Category Archives: social entrepreneurship

Forging Connections and Consulting for Impact in Guatemala

This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America for eight weeks this summer. Learn more about MSEC here.

by: Carter Griffin ’20

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The country of Guatemala is so beautiful, and I feel has taught me so much in my time here. Two months is not enough to capture the whole essence of the culture, food and many sites there are to see here, but I am so grateful for the experiences that I will bring back to my family and friends. I can’t wait to try speaking Spanish to my family and friends, and though my Spanish has greatly improved, it certainly is not perfect.

The Guatemalans (Including food)

The people that I have met here have been some of the kindest people I’ve met in my life. From the moment I stepped into the country I was greeted by several kind people who helped me figure out where I was, as I almost immediately got lost in the airport. My first host mom, Dona Gris, is very kind, and though she knew no English, she gave her all to helping me understand what was going on. She always listened to my abysmal Spanish and did her best to give me easy words to work with. My second host family is large and incredibly kind. I am eternally grateful that I have been placed with them, because they really helped make my experience in Xela ten times better. My family consists of the father, Francisco, the mother, Vicky, the grandmother, Erica, and the children, Javier, Mellie, Carlos, Pablo, Dulce, Benji and baby Julia. They have told me so much about Guatemala and our discussions have been the highlight of this trip. The diversity and taste of the food that I eat every day always manages to surprise me. My family can cook very well, and I am always excited for dinner. Lunch in the city is always an adventure, as most every place in the city serves delicious meals.

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UMD Students Consulting with Local Businesses in Ecuador

This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America for eight weeks this summer. Learn more about MSEC here.

blog_pic4by: Gunleen Deol ’21

My time in-country here in Ecuador with the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC) has been phenomenal. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a tremendous amount from my peers, not just those from UMD, but also those from the University of Conneticut. Moreover, I’ve experienced an incredible amount of personal growth from conversing with my host familes in Spanish and really getting to know them by immersing myself in their culture. The most rewarding part of my experience, however, is the work that we do here in the rural communities.

Before dividing off into two groups and traveling to different rural communities in Ecuador, the entire SEC team spent two weeks in Cuenca, Ecuador, familiarizing ourselves with the four main projects that we have the liberty to work on during our time in the rural communities.

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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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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Symbiont Health

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Erich Meissner, CEO; Maria Chen, CMO; Kyle Liu, CTO

Symbiont Health

Erich Meissner, CEO
Maria Chen, CMO
Kyle Liu, CTO

Logo&Slogan.pngSenior electrical engineering major Erich Meissner came up with the idea for a new kind of wearable fall detection device after his grandmother experienced a fall. He learned from her doctor that over 40% of senior falls are due to syncopy, a sudden loss of consciousness, which isn’t solved by common fall notification systems like Life Alert that require users to press a button. Furthermore, his grandmother had a Life Alert but wasn’t wearing it at the time—many seniors feel these devices carry an unwanted stigma advertising their loss of independence. Teaming up with junior pre-med student Maria Chen and sophomore computer science major Kyle Liu, Erich launched Symbiont Health to tackle the issue of unconscious elderly falls. In 2017, they competed in the Do Good Challenge and took second place in the Ventures track, then participated in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders Accelerator. Leading up to Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, Symbiont Health has tested more subtle wearable devices as well as WiFi Mesh Networking solutions to detect falls.

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Hisaoka Speaker Series Young Founders Panel Preview: Evan Lutz

By: Eric Elliot

RGHisaoka_LOGO_2The Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series continues with a Young Founders Panel on Tuesday, February 13 from 5:00-6:45 p.m. Panelists Ali von Paris ’12, Evan Lutz ’14 and Brandon and Bradley Deyo are all successful entrepreneurs who started their businesses as students. In a panel moderated by Robert Hisaoka, students, staff, faculty and alumni will hear about the experiences and challenges each founder faced while turning their dorm room startups into lucrative businesses. Register now to attend, and stay tuned to our blog to learn more about each of the panelists.

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Hungry Harvest – Evan Lutz ’14

Evan wanted to be a social entrepreneur ever since he was little. Particularly, he wanted to do something about the inefficient food system of this country. Every year, 40% of food produced goes to waste due to superficial abnormalities; at the same time, 20% of the U.S. lacks access to a nutritious diet. Wanting to do something about this, Evan Lutz started Hungry Harvest in the basement of his dorm room during his senior year at the University of Maryland with the goal of reducing food waste and eliminating hunger. Hungry Harvest purchases surplus ‘ugly produce’ that would have gone to waste from farmers and wholesalers and then distributes them to weekly subscribers. For every box they deliver to a customer, they donate a healthy meal to someone in need.

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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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Learning to Appreciate Life in Pulingui, Ecuador

This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America. Learn more about MSEC here.

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by: Chris Wolfe

While Cuenca was little different than a typical city in America, Ñamarin began to show us what it was like to live without the luxuries we enjoy in the States on a daily basis. There was little wifi or cell service, a lack of hot water, and a lack of temperature control within buildings. I did not see any of these things as great hardships because I was still able to live fairly comfortably. Little did I know what I was about to face in our last village: Pulingui.

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Terp Startup 2B Gives Children a Vision for Adult Success

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the nine student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. 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.

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2B

Former elementary school teacher Nina Silverstein MBA ’17 is the founder of social venture 2B, a children’s book and clothing company that aims to inspire children by giving them a means to envision what they want to be when they grow up. The t-shirts would be printed with representations of what, for example, a doctor would wear when doing his/her job, and the books would contain a kid-friendly overview of what a doctor does and how a child can prepare to become one when they grow up. These sets of t-shirts and books would be available in a wide variety of professions, some that many children, especially in underprivileged circumstances, may never have considered or even been aware of. Nina hopes that 2B will break down barriers and broaden horizons for children of all backgrounds, encouraging them to believe that with hard work, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

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Learning with Children in the Dominican Republic

This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America. Learn more about MSEC here.

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by: Shelby Pittman

The past few weeks I have immersed myself with Dominican culture, something that is brand new to me. I am only halfway through this journey, but along the way I try to act as a sponge, soaking up the mannerisms, problems and the language of the people. During this eight week program with the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps there are 22 students which are split between two cities, Ojeda and Los Blancos. I was placed in Ojeda, where I mostly spend time with my welcoming host family and their friends.

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