. We owe it to our interview participants for telling us the stories that inspired our idea.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Team StockBrew: We came up with the idea during the pandemic so it didn’t really have a major impact on our company’s focus. However the pandemic did lead to a spike in stock trading, showing us that this is a strong market to get into right now.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Team StockBrew: We’ve been working on this company for almost 5 months. During this time, we’ve been able to launch a landing page website, where people can get more information about the app and join a mailing list for upcoming releases. Additionally, we’ve created mock-ups for our application and created a development plan for our MVP. Just recently, we’ve begun coding the application, and some of the tools we’re using include: AWS, React, IEXCloud, and SqlDBM. 

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Team StockBrew: During the Terp Startup Accelerator, we hope to learn just how to build a company and market to our customers. Also, we aim to learn about useful resources that are available to us. And lastly, we hope to grow our social network. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Team StockBrew: Try to figure out whether people actually have the problem you’re trying to solve before you spend months building something.

For more information about StockBrew, please visit the website here.

Feature Friday! Art Behavioral Analysis

Mika Panday ’21, Colleen Baldwin ’21, and Olivia Bruno ’21 are the co-founders of Art Behavioral Analysis.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
Team ABA: Mika Panday, Studio Art 2021; Colleen Baldwin, Physics 2021; Olivia Bruno, Business Administration and Entrepreneurship 2021.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Team ABA: Art Behavioral Analysis is an intuitive platform allowing HIPAA compliant photo sharing and the creation of medical timelines. Our mission is to help children with disabilities connect with their care teams on a personal level and to enhance the communication between their guardians and healthcare providers.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Baldwin: When I was in 7th grade, my mother was a hospice nurse and I wanted to help the people she served, so I started writing uplifting letters. I worked with a couple of the kids that hung out in our art classroom during recess and inspired them to write letters with me. I received funding from my local church that allowed us to write over 100 letters to people on hospice care. This is when I realized I love the freedom of having my own company and the ability to help people.
Panday: I experienced a major dip in one of my bipolar swings that left me feeling with doubt about my future. Instead of letting it consume me, I drew in my sketchbook every day. I shared my illustrations that reflected how I was feeling to a community online. Overtime, the outlet to create something was the solution to combat my depression. From that experience, I feel motivated to share this tool with other people to cope with their emotions.
Bruno: My parents own an architecture firm, Bruno Architecture in Blue Hill Maine. As I grew up watching them experience the good, bad and ugly parts of entrepreneurship, I realized that it was a viable path towards financial independence, as well as an important way to contribute to my communities. Now I hope to bring my knowledge of business to help the community dearest to me: children with disabilities.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Team ABA: The Maryland Autism facebook group, where mothers share triumphs and challenges involved with Autism, has been a source of inspiration to us. The number of posts surrounding breakdowns of communication between healthcare providers, special education teachers, and therapists, made us realize that this is a problem worth solving in a market ripe for innovation.

We are also inspired by the fearless women who run Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Centers. ABA therapy is a female dominated industry, which is both exciting and refreshing. We have been very lucky to connect with several innovative mentors who have already built, scaled and exited multiple companies in the space. The mentorship and guidance that these women have shared with us has transformed our MVP into a simpler and more impactful tool for families and healthcare providers.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Team ABA: As we moved from in-person experiences to zoom calls and emails, we learned the importance of communication and humanization through technology. We realized that written dialogue itself is not enough, we must change the way communication is structured, especially in the context of the disability community, so that neurotypical and neurodiverse populations can successfully understand and humanize with one another. Based on this hypothesis, we pivoted from a machine learning based diagnostic tool, to a HIPAA compliant photo and video sharing platform, which has received glowing feedback from our mentors in the ABA community.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Team ABA: Over the last six months we have brought on Colleen our technical co-founder, completed customer interviews with over 30 potential customers, connected with four mentors and founders in the ABA community, and built our MVP.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Team ABA: Our most pressing goal is to get our app into the hands of ABA centers so that we can receive feedback from real users and iterate successfully. In order to do this, we need to finish developing the photo storage database and complete beta tests to ensure our platform is fully secure. Currently we have a working frontend and backend for user authentication and security. We hope to leverage insights from our upcoming beta tests to begin fundraising by the end of the Terp program in order to accommodate our growing tech costs.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Team ABA: Remember to always pivot! Always revert back to your customer and understand their needs; ultimately you are making a product that will help them with their everyday life. Follow the sales, if people are not actively trying to buy your product, pivot!

For more information about Art Behavioral Analysis, please visit the website here.