Category Archives: Feature Friday

Feature Friday! Quandry

Quandry is a digital platform that provides retail traders tools for researching, developing, and deploying automated trading strategies.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
Houlton: Bryan Houlton, Computer Science and Robotics, Winter 2023. Ryan Downing, Finance and Computer Science, Spring 2022.

Co-founder Bryan Houlton ’23

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Houlton: I’m involved in a lot of startup stuff at UMD. For Dingman, my company is participating in the Pitch Dingman Competition for 2023. We’re in the Quattrone track and competing for $30,000, but I’m also involved in the Hatchery and Startup Shell.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Houlton: We make tools for algorithmic trading, a field where people make use of complex formulas and mathematical model to make decisions to buy or sell stock. Our product basically boils down to a web platform where you can log on, build an algorithmic investing strategy, test it over years of market data to see how it would have performed, and if you like the results, start trading with real or fake money. Then, you can list your strategy on the marketplace for others to invest in, and you’ll make a commission on their profits: essentially making everyone their own hedge fund.

Co-founder Ryan Downing ’22

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Houlton: We’ve had a lot of support from the UMD entrepreneurship community. We were accepted into the Hatchery, a new UMD incubator, and are being mentored by some amazing people there. We also have great connections through Dingman, Startup Shell, etc. To shoutout a few, I’d say Haroon, Idris, and Zeki Mokhtarzada, Juliana Neelbauer, the Startup Shell admin team, and our main Dingman contacts, Lottie Byram and Alex Onufrak.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Houlton: Well, we’ve only been around for ~5mo and are launching our product in May. So, our big updates are that we were accepted into the Hatchery and are close to finishing our initial product. We’ve also managed to onboard two awesome people to work with, one of which is another UMD student helping with some software engineering, and another is a UI/UX designer based out of California. I would consider getting them onboard to be a significant accomplishment purely because of how much they have contributed to the company and how important they have been to our success so far.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
Houlton: Right now, our most important thing is making sure that the product is ready for launch by the end of May. We’re working hard on building out the last couple features that we need, fixing bugs, iterating on our user experience, and marketing. Both Ryan (my cofounder and CTO) and I are working probably 50+ hours a week to really push this through, so organizational processes like sprints have been a must for consistent execution. We’re also looking to raise some money in alignment with the product launch, so opportunities like Pitch Dingman, Y Combinator, Contrary, and other VC firms that we have connections to are a hot topic for us right now.

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Houlton: There are two answers to this: the internal and the external. Internally, it’s the cliché “I’ve always liked to build things”. It’s what everyone says, but for most people that are into this kind of stuff, it’s true. Getting to build a product that you’re excited about and see other people also get excited about is a truly unique experience. The external motivation is the people I get to interact with by being a part of UMD entrepreneurship. This ranges from my fellow students in Startup Shell to the Mokhtarzada brothers running the Hatchery, as they all come together to drive UMD in the entrepreneurship space. Watching every one of them be passionate about UMD’s startup community makes me want to participate in the great opportunities popping up all over the university.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Houlton: I’m assuming anyone reading this is going to be from UMD, so my advice we be to get involved in the UMD startup communities. My background is in tech and a solid portion of what I do at Quandry is coding, but I find that more and more of running a startup is about people. Who are your mentors, who are you learning from, how well do you get along with your cofounders and core team, who are you hiring, etc. We’re not at this point yet but what I’ve heard is that, especially as your company grows, you’ll be spending less and less time on the base level work (coding, cold calls, so forth). It’s important to have a team that you can trust and rely on to be able to delegate to and propel the company forward. To find people, some great communities to get involved in are Startup Shell (would HIGHLY recommend for any students), Dingman Center (great events like Pitch Dingman and the Summer Accelerator), and the Hatchery (applications are every September). At these places you can find some amazing people to learn from, but also, working for a startup is a good way to see if you want to make your own. You’ll get a good idea of what the job looks like for founders, as well as learn a lot about tech, marketing, or whatever you’re working in to help when you start your own company. To summarize, focus a lot of your time on finding great people that have skills that compliment your own, and learn as much as you can about startups through work experience or campus communities. There will probably never be a better time in your life to take a risk on a startup, so if you’re thinking about it, just go for it.

To learn more about Quandry, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! AnnasHandmadeHats

Founder of AnnasHandmadeHats, Anna Boyd ’24 (right), wearing her handmade balaclava.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Boyd: My name is Anna Boyd. I am a plant science major with a sustainability minor, 2024 graduation year.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Boyd: I am participating in Terp Marketplace this semester.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Boyd: I have a crochet business and I sell items like beanies, bucket hats, shirts, skirts, dresses, stuffed animals and more. I have had this business for about ten years and had my first table at a holiday sale when I was 13. 

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Boyd: My Grandma, Gg and my Aunt Kelly. Gg taught me how to knit when I was ten years old. She would always bring us crafts as kids and made me love knitting and being creative. My Aunt Kelly knits as well and is an amazing woman. She is so incredibly talented and helps me so much with patterns and ideas. I wouldn’t be where I am without them and the support of my mom, dad, and whole family.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Boyd: In the last six months I have made over $2,500 selling my crochet items through my instagram and Etsy, also a friend of mine, Olivia Wolfson wrote an article on my business for Her Campus magazine. I am also very proud of how much positive feedback I get from customers, I get a lot of people who order from me multiple times which I love and overall get so much support from my friends and customers. I am also very excited to be apart of Terp Marketplace.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Boyd: I am working on expanding my business more and participating in more events. I updated my etsy account to have a wider variety of my items, I will have a table at Terp Market place and am looking to apply for art attack in May. A big part of that is creating new fun things people like. I have some new stuff for Terp Marketplace that I am really excited to see if people enjoy and overall am working on many new styles and items to release.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Boyd: Even though I don’t have a big business by any means I consider myself successful. I think success is creating something you are proud of and the feedback you get from others. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Boyd: Find what you’re passionate about and stick with it. If you enjoy and are excited about your project, keep working on it and don’t give up.

To learn more about AnnasHandmadeHats please visit the Etsy here.

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Feature Friday! WISE Cities

WISE Cities is a platform designed to address social isolation among seniors.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Brodsky: Marie Brodsky, Mathematics major, STEM Ethics and Policy and Computer Science double minor, spring 2024 graduation year.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Brodsky: Dingman Fridays Advising and the 2022 Pitch Dingman Competition.

Marie Brodsky ’24

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Brodsky: WISE Cities designs accessible technology to address social isolation among the elderly. Our first mobile app allows senior citizens to form local groups, and gives community centers and local businesses the opportunity to connect with this hard-to-reach audience.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Brodsky: Our most important decisions are inspired by the individuals for whom we’re solving this problem – seniors in our own lives. We are also moved by what we hear from city representatives and community organizations trying to connect with the senior population. Finally, we are grateful for a trusted set of advisors who we can turn to when we feel unsure in our next steps.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Brodsky: Last spring, we were fortunate to have been offered a year-long pilot project with the City of Fairfax. Now, while continuing the pilot, we are deeply involved with our target market, both on administrative and personal levels, and both in our local communities and in national networks. We’ve received a lot of support for intergenerational thinking, and have been welcomed by organizations which serve seniors and wish for better ways to engage them through technology. In parallel, we’ve made significant steps in implementing our app as well as revamped our website at wisecities.us!

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Brodsky: In an effort to make the biggest difference, we are making it incredibly high priority to precisely understand the gaps in the current system that seniors find themselves in. That is, we are gaining input through avenues such as focus groups, interviews with seniors and families, and meetings with city officials ranging from those working in economic development to those leading committees in the health department. As our network and knowledge expands and we become further integrated into this community, we are able to design a solution that can be most helpful for a group that is often overlooked!

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Brodsky: Being able to meaningfully contribute to addressing a very real issue is so motivating. Personally, I was inspired to start this project when my grandfather was living with me and I observed daily how little social interaction he got and how difficult it was for him to use all these apps covered in buttons and unnecessary features. Also, working in an enthusiastic team keeps us all going with this! It’s exciting to be in control of a new idea that could grow into something useful for many people.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Brodsky: Make sure to reach out to people who you can learn from! Creating a startup is really hard, and many problems are ones that you can’t predict in advance, but if you have people you can rely on for advice, you’re much more likely to make it work 🙂

To learn more about WISE Cities, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Em G Art Design Studio

Founder, Emily Garcia ’24, selling original artwork and products at Terp Marketplace.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Garcia: Emily Garcia, Studio Art & Art Education double major, 2024 graduation year.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Garcia: Terp Marketplace and Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum (BMGT 468R)

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Garcia: Em G Art Design Studio offers handmade and personally designed products that can be gifted or used to personalize everyday living. These products are designed to be used as a source of inspiration, expression, and creativity.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Garcia: I understand what it’s like to juggle stressful events, illness, and lack of stability. Art is my source of expression. It is a place where I can create freely and with no restraints. But what also fuels my work is making someone smile from something I have made. Making someone smile is one of the best things in the world. For this reason, I strive to spread joy, inspiration, and hope through my startup.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Garcia: Within the last six months I have opened an Etsy shop, designed and made new products, registered into BMGT, applied for the TiE University Pitch Competition, designed my own business cards and certificates of authenticity for my paintings.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Garcia: I am working on getting more people to know about my business and presenting it in a professional way. In order to accomplish this, I have started creating videos to spread interest and to show behind the scenes on how I make my products. As well as, registering into BMGT at UMD.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Garcia: Success is when you set a goal and actively worked on achieving that goal. It involves learning from mistakes, identifying what worked and what did not.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Garcia: Do not be afraid of moving passed the “planning” stage. Take the steps to make your venture a reality, even if they may be small steps. Go for it!

To learn more about Em G Art Design Studio please visit the Etsy here.

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Feature Friday! Treasuremybeaute’

Treasure Valdez ’23, founder of Treasuremybeaute’.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Valdez: My name is Treasure Valdez, my graduation year is 2023, and I major in Communications with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Valdez: So far, I have been involved with the Dingman Center by attending Dingman Fridays.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Valdez: I would describe Treasuremybeaute’ as a brand that is designed for women with demanding lifestyles that are in need of high-performing products that saves time without compromising quality. TreasureMyBeaute’ products were created to add value, premium quality, and exclusivity to Women across the globe. Creating an experience of glamour that starts with our packing sparking and emotional charge as YOU unlock your gorgeousness.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Valdez: My mother has been my biggest influence for my startup because she is the reason why I am the person I am today. She continues to push me and always encourages me to never play small and to walk in my power. With that being said, I have broken generational curses and will continue to break more as I build my legacy and create generational wealth for future generations.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Valdez: In the last six months, I was granted opportunities to be featured on different platforms, increasing awareness about Treasuremybeaute’ products and how they solve issues for women on the go that allows them to achieve pro-like results in minutes.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Valdez: The most important thing I am working on right now is launching an editorial campaign to increase visibility for the product lines Lip Heist Collection and Blink Obsession Collection. I plan on making this happen by hiring a creative director, an image consultant, and a professional editorial photographer.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Valdez: I define success as self-love, when you are comfortable in your own skin and happy with who you are every day that you wake up. Also, using that self-love to build a legacy that I can be proud of.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Valdez: The phrase that I live by is to learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable because this takes away any limitations that are placed upon you. Do not allow yourself to become the projections of someone else’s fears. Take that risk!

To learn more about Treasuremybeaute’ please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! E. Ozie Productions

“The Beautiful Math of Coral,” an original novel by E. Ozie Productions founder, Ijeoma Asonye ’23

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Asonye: My name is Ijeoma Asonye. I am a junior mechanical engineering major and creative writing minor graduating in 2023. I am also part of the QUEST Honors Program.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Asonye: I have been involved in Ladies First Founders. In the past, I would actively come to First Fridays!

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Asonye: With our foundations from the novel “The Beautiful Math of Coral”, E. Ozie Productions is a multimedia creative house. We are using our creative voice to rise to the forefront of revolutionary conversations about community, society, and identity. We believe in the power of art, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and storytelling for social impact through various different mediums.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to start your own venture? 
Asonye: I’ve always loved books so the idea of writing a book came across my mind during the pandemic and I just jumped on the opportunity. My venture started off with my book “The Beautiful Math of Coral” after watching a TEDtalk of the same name. I would call my book a coming-of-age story that creates metaphors with concepts in STEM, mixed with lots of love and other intangible things. I think it’s a very swoon-worthy book. Now I am looking forward to expanding what kind of creative works we do in the future as a creative house like an AR app for books we are working on.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Asonye: As of right now, ARTECHOUSE plays a big influence for my startup showing the beauty in STEM with their recent exhibition of “Life of A Neuron”. I love how ARTECHOUSE integrates art, science, and technology in the visual sphere. I also was inspired to create my own creative house by learning more about Einhorn’s Epic Productions which is an entertainment creative house. I think they are doing some really cool stuff for underserved gen-z fandoms which is an industry I am tapping into with my book. One of the co-founders of the company purchased my book and that is how I learned more about them.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Asonye: My most significant accomplishment, as of right now, would have to be that my book “The Beautiful Math of Coral” debuted as a #1 New Release on Amazon! I also participated in Terp Marketplace which was super exciting. I sold a few copies and was able to meet lots of people with an interest in books. My book got featured in the mechanical engineering department magazine, Metrics. Although I don’t consider it as a direct project under my company, the research I started as an undergraduate researcher, which is similar to the values of my company called “E.Ozie and The Mixed Reality For Humanity Project” received a grant from the Do Good Institute at UMD!

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Asonye: What I look to for motivation changes every day. It could be an hour long conversation I had with someone in the film industry that pumps me up or simple affirmations I say every day. As of lately, the music group BTS has motivated me to work hard. Funny enough my college essay was about their influence on me and now I’m a university student so I guess it must be working. I have a poster of them in my room on the cover of TIME Magazine with the headline “Next Generation Leaders”. Although the title “Next Generation Leader” seems like a lot to bear to me I imagine myself as one. Also hearing stories of boss women doing their thing in different industries like music, business, technology, etc.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Asonye: Three things: grow your network, explore, and surround yourself with like minded individuals.

To learn more about E. Ozie Productions please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Omega 3 LLC

Edwin Bright Djampa ’22, founder of Omega 3 LLC.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Djampa: Edwin Bright Djampa, I go by my middle name Bright. My major is Nutritional Food Science, Graduation May 2022.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Djampa: I have been involved with the Pitch Dingman Competition in 2021.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Djampa: At Omega 3, we aim to provide consumers with an easy, accessible, and delicious way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their daily diets and reap the many health benefits of this essential, brain-boosting nutrient. We hope to empower people to take charge of their mental health through nutrition. We want the link between nutrition and brain function to be at the forefront of the dialogue surrounding mental health. We hope one day, you can walk into any local grocery store and find a section of food items dedicated to brain support.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Djampa: In the last 6 months we’ve been able to get into all the retail locations and cafes on UMD campus. We have also been able to get on to Georgetown University retail locations. We have also been able to partner with NAMI to provide participants with granola bars. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives.

DC: Can you describe your typical day as a student business owner?
Djampa: My typical day is: I wake up at 6am and review all emails and all potential orders. I work to respond to emails and fulfill orders. Then around 7am I either run around and check up on stores in person or I ship the online orders. Around 8am I eat breakfast and begin my class work for the day. My classes typically end at 12pm. I then take a 1 hour break to relax. At 2pm I begin to work on social media and branding content to promote Omega 3 (this typically takes about an hour and a half). For the remainder of the day 4-8pm, I then work to find new gyms, stores, universities, and yoga studios to enter into.  From 8 till about 12am I return to school work/class assignments. 

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now, and how are you making it happen? 
Djampa: Currently at Omega 3 we are working on a huge rebranding effort. To make it more clear on our packaging and social media platforms that we are a brain-centric food company.  The rebranding efforts will be completely done in Mid January 2022.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Djampa: It is honestly very hard to define success as a business owner because the marker for success is ever-evolving. I would say true success for most business owners is when the business is no longer running them, but instead, they are in a position where they are running the business.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Djampa: Your internal compass is the only thing that will get you through this entire journey of entrepreneurship. Remain true to your internal compass. Also never ride the highs for too long and certainly don’t ride the lows. As hard as it may be, try and remain even-keel as much as possible.

To learn more about Omega 3, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! North Star Creations

Co-founders Mat and Elaine Parsons MBA ’22 with their children reading original book, How Does It Feel.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
Parsons: Elaine and Mat Parsons, MBA program 2022.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Parsons: Pitch Dingman Competition 2021 Fearless Ideas Competition Grand Prize Winner, 2021 Terp Startup Accelerator Program, and weekly Dingman Friday Participant.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Parsons: We create products for parents to teach their children how to recognize and understand emotions. These tools will equip their children with self awareness and relationship skills to navigate through life.

DC: Now that you’ve completed Terp Startup Accelerator this past summer, what’s next for your company?
Parsons: Our plan is to launch on Kickstarter Oct. 22nd in order to get support to launch our company. Our goal is to raise $5,000 dollars so we can batch order our book, doll, and puzzles.

DC: Can you describe your typical day as a business owner?
Parsons: Putting out fires – I feel like a typical day is solving all of the things that have not worked out over the week!

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
Parsons: Without a doubt the most important thing we are working on is our book. We really believe that this book will be a great bridge for parents to start teaching their toddlers how to recognize and understand emotions.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Parsons: For our business success is helping as many kids as possible. Our two goals are: 

1. Teaching toddlers that these strong emotions they are feeling is ok.

2. Donating holiday toys to kids who can’t afford them.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Parsons: Read…Read…Read…The two books Lean Start Up and The One Page Marketing Plan have been our best friend.

To learn more about North Star Creations, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Aurora

Aurora is an inclusive hosiery and apparel company that inspires wearers to be comfortable in their own skin.

DC: What’s your names, majors, minors, and graduation years?
Rickerby: Imani Rickerby, Co-founder & COO, Public Health Science major, 2017 graduation year; Sydney Parker, Co-founder & CMO, Communications major, Women’s Studies certificate, 2018 graduation year; Jasmine Snead, Co-founder & CFO, Government & Politics major, African American Studies certificate, 2017 graduation year; Masters in Public Policy/Masters in Business Administration, 2021 graduation year

Imani Rickerby ’17

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Rickerby: Dingman Jumpstart, Ladies First, Dingman Fridays, New Venture Practicum, Terp Startup Accelerator, Pitch Dingman Competition, and Terp Startup Fellows. 

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Rickerby: Aurora Tights is the #1 most inclusive athletic hosiery and apparel brand. We make tights for dancers and ice skaters in five shades and seven sizes, from Child Small to Adult 3X. Since its inception, Aurora has empowered performers to bring their own dynamic color and light to the stage. Aurora creates an inclusive space for all athletes to #performincolor.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Rickerby: The Aurora team is composed of a figure skater, synchronized ice skater, and a competitive dancer with over 60 years of performing experience combined. Imani Rickerby, Jasmine Snead, and Sydney Parker attended the University of Maryland, College Park, and are sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Jasmine, a figure skater of over 20 years, used to dye her tights in a bathtub before every competition, and the process was time-consuming, messy, experimental, and expensive. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Imani, a lifetime synchronized ice skater, grew up skating in tights that were too pale for her complexion. While they had different experiences, they were unified in feeling marginalized, unheard, and unseen in the sport they loved.  

Jasmine Snead ’17

While coaching a team of young synchronized ice skaters, Jasmine and Imani noticed that many of their students, particularly those of color, were reliving their experiences of isolation. Due to the lack of diverse skating gear, their students were lacking confidence, loneliness, and identity issues. Many times, athletes of color draw away from the sport – not because of a lack of talent – but due to the lack of community.  Inspired by their students, the duo both quickly realized that there was an unmet need and shared their stories with Sydney, their best friend and lifetime competitive dancer. 

Sydney had a similar experience while dancing, with the added pressure of being a dark-skinned woman in a predominately white sport. The hair products, makeup, and especially the apparel never fit her appearance. Sydney’s feelings of isolation rose so high she avoided even looking in the mirror. It was only after finding her community on her collegiate team of predominantly black women that Sydney started to have confidence in not only her skills, but also her appearance. She understood then what it meant to have a support channel to turn to in times of need. Together the three decided to be the catalysts to end the destructive cycle of monoculturalism within performance sports and instead build a community of empowerment.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Rickerby: While we are a for-profit company, our social impact mission is directly baked into our business model. Supporting and empowering minority athletes to say involved in their passions is the fundamental driver of Aurora. We strive to make sure all athletes feel comfortable in their skin, excel at their athletic passions, and have a long-lasting tenure in their sport. 

DC: Can you describe/outline your typical day as a business owner?
Rickerby: Our typical day includes brainstorming strategies, solving day-to-day issues, responding to customers, monitoring our social media, and A LOT of meetings.

Sydney Parker ’18

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Rickerby: Before COVID-19, Aurora Tights had a lot of momentum. However, with social distancing policies, large events and team sports practices were canceled, and sports complexes and gyms were closed. As a result, there has been a substantial decline in tight sales, and several large accounts were postponed until teams can practice safely. As entrepreneurs, we looked for the silver lining. We launched our line of at-home workout apparel which kept Aurora alive while we all stayed safe in the home. Now with everything opening up, our large accounts are coming back into focus and our tights are set to be featured in the newest Shondaland show, “Inventing Anna,” and the Broadway show “SIX”!

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Rickerby: There have been a lot milestones within the last six months! We were accepted in the Desai Accelerator, which has been a huge driver for growth. Also, we hosted our third cohort of the Aurora Tights Internship, added 11 teams to our Aurora Teams program, refreshed brand, and rolled out our newest product – shimmery tights!

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Rickerby: Well, both ice skating and dance are diversifying rapidly, which is a huge motivator! To best support this inclusive environment, we need to change the definition of beauty in performance sports. To do this, the first step is ensuring that all performers have apparel in their unique skin tone. Currently, there is a whole population of performers who do not have tights that match their skin color or do not like the shades that are available to them. We strive to make sure adults and children, just like us, feel comfortable in their skin and excel at their athletic passions.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Rickerby: So many times as young people, we feel unqualified to go after our vision. We are so hard on ourselves and feel as if we must first become experts at something before execution. Yet many people do not put those same pressures on themselves and instead exude a confidence that is needed for the entrepreneurship world. I encourage young people to work every day on building that same level of confidence in themselves and to not be afraid to just do it. There is so much magic in our ideas and the world would be made better for it!

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

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Feature Friday! ModBars

Co-founders Jeff Su ’21 and Wyatt Talcott ’22 selling ModBars at the Derwood Farmers Market in Rockville, MD.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
Su: Jeff Su — Finance and Supply Chain Management ’21, Wyatt Talcott — Marketing ’22, Max Levine — Finance ’22, Joe Oleynik — Information Systems ’23

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Su: Pitch Dingman 2019, Terp Startup 2020.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Su: We specialize in making a variety of different snack bars from protein, energy, to trail mix and even dessert bars. They’re low in sugar and packed with fiber so they’ll keep you feeling full without the sugar crash.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Su: Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s the one that inspired me to just start and the whole thing a shot.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Su: We definitely switched gears and started doubling down on e-commerce. A majority of our sales are now coming from our website which has been awesome to see. It’s also given us enough time to think long term and plan for the future. We’ve got exciting projects ahead that’ll hopefully push us to our next milestone.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Su: In the past 6 months we’ve actually gotten the chance to sell at our first farmers market up in Rockville—Derwood Farmers Market. It was amazing to get back to our roots and do in-person sales again. On top of that, we had the opportunity to partner up with a few of the local neighborhood outdoor pools which not only drove more sales but also let us get our name out there to new customers. Overall, we’ve seen high recurring customer rates and overall really positive feedback from the community. We’ve also been doing a lot of R&D recently that’ll hopefully help drive more sales coming up. There may be a shift in our current product line but more time is needed. Moving forward we want to start investing heavily in media marketing since that has been one of the key areas we’ve been lacking for some time now.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Su: Be prepared to work really hard. It requires a lot of sacrifice. There’ll be a ton of distractions and things that won’t work in your favor; if you’re not willing or dedicated enough it’ll make you want to quit at every step. So ensure you’re having fun putting work into your venture and don’t gloss over even the smallest victories.

To learn more about ModBars, please visit the website here.

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