Category Archives: Fearless Founders

E-Fund Recipients of Spring 2021

Through generous gifts from Carly Fiorina and Kevin Plank, the Dingman Center provides ad-hoc seed funding for University of Maryland startups, called the E-Fund. These nondilutive grants range from $250-$1000. Funding typically goes towards equipment purchases, website hosting, rapid prototyping, incorporation fees or any other costs that you see a barrier to getting an idea to market.

Check out this semester’s E-Fund recipients!

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Edullo

Founders: Eric Patel ’21 and Esha Vangara

Edullo is a platform created by students for students. They connect scholars to freelancers to do their part of level the playing field in education. Their $500 E-Fund will go towards supporting and maintaining their data-heavy website platform.

WISE Cities, LLC

Founder: Marie Brodsky

WISE Cities recently won a pilot project with the City of Fairfax following a smart city challenge competition, proposing WISE Cities: Where Innovating Supports the Elderly. Stemming from what they saw facing their own grandparents: a major problem that continues to worsen is the isolation and inactivity experienced by seniors, especially in lower income communities, associated with depression as well as neurodegenerative conditions and long-term health problems. They are working towards two goals: in the shorter term, a geographically-based senior social network app, and in the longer term, the construction of WISE spaces (senior areas for exercise and interaction) in several DMV locations. Their $640 E-Fund will be applied to developing the app.

GoodNewsUniversity

Founder: Oluwafunsho Adeyale, ’21

A new clothing collection, GoodNewsUniversity is coming into the world with some bold fresh trends. Their $500 E-Fund will be used for airbrushing their next line.

Camp Segal, LLC

Founders: Max Segal ’21 and Jacob Nelson ’21

Camp Segal provides the support and infrastructure for college-aged individuals to open up small summer camps. They look to establish a series of camp locations in a time where parents look for camps to focus on safety, proximity, and flexibility. Their $1000 E-Fund will be applied to website development and to expand marketing outreach in New Jersey and New York.

Feature Friday! Gstyles

Goodness Ihekweme ’21 is all smiles modeling an outfit from the Gstyles collection.

DC: What’s your name, major, minor, and graduation year?

Ihekweme: My name is Goodness Ihekweme and I am majoring in Marketing and minoring in technology entrepreneurship. I graduate May 2021. 

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?

Ihekweme: Gstyles is a Women and Men fashion label that builds a gap within one’s self that feels lost. Gstyles creates one of a kind look that allows an individual to feel confident and unique. Gstyles is a place where everyone belongs even when you don’t feel like you do. 

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

Ihekweme: Well it all started with my friend Mia. Mia always had a hard time finding clothes when we were little. Mia wasn’t the average woman size. She was a bit thicker in some areas and it was very hard for her to find clothes that were still stylish and unique in her size. I didn’t understand why it seemed like that for most brands and I didn’t like how it made my friend feel. I felt her pain and how much she didn’t feel included. At that moment, I wanted to create clothes for those who may feel excluded. Gstyles was put in place to build a person’s confidence in any shape, size, and form because they do belong. 

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?

Ihekweme: My parents. They were hardworking. They taught me that anything you want in this life, you can achieve by continuously working hard and never giving up. They always told me daily that “you can do anything you put your mind to” and this is what stuck with me everyday. So when it comes to my brand, giving up was never an option and persistence was the key.

DC: In the new virtual world, how has your focus or ideas changed?

Ihekweme: I started to now see the importance of comfy clothes. At first, when I started designing, I was only thinking of clothes that are meant to be worn outside for events or occasions. When the pandemic started, not a lot of people were going out anymore. That is when I noticed that people also shop for more relaxed and stay at home clothing. That is what inspired a bit  of my recent collection. I fell more in love with comfy apparel. 

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?

Ihekweme: I recently dropped my biggest  collection ever from my brand. This collection is called Genesis and you should all go check it out. It took about 7 ½  months in preparation which included designing the pieces, looking for fabric, curating a photoshoot, putting it on the site and creating my campaign. That was one of my biggest accomplishments in 2020 for my brand.  In addition, I was also blessed to have interns who willingly want to help the brand grow. In 2021 I finally have my dream team all thanks to God. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Ihekweme: The advice that I would give to any aspiring entrepreneurs would be the same advice my parents gave to me. They told me that whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve. Don’t give up, keep going! Failure is not a bad thing and if you fail one time, try again. When you fail you only get better because now you know what not to do and now you can try something else. Lastly, trust in yourself, always go back to why you started your brand and think about the end goal to stay motivated. You got it! I am rooting for you all. 

For more information about Goodness Ihekwemes company, Gstyles, please visit the website here.

Announcing E-Fund Winners of Fall 2020

Through generous gifts from Carly Fiorina and Kevin Plank, the Dingman Center provides ad-hoc seed funding for University of Maryland startups, called the E-Fund. These nondilutive grants range from $250-$1000. Funding typically goes towards equipment purchases, website hosting, rapid prototyping, incorporation fees or any other costs that you see a barrier to getting an idea to market.

Check out this semester’s E-Fund recipients!

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Vitalize, LLC

Founders: Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23, Veeraj Shah ’21

Vitalize is a mobile app for physicians with activities to alleviate stress and reduce burnout. Their E-Fund award of $1000 will be put towards developing crucial software and app functionality.

Morning Light, LLC

Founder: Harrison Burke ’20

Morning Light fosters competitive Esports teams to make the jump to full-time professional sponsorships. As Morning Light’s web presence is a high priority for this esports organizer, their $1000 E-Fund award will go to website development.

Blimp Logistics, LLC

Founder: Camilo Melnyk ’21

Blimp Logistics provides a fast and robust drone delivery network for any business. To support Blimp’s efforts to complete a full and functional prototype, this $1000 E-Fund will be used for a GPS System, Raspberry support hardware, data plan, and website development.

SweetsbyCaroline, LLC

Founder: Caroline Ta ’21

SweetsbyCaroline is a baking business that specializes in custom gluten-free french macarons, as well as cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts that are perfect for engagements, weddings, parties, and other events. Looking to increase her production while reducing costs and time, Caroline will be investing her $1000 E-Fund into a new, larger convection oven that will triple her delicious output.

Edullo

Founders: Eric Patel ’21 and Esha Vangara

Edullo is a platform created by students for students. They connect scholars to freelancers to do their part of level the playing field in education. Their $500 E-Fund will go towards supporting and maintaining their data-heavy website platform, and developing an app for even easier access.

Across The Board

Founders: Rick Philbin, MBA Candidate ’21

Across the Board is a game rental service for events. They are solving the problem for anyone hosting a wedding / birthday party / tailgate who wants to have exciting games for their event but does not want to own them long-term. Their $312 E-Fund award will be applied to a year-long Squarespace subscription.

Campus Gigs

Founders: Nataraj Shivaprasad ’24 and Sri Kanipakala ’24

Currently, the gig economy is estimated to account for 40% of the U.S workforce. With the rise of remote work, this number is slated to grow, making it imperative for college students to be prepared for the unique challenges and skills required for the gig economy. We are looking to solve this problem by developing a platform specifically for students to provide gig services to local businesses. Businesses also benefit from this, untapping the potential of a flexible, cheaper, and in many cases, skilled workforce. Campus Gigs’ $150 E-Fund Award will support their app development.

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Terp Startup Morning Light Esports brings some old-school competition

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

Morning Light Esports

Founder: Harrison Burke ’20

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Burke: Morning Light is an Esports organization focused on bringing a vintage and rustic aesthetic to an industry that is currently filled with companies that are carbon copies of one another. The assumption that everyone interested in Esports wants to see brands that are edgy, neon colored, and filled with intensity, is a massive misconception to me. Everyone wants to champion something whether it’s a band, their university, or a professional team. My ambition is to build an Esports org for people who are bored of the same old thing and give them something to champion.

DC: How did you first come up with your idea?

Burke: I’ve been involved in Esports since 2013 and my obsession with antiques, vintage clothes, and classic rock goes back further than my memory serves me. When I realized that I wanted to run my own Esports organization after having worked in Esports for 2 years, it felt only right to make it harder than I had to for a challenge’s sake. I could create another boring, neon-light-covered, obnoxious brand like everyone else, or I could go a different route and look to create something that hasn’t been done before. It hit me that creating an Esports brand based on vintage and rustic themes would be a way for me to make my work an extension of myself and my identity while bringing something new to the scene.

DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?

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360° real estate shopping by drone? Meet Terp Startup Door Robotics, Inc

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

Door Robotics

Founders: Joshua Ermias ’20, Vincent Jaugan ’21, Patrick Crowe

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Ermias: Door Robotics is a 360-camera indoor capable drone company based in Maryland. An expensive problem that real estate photographers and content creators have is the amount of time it takes to complete a job. We set out to provide an autonomous solution that combined 360 cameras and drones. The vision for our drone is to have a Roomba-like functionality and follow-me feature that optimizes the capture of quality video/photo shots with a 360 view.

The Door Robotics Team

DC: How did you first come up with your idea?

Ermias: Initially, I came up with the idea when I was first working on drones, cameras, and 360 footage. My friend had asked me to help him make a 360 app while I was working on a drone project. I put the camera I had on the drone and realized that it added a unique perspective. At the time, there were no other drones that could do something like this, and I was inspired to dive into the startup world.

DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?

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For the booked, the busy and the bougie: Terp Startup O.pal.es.cent Nails

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

O.pal.es.cent Nails

Founder: Doyinsola Oladimeji-Stevens ’20

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Oladimeji-Stevens: O•pal•es•cent Nails is a custom handmade press-on nail company for the booked, the busy, and the bougie. Our purpose is to give people back their time, convenience, and money without sacrificing on quality. We are targeting people who are tired of spending hundreds of dollars a month on nails that on average only last 2 weeks before they have to go in and do the same thing all over again. Millions of dollars are spent annually on nails that might last for 3 weeks at best. Why buy something temporary when you can invest in something long-lasting?

DC: How did you first come up with your idea?

Doyinsola Oladimeji-Stevens

Oladimeji-Stevens: I had always been interested in nails and nail art. In high school, I would spend hours on a Saturday doing a nail design on my left hand that would end up chipping by the next week. I initially bought some nail tips sophomore year of college to be able to do the same designs but in a form that I could reuse. I first came up with my business idea in October and it was as if a light bulb went off. I honestly thought to myself, “Why hadn’t I been doing this sooner?!”

DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?

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Terp Startup Sow Co: Reap (and eat) what you sow

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

Sow Co

Founder: Jacques Marais ’20

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Sow Co aspires to help you satisfy your human need to be involved in the process of growing and enjoying food while appreciating the warmth and personality of a bountiful, hanging, in home veggie garden.

DC: How did you first come up with your idea?

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Suss Up Your Wardrobe with Terp Startup Sustainable Socialite

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

The Sustainable Socialite

Founder: Sarah Lader ’20, Family Science

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Founder, Sarah Lader

Lader: Vintage fashion isn’t affordable, thrift stores aren’t time efficient, and retail stores are not only poor quality, but harm the environment with every new item made. The Sustainable Socialite curates bold, quality, unique pre-loved pieces to sell at an affordable price so that you can stand out from the crowd while standing up to fight against fast fashion. Not only that, but we’ll be bringing the product directly to you to try and fall in love with! With a new mobile boutique, this innovative company will be a one of a kind shopping experience.

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Upgrade Your Style with Terp Startup Wanderlust Wardrobe

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

Wanderlust Wardrobe

Founder: Lucy Bedewi ’20, Marketing

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DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Bedewi: Shopping is confusing. Styling yourself and dressing well is an art. Every single day we are flooded with ads telling us what to wear, where to shop, what’s in style and that we have to buy all of it. Through Wanderlust Wardrobe, I help people discover what to wear through easy and accessible fashion styling resources. By using a combination of face to face styling, video chatting and texting, everyone is now able to find confidence in their wardrobe every single day.

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Terp Startup Vitalize Solves Physician Burnout with Dedicated Wellness App

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

Vitalize

Founders:

Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23, Neuroeconomics (Individualized Studies); Neurobiology and Physiology double major; Innovation and Entrepreneurship minor (left)
Veeraj Shah ’21, Neurobiology and Physiology; Health Sciences, Policy and Technology double major (right)

Interested in becoming a customer? Fill out this customer discovery form.

VitalizeDC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Our startup, Vitalize, is the first wellness app designed specifically for physicians. 

42% of our country’s physicians report experiencing burnout, a syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished sense of accomplishment. The consequences of physician burnout are multifold, severely affecting physicians themselves, patients, and hospital systems. The extensive body of literature around the topic of physician burnout culminates into a crucial conclusion: a high performing healthcare system isn’t possible with such high rates of burnout. Simply put, physician burnout is a public health crisis.

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