Category Archives: Ladies First

3 Key Lessons from the Inaugural Ladies First Founders Cohort

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From left: Fiona Whitefield, Jasmine Snead, Natalie Urban, Yinyin Liao, Jess Rosenthal, Sara Herald, Sydney Parker, Audrey Awasom, Megha Guggari, Maria Chen & Breonna Massey

Last week, the inaugural cohort of Ladies First Founders gave presentations on their entrepreneurial journeys. Each female student reflected not only on the growth of their business, but also on how they have personally grown since joining the class. Presentations were followed by feedback from the rest of the cohort, and for every young woman who presented, each of her peers had something uniquely positive to compliment about her confidence, delivery, style or attitude. Witnessing these women celebrate one another and show empathy for their shared struggles was a beautiful experience.

Throughout the presentations, it was evident that before Ladies First Founders, many of these women suffered in isolation from shared issues that, once together, they were able to properly identify and work to overcome. Here are some of the greatest outcomes of taking workshops and connecting with fellow female entrepreneurs in Ladies First Founders:

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Gender & Entrepreneurship at the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

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Left to right: Mabel Abraham, David Ross, Dolly Oberoi and Rajshree Agarwal

by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

On Friday April 20th, at the 14th Annual Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference chaired by Professors Anil Gupta and David Kirsch, the Dingman Center’s Ladies First Initiative sponsored a panel discussion, “Gender and Entrepreneurship: Past, Present and Future.”

Sara Herald, our Ladies First champion, shared a thought-provoking statement to introduce the panel discussion: she described the mission of the Ladies First initiative as focused upon understanding the different barriers that female students face and how we can fix the system, not fix the women.

This was an apt introduction to spur further investigation in the area of gender and entrepreneurship, which brought 2 researchers, Mabel Abraham from Columbia University and David Ross from University of Florida, together with Dolly Oberoi, Co-Founder and Chairman of C2 Technologies, to discuss the topic of female entrepreneurship in the US.

The session chair and moderator, Rajshree Agarwal, asked salient questions and highlighted the reality that being a female founder has nearly universally negative outcomes, particularly  in the US. As researchers and founders discussed the hypotheses and reasons for this, something became increasingly clear—even though the barriers have been reduced, it is a misconception to think that the barriers are gone.

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Reflecting on the Ladies First: Dolphin Tank with Springboard Enterprises

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by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

On Tuesday, April 3, Springboard Enterprises brought Dolphin Tank to the University of Maryland, in collaboration with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s ‘Ladies First’ initiative. The Ladies First initiative is a commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.

Now, as a self-professed ‘Shark Tank’ lover, I truly love learning about entrepreneurs’ ventures and hearing the critical feedback from the ‘sharks’ across market size, valuation and true opportunity for growth. In fact, after continued viewing, I found myself often adopting the role of an investor, asking the questions from the comfort of my living room and feeling quite good about anticipating the concerns or questions that an investor might have.

That’s my version of a fun night sometimes; What can I say? I love entrepreneurship in all forms.

So when I heard Springboard Enterprises was bringing Dolphin Tank to campus, I, naturally, jumped at the chance to swim with the sharks – or dolphins.

Springboard Enterprises describes Dolphin Tank as “helpful feedback-driven pitch sessions for entrepreneurs to receive constructive insights from knowledgeable professionals. Dolphin Tanks aren’t about sharks, piranhas, dragons, or competing for the best idea – they’re about channeling the expertise of the people in the room. The Dolphin Tank is an interactive discussion led by an expert panel that focuses on one thing: “How can we help?” 

After attending my very first Dolphin Tank, I was impressed with the willingness of the attendees in the room to not only provide constructive feedback, but to provide connections also.

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An Inside Look at the Inaugural Ladies First Founders Cohort

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From left: Audrey Awasom, Yinyin Lao, Megha Guggari, Maria Chen, Natalie Urban, Breonna Massey, Sydney Parker, Jess Rosenthal, Jasmine Snead, Fiona Whitefield, Sara Herald

by: Megan McPherson

This semester, something truly remarkable is happening on Monday afternoons in the Smith School’s executive board room. Sitting around the room’s imposing conference table are the inaugural Ladies First Founders cohort, ten young women united by their experiences as female entrepreneurs. At the head of the table sits adjunct professor Sara Herald, the Dingman Center’s Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship and founder of the Ladies First initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. Yesterday, I was offered the privilege to sit in on the class and discover what Ladies First Founders is all about. What started out as an observational study for a blog post became an empowering exercise in what can happen when women are given a platform to learn from and support one another.

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Wrapping Up Fall 2017 at the Dingman Center

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The end of the semester is here once again! Student entrepreneurs are buckling down to get through their final exams, group projects and presentations before they’re off for the holidays. As the Dingman Center quiets down while students are studying, we’ve had time to reflect on the events we’ve held throughout the semester. In these past few months, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of energy, engagement and enthusiasm from the community at our events and programs at the Smith School. Take a look at some of our favorite highlights over the past semester!

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Reflections on the 2nd Annual Ladies First Fall Dinner

by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

Ladies First is the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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Sara Herald, Associate Director of Social Entrepreneurship began the Ladies First dinner with these words.  The theme of the evening—‘Purpose’ and an avenue to achieving that purpose—Social Entrepreneurship.

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What’s Coming Up at the Dingman Center

There are plenty of exciting events happening at and around the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Get out your calendars and mark down these dates—we’ll see you there!

October:

Pitch Dingman Competition Applications
Monday, September 18 to Thursday, October 19

Pitch Dingman Competition is the University of Maryland’s only business competition exclusively for Terps. Held annually, students can compete for $30,000 in startup funding. Student entrepreneurs should apply at go.umd.edu/pitchcompetition.

Dingman Jumpstart
Friday, October 6, 12-3 p.m. | 1505 Van Munching Hall

Dingman Jumpstart is open to all University of Maryland students who have a startup idea, but lack a business framework with which to operate. This pivotal workshop is a 3 hour crash-course in business models, financials, understanding your competition, and much more. Set your business up for success, and apply now at go.umd.edu/jumpstart!

spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start by the Dingman Center & Startup Shell
Friday & Saturday, October 20 – 21 | Pownall Atrium, Van Munching Hall

spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start is a two-day ideation event featuring brainstorming activities that encourage students to find solutions to problems they want to solve. spark provides students who are interested in entrepreneurship but haven’t yet founded a venture with a means to discover and explore how their passions can translate into business ideas. Register at go.umd.edu/spark

Friday, October 20, 5-9 p.m.
What Problem Do You Want To Solve?

On Friday night, under the direction of Professor Oliver Schlake students will brainstorm with their peers about problems they would like to solve. By the end of the night, they will join a team and begin collaborating to come up with ideas for solutions to their chosen problems.

Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
How Will You Solve It?

On Saturday, students will attend a series of workshops and work with mentors to fine-tune their idea and ultimately present their results at a Show and Tell, where judges will pick winners to take home prizes.

Terp Marketplace
Friday, October 27, 12-2 p.m. | Pownall Atrium, Van Munching Hall

(Terp Marketplace)dsc_0062blogTerp Marketplace is an opportunity for student entrepreneurs to sell or showcase their products and gather feedback from the Smith community. There’s no better way to test your product on the open market than going out there and selling what you have, even if it isn’t perfect! Participation is free and is open to all current UMD students. Sign up for a table at go.umd.edu/terpmarketplace!

November:

Ladies First Fall Dinner
Wednesday, November 8, 6 p.m. | 2517 Van Munching Hall

(Ladies First)DSC_0016Ladies First is the Dingman Center’s initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. Female students are invited to attend the second annual Ladies First dinner and learn more about upcoming Ladies First programs and events for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals
Thursday, November 16, 6:00PM | Frank Auditorium

featuredphotoAt Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals, 10 student startups will pitch their businesses to judges to win a spot at the Finals in the spring. At the end, five startup teams will move on to compete for a shot at the $15,000 grand prize! Come cheer on your fellow Terps and learn more about the Pitch Dingman Competition at go.umd.edu/pitchcompetition!

Get to Know the Dingman Center: Sara Herald

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Sara Herald, Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship

Sara Herald came to the Dingman Center from the Center for Social Value Creation in January 2016, bringing social entrepreneurship along with her. Since her arrival, the Dingman Center has sought to create a welcome space for students interested in leveraging venture creation for social impact. She has challenged us to reframe our concept of “entrepreneurship” to be inclusive of students who don’t self-label as “entrepreneur”, and might prefer the term “changemaker” or “problem-solver” instead. Through her landmark Ladies First initiative, we are seeing more female students than ever exploring entrepreneurial pathways at University of Maryland. Sara’s progressive attitude toward entrepreneurship and its role in building a better world are inspiring to both staff and students.

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Ladies First Profile: The Story Behind 2B

This story is part of a blog series for the launch of Ladies First, the Dingman Center’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

By: Nina Silverstein

I began every year of my teaching tenure in Baltimore by asking my students what they wanted to be when they grew up. My kindergarten and first grade students were eager to announce that they were going to be a teacher or a police officer or a football player. A select few said they wanted to be doctors or firefighters. I noticed that when I called my students “Dr. Demetira” or “Police Officer Denard”, their interest and engagement in their schoolwork peaked. Additionally, when my school held a career day, I again saw the level of engagement in school peak. It was as if the students saw the possibilities of future endeavors appear before them and helped them realize why school was important to achieving that.

2B colors.pngThat was when the idea for 2B emerged. 2B is a mission-driven clothing company aimed at expanding children’s horizons and helping them to envision themselves as a variety of different occupations when they grow up. 2B seeks to help students learn about different careers by providing books and clothing centered around each occupation, which helps to provide reasoning for why school is an important factor to their future success. We aim to make the connection between hard work in school and future attainment of their dreams. In order to ensure that all children benefit from envisioning their dreams, 2B will be donated to under-resourced schools so that every child, regardless of background, has the same access to opportunity and the same ability to envision themselves as anything they want to be when they grow up.

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Ladies First Profile: Shizu Okusa of JRINK

As part of the Dingman Center’s involvement in Women’s Month at Smith, this post profiles Shizu Okusa, a local founder who will be participating in our Ladies First: Becoming a Savvy Startup Investor workshop on March 10th.

by: Nina Silverstein MBA ’17

Shizu Okuza - Head shotShizu Okusa’s entrepreneurial journey has not been a lateral one, but rather a circuitous culmination of experiences that led her to co-found JRINK, a “fresh-pressed solution for life-pressed people.” The no-sugar added, preservative-free, cold-pressed juices are locally produced in Falls Church, Virginia, and have permeated the Washington D.C. healthy living scene. JRINK serves delicious and nutritious offerings via both their retail locations and online delivery.

Shizu’s path to launching JRINK was a winding one, first taking her to the trading floor at Goldman Sachs, where she met her future co-founder, Jennifer Ngai. After her analyst program ended, Shizu traveled to and worked in Mozambique and Bali, where yoga and clean eating were key priorities. It was during this trip that she became more curious about the world and other cultures. When she returned to D.C., Shizu took a job with the World Bank, where Jennifer was also working. Having kept in touch over the years, the two reunited and quickly realized that healthy food options were not available near their office. They did not have access to delivery services at the time and had no healthy options nearby, and the idea for JRINK emerged. Seeking to solve their own problem, Shizu and Jennifer began bringing their own juices to work, where colleagues would ask for tastes and where to one for themselves.

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