Category Archives: New Venture Practicum

ANNOUNCING THE FEARLESS FOUNDERS: NEW VENTURE PRACTICUM 2022 COHORT

New Venture Practicum is one of the Dingman Center’s signature courses. Taught by Maryland Smith Clinical Professor Oliver Schlake during the Spring semester, students experiment with business models, revenue streams and go-to-market strategies. By the end of this course, some startups are securing their first customers and generating revenue, while others are working on a beta or pilot. In the final class, students pitch for seed funding to move their business forward.

Read on to learn more about this cohort’s exciting student founders and their businesses!

Build Bigger – Jonathan MacGregor ’22
Build Bigger is a gym clothing brand company that builds community among people who go the gym. Targeted at mostly male audience aged (15-22), but increasing market fit.

Easy Park – Sarthak Patel ’25
An app that aims to make parking as convenient as possible by completely digitalizing the parking process where drivers would just have to park their car at their desired spot and they are one click away from parking their car.

Emily Garcia ’24

Em G Art Design Studio – Emily Garcia ’24 (Studio Art and Art Education)
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.

Heart2Starr – Ileana Lozano ’22
Heart2Starr explores the influencer interface by taking its community members behind the scenes of the life and works of Ileana Lozano through a series of tweets. Heart2Starr creates conversations, inspires users worldwide, and offers community to users who resonate with its messages.

Paul Mouring ’22

Odin Electric – Paul Mouring ’22 (Mechanical Engineering)
A company focused on developing and implementing an alternate energy source that is cheap, safe, green and reliable. Odin’s generators will be necessary innovation that will help end the climate crisis.  

Sequester Carbon Certified – Nathan McMullen ’23
Many farms in Maryland are actively sequestering atmospheric CO2 in their soil, but consumers aren’t aware of these businesses impact on climate change. My venture certifies and labels products that sequester carbon for added value and visibility for eco-conscious consumers.

Shai Consulting – Shiv Agarwal ’23
I build Stand Operating Procedures that enable entrepreneurs ($1M-$10M revenue, 5-20 team members) to remove themselves from the execution of various business functions so that they can scale their operation. Additionally, my service streamlines, optimizes, and refines processes, however, this is not the target pain point.

Justin Fenn ’22

StockadooHrithik Bansal ’22 (Computer Science) and Justin Fenn ’22 (Computer Science)
Stockadoo is a stock market for content creators. Users can buy and sell shares of their favorite creators, and creators receive an alternative source of monetization.

Hrithik Bansal ’22

Sparza – Ryan Myer ’22 (Finance and Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
My team and I have created A Balancing Act card game which is a hilarious and wild combination of charades and Jenga. A Balancing Act is a card game that will eventually help fund Solis School, a school meant to provide unfortunate children with the opportunity to learn essential life skills and become successful in life.

Treasuremybeaute’ Treasure Valdez ’23 (Communication)
Treasuremybeaute’ is a brand 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.

Tribar – Perri Moeller ’22
This company makes protein bars made out of proprietary blend of jerky (beef, turkey, mushroom), seeds and veggies. The target market is for the active person who wants to stay satiated, with a bar that’s yummy and a complete macronutrient break down.

UCleaner – Blake Kuzemchak ’23
Geriatric and hospitalized individuals have reduced fine motor skills that makes it for them to adequately maintain their oral hygiene. As the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation is projected to significantly increase the geriatric population by 2030 and beyond, we aim to develop a product that facilitates oral hygiene within this vulnerable demographic.

Undefined Dreamerz – Takiyah Roberts ’25 (Material Science Engineering)
Undefined Dreamerz is a clothing brand that allows customers to be themselves unapologetically both in this reality and virtual realities. Undefined Dreamerz is a cutting edge streetwear fashion brand that is integrating technology with fashion. 

Venture – Isaac Lefkovitz ’24 Samai Patel ’24
When people move to new places, they need events to go to and people to go with. Venture solves this problem by connecting people to events where they can meet others who want to go, taking away the awkwardness that comes from having to make plans with someone new.

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Terp Toolkit: Finding the Right Entrepreneurship Course for You

By Madison Mazer

As Spring 2022 course registration begins, keep in mind the array of entrepreneurship classes that the Dingman Center offers. Starting this week, students can sign up to take any of our three classes next semester including Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum (BMGT 468R), Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D), or Fearless Founders: Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory (BMGT 468U).

The best part, you don’t have to be a business major to take advantage of these unique classes. Programs and courses provided by the Dingman Center are open to all majors and all interested undergraduate students are encouraged to register or apply. 

Course overview:

BMGT 468R – Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum

This three-credit course is for undergraduate students committed to an idea after validation. Students experiment with business models, revenue streams, and go-to-market strategies. By the end of this course, some startups are securing their first customers and generating revenue, while others are working on a beta or pilot. In the final class, students pitch for seed funding to move their business forward. The course is taught by Oliver Schlake, clinical professor, management and organization.

If you are interested in registering for the Spring 2022 class, please fill out our application.

BMGT 369D Ladies First Founders

Ladies First Founders is the Dingman Center’s one-credit spring semester course for female and non-binary students interested in entrepreneurship. Taught by Sara Herald, champion of our Ladies First Initiative, the course helps students build soft skills for overcoming gender biases in entrepreneurship. Students do not need to have launched a venture, as the focus of the course is on demystifying entrepreneurship. The syllabus includes a blend of skill-building workshops and networking events. Topics include the how to’s of networking and mentorship, finding balance as a founder/student/human, overcoming imposter syndrome, startup pitching and body language, funding and how to get it, and more.

BMGT 468U – Fearless Founders: Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory

Taught by Dingman Center Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence Drew Bewick, the Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory is an active learning environment for students to test their hypotheses around the creation of social ventures and develop a deep understanding of how the field of social entrepreneurship works. Teams will iteratively test their ideas for solving social problems through experimentation, document results, incorporate feedback from key stakeholders, develop a minimum viable product, and present their outcomes. Come to this class interested in changing the world and leave with a social entrepreneur’s mindset and valuable experience using pioneering startup methodologies.

Why entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship courses can service students beyond the classroom, teaching them important skills like innovation, collaboration, and complex problem-solving. Additionally, these courses can be useful to all students, not just those interested in pursuing a career in business. 

Ladies First Founders (BMGT369D) instructor, Sara Herald, agrees that these classes are the perfect oppurtunity to get valuable experience, which will apply to any field of study. 

“Learning how to think like an entrepreneur is beneficial for everyone, no matter what profession you go into. The entrepreneurial mindset involves the ability to maximize scarce resources while navigating uncertain environments; learning how to do that will make you incredibly valuable whether as a founder or leader in another company,” said Herald.  

Some of these courses, like Fearless Founders: Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory (BMGT468U), can even help you make a positive impact on your community. 

“Successfully employing market-based strategies to solve critical social and environmental concerns in ways that are both technologically viable and economically sustainable are in demand in the world today,” said BMGT468U Professor Drew Bewick. 

If you want “hands-on, active environment that fuses agile management and lean start-up practices like no other class in the region,” then according to Bewick, this is the class for you.  

Not only are these courses a great way to support your future, but they are also a way to receive day-to-day support. For example, Herald thinks of Ladies First Founders as more than just a class. 

“Ladies First Founders is a community of female entrepreneurs. It’s a place for women and non-binary Terps who want to start their own ventures to feel like they belong in entrepreneurship and support each other. We learn both the hard and soft skills of starting a company, but ultimately the most valuable thing students leave the course with is a sense of confidence and belief in themselves as future founders,” said Herald. 

Entrepreneurship on campus:

As an undergraduate student, now is the perfect time to start learning about entrepreneurship, especially if you’re interested in starting your own business someday. 

“When you’re a student, it’s a great time to get hands-on experience launching a venture. There are so many resources available at UMD, including the Dingman Center. It’s a safe place. Mentors are available to help you learn how to avoid common pitfalls. You’ll meet interesting students. You’ve heard how practice makes perfect? It’s no different when it comes to launching ventures to make an impact,” said Bewick. 

In addition to the Dingman Center, Herald advises taking advantage of on campus resources like the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Do Good Institute, UM Ventures, and MTech. There are extensive opportunities to further your venture and sharpen your entrepreneurial skills at UMD, and these courses are a great place to start. 

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Jason and Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award 2021 Recipient – Athenus Financial Group

Athenus Financial Group is a startup founded by University of Maryland students Damian Shaw ’24 and Cameron Williams ’21. Athenus is a fintech application that allows its users to easily trade foreign exchange. It is powered by Machine Learning AI, which allows users to analyze price data in seconds, where users can then place successful trades without having to learn the market themselves. Williams participated in New Venture Practicum during the Spring ’21 semester and the team also competed in Pitch Dingman Competition 2021 Semifinals.

Athenus Financial Group has been chosen as the recipient for the 2021 Jason ’96 & Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award. They will receive $1,000 to further accelerate their startup, selected due to the perseverance, level of engagement, and growth potential they have shown over the course of the year. According to Williams, the funding will be put towards backend costs, such as servers and connecting to the brokers network.

Congratulations to Shaw and Williams of Athenus Financial Group!

ANNOUNCING THE FEARLESS FOUNDERS: NEW VENTURE PRACTICUM 2021 COHORT

New Venture Practicum is one of the Dingman Center’s signature courses. Taught by Maryland Smith Clinical Professor Oliver Schlake during the Spring semester, students experiment with business models, revenue streams and go-to-market strategies. By the end of the three-credit course, some startups are securing their first customers and generating revenue, while others are working on a beta or pilot. In the final class, students pitch for seed funding to move their business forward.

Read on to learn more about this cohort’s exciting student founders and their businesses!

Athenus Financial Group – Cameron Williams ’21
Athenus enables young, amateur investors to engage with and trade foreign exchange. Built in features such as algorithms and a built in social media community helps new traders navigate the market and manage risk without the hassle of learning the market or hiring a mentor. 

Campus Gigs – Nataraj Shivaprasad ’21 & Sri Kanipakala ’24
We connect small businesses in College Park to students to foster symbiotic economic ties in the community. We achieve this through a platform where businesses can request gig services and post exclusive deals for students.

Cloud Closet – Vera Andreeva ’22
The Cloud Closet is designed to significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to get dressed. It simultaneously increases the amount of outfits through recommendations while keeping your closet the same size. Based on your style, it will recommend items that will keep you feeling stylish and on trend.

Compass Check – Paul Celius ’22 and Jourdan Wright ’21
Compass Check is about educating young adults on investing while being able to foster a great community on the platforms. The goal is for users to build a solid foundation and have the confidence to make educated financial decisions. 

Cruising Altitude – Alan Soclof ’22
Our mission at Cruising Altitude is to educate and engage the next generation of long term investors. We achieve our mission through a weekly newsletter that is engaging, entertaining, and contains original analysis on prospective investments.

Lace BarMaliha Bukhari ‘22

Lydia Liriano – Nishelle Oglesby ’21
Lydia Liriano is a luxury candle company that strives to give black women high-quality self-care experiences that benefit mental health.

Mindgrasp – Thai Cao ’23 and Rushil Joshi ’22
Mindgrasp.io is an AI-powered web app that can perform several complex text-related tasks for its users, including answering user questions based on text, summarizing, and paraphrasing. The service is primarily designed for students and academics.

PrommuniKarsh (Utkarsh) Patel

Quiet Storm Digital – Eric Ross ’21
We provide customer retention strategies for “diamond in the rough” nano-brands who yearn for a cult-like following. 

ScholarTrac – Casey Puentes ’23
ScholarTrac connects untapped high school talent with local businesses.

SoundBites – Mike Houser ’17, ’22 Graduate
SoundBites is a sound sommelier: using proven research to create immersive soundscapes, perfectly paired to tasting menus for an optimized fine dining experience.

Teacher Recommender System – Sander Schulhoff ’24
TRS automates and expedites the process of connecting high school students with their teacher recommenders for college.

Wardrobe – Gerald Berman ’23
Wardrobe is a digital wardrobe app for young professionals that will impact how individuals get dressed.

White Lotus – Tigh Eisenberg-Rayburn ’21
White Lotus focuses on helping athletes of all levels grow their mental and physical abilities to be more flexible, coordinated, and mobile.

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.

Senior Send-Off: Jacques Marais, Founder of Munch

In our Senior Send-Off series, the Dingman Center celebrates the student founders who are part of the graduating class of spring 2020. We are so pleased to have had the chance to get to know each of these talented entrepreneurs through our programs. 

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Jacques Marais – Munch

Jacques Marais ’20 is an architecture major who in his last year at University of Maryland has become increasingly involved with the Dingman Center for his startup, Munch, a company offering a portable grow-it-yourself kit for customers to produce three pounds of microgreens per week in their own kitchens. Jacques pitched Munch during our regional round of The Hult Prize in November, and in the spring joined our New Venture Practicum class. Last week, Jacques went on to win the 2020 AgEnterprise Challenge launched by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In partnership with F³Tech accelerator, Munch will gain access to $30,000 in seed funding for commercialization through the competition. To cap off a strong year of entrepreneurship for Jacques, Munch was accepted into our virtual Terp Startup accelerator this summer, which provides a $5,000 stipend, access to workshops and ongoing advising. We hope to see Munch the company grow as prodigiously as its microgreens.

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Dingman TV: ModBars

Dingman TV is a channel brought to you by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at Maryland Smith featuring all infomercials, all the time! These commercials are produced by student entrepreneurs at University of Maryland to showcase their products and services, drive traffic to their websites and gather feedback and support from potential customers in the UMD community and beyond. 

modbars jpeg (2)ModBars, LLC

ModBars, LLC is a startup founded by University of Maryland students Jeff Su ’21 and Wyatt Talcott ’21. Also on the ModBars team are UMD students Max Levine ’22, Joe Oleynik ’23 and
Nate Stevens ’21. Jeff and Wyatt completed this video as students in the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum course, taught by Maryland Smith professor Oliver Schlake. ModBars also competed as semifinalists in Pitch Dingman Competition in fall 2019.

At the end of each academic year, Dingman Center supporter and successful alumni food entrepreneur Jason Cohen ’96 gives out the Jason ’96 & Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award of $1,000. ModBars was selected by the Dingman Center team to receive this year’s award.

Visit their website: www.modbars.com

Announcing the Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum 2019 Cohort

NVP 2019 logo image

New Venture Practicum is a three-credit course within the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator where, under the guidance of Maryland Smith Clinical Professor Oliver Schlake, students build and test their business ideas using lean startup methodology. Each business is assigned a venture mentor from the Dingman Center Mentor Network. Upon completion of the course, students will be eligible for seed funding.

Read on to learn more about this cohort’s exciting student founders and their businesses!

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