Category Archives: Startup Success

10 Things to Know About Raul Fernandez

by: Eric Elliot

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The next Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series takes place on April 17 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium and will feature UMD alumnus Raul Fernandez ’90, the current Vice Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Click here to register for the event and read on for some interesting facts about this successful entrepreneur and philanthropist!

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Key Takeaways from the Hisaoka Speaker Series Young Founders Panel

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From left: Moderator, Robert Hisaoka; Bradley Deyo; Brandon Deyo; Evan Lutz; Ali von Paris

By: Eric Elliot

On Tuesday, February 13, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the second event in our Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series, a Young Founders Panel which featured four successful entrepreneurs who launched their ventures as students. In a panel moderated by Robert Hisaoka, Ali von Paris ’12, Evan Lutz ’14, Brandon Deyo and Bradley Deyo shared some of the insights they learned along with the challenges they faced turning their dorm room ventures into thriving businesses.

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Hisaoka Speaker Series Young Founders Panel Preview: Brandon and Bradley Deyo

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.

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Mars Reel – Brandon and Bradley Deyo

Mars Reel started eight years ago in February, 2010, when Brandon and Bradley Deyo were sophomores playing basketball at Richard Montgomery High School. They dreamed of being recruited by a college basketball program and landing a scholarship; however, they were just like everybody else. Teammates and other high school athletes were also vying for the same limited media attention. In an attempt to get noticed by recruiters, Brandon and Bradley began recording highlights of their games and sent them to recruiters. Word quickly began to spread about the brothers who brought cameras to every game, and soon, friends, teammates, and players from other teams began asking for help. The brothers served as contractual cameramen and taught themselves how to edit videos. Mars Reel quickly became a small production studio for high school basketball athletes looking to get noticed, and the highlight clips on Mars Reel grew exponentially. Within a year, Brandon and Bradley Deyo received the 2011 Ernst & Young “Youth Entrepreneur” of the Year Award.

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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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Hisaoka Speaker Series Young Founders Panel Preview: Ali von Paris

By: Eric Elliot

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The 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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Route One Apparel – Ali von Paris ’12

In November 2010, Ali von Paris was faced with no work after the bar she worked at, the Thirsty Turtle, closed down. Wanting to honor the fallen bar along with her co-workers, Ali designed her first product, the “Turtle Survivor” jersey. Even though the jersey was initially targeted toward the employees, other fans of the bar quickly became interested. Ali saw this as an opportunity to leverage her passion for design and creativity into a business. Utilizing her social media channels, Ali advertised the jersey to her friends and family and secured 600 pre-orders for the product within just a few weeks, marking the start of Route One Apparel.

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3 Things I Did To “Surprise and Delight” My Way to 15,000 Customers

by: Sam Feldman, Founder, CardBuddy

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BACKGROUND ON ME

I fell in love with entrepreneurship soon after arriving at college, and made it my goal to run a business full-time upon graduating. I went 2 years without any paying customers, but during my junior year I started CardBuddy, a stick-on phone wallet company that now does over $100K annual revenue (and have been running it full-time since graduating last May).

I have some unique customer service strategies which have brought me great results, and I thought I’d share them here!

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Dingman EIR Disrupts the Real Estate Industry with Latest Venture, iUnit

 

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UPDATE – Recently, we caught up with Brice to get a few updates on iUnit. Within the next few weeks, iUnit will deliver to tenants the first project and MVP. This video gives the viewer a glimpse into the construction process and community amenities. In additional news, iUnit is expanding its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the world’s largest research centers focused on energy efficiency. The iUnit prototype will be housed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility where it will be used in testing everything from materials used to build the iUnit to energy efficient mechanical systems like iUnits battery and software systems.

It’s an exciting time for Brice and his team. To put a finer point on the company’s progress, Brice commented “iUnit is essentially the electric car of housing.”


February 4, 2015 – Envision the Prius of apartment buildings: wired with the latest “smart” technology, environmentally friendly, affordable, cool. That’s exactly what lifelong entrepreneur Brice Leconte delivers in his latest venture, iUnit.

Brice is one of the Dingman Center’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs-In-Residence), who help UMD students realize their entrepreneurial ideas during the Dingman Center’s weekly Dingman Fridays sessions. A long-time entrepreneur, Brice has a passion for disrupting industries and building socially active companies. He has started and invested in a wide range of businesses, from real estate development, to bricks and mortar, to e-commerce and tech startups. Today, he is focused on disrupting the real estate industry with his latest brand, iUnit.

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6 things we learned at Do Good Challenge Finals

By: Megan McPherson

The positive energy at last night’s Do Good Challenge was palpable. From the showcase to the finalist pitches to the panel of past Do Good competitors, it was clear that every person  there was united by a passion for driving social change. Do Good delivered not only excellent pitches but also an informative platform for discussing the unique challenges and rewards of social entrepreneurship. Here are some takeaways:

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A Look Back at the 2016 Cupid’s Cup

By: Justin Taubman ’16 MBA Candidate

On Thursday, April 7th, Kevin Plank ’96, Founder and CEO of Under Armour, returned to the University of Maryland to host the 11th annual Cupid’s Cup Entrepreneurship Competition. This was my second time attending the event and Mr. Plank continues to outdo himself by bringing in celebrity judges like Dan Gilbert, Wes Moore, and Arianna Huffington to evaluate the exceptional pitches of six finalists. The finalists emerged from a pool of over 500 applicants representing over 100 schools and made it through several rounds of screening to the main event where they competed for $100,000 in cash prizes.

The event started at 2:00 p.m. in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with a Startup Showcase of UMD’s top student entrepreneurs and their businesses. Among the startups in the showcase were many of the finalists from the Pitch Dingman Competition such as uBoard and WeCook as well as many other friends of the Dingman Center like Spot This and Meta Cartel

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After touring all the booths, I ended up throwing on a Spot This t-shirt and joining my classmates to help collect email addresses to invite users to join their beta. The crowd was very curious about their product and happy to get involved in the testing. The energy and excitement in the atmosphere was palpable, but this was just an appetizer leading up to the main event that would start at 4:00 p.m.

The show kicked off with the professional MC Christian Crosby, Live Events Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers who introduced Plank to the crowd of over a thousand. Mr. Plank recounted his days at the University of Maryland as a student athlete and his rose delivery business that helped him raise the seed money to start Under Armour after graduating. After introducing the judges, the competition began.

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Kevin Plank ’96 introducing judges

The competition was comprised of six finalists, all with incredibly unique businesses that were all generating substantial revenue. Headbands of Hope kicked things off by pitching their stylish headband company with a social angle to help children with cancer. Then the University of Maryland’s own Javazen got the hometown crowd fired up in their presentation. The unique box membership company MyBestBox did an impressive job explaining how their customized boxes can help customers live more healthy lives. The youngest entrepreneur in the finals was the founder of Plova Chewing Gum, who introduced us to the world’s first beneficial oral care product in the form of gum. The founder of Six Foods had an infectious energy that got Kevin Plank to eat her Chirp Chips, tortilla chips made with crickets. The last pitch was by Wolf & Shepherd the sleek dress shoe company with the technology of running shoes.

The judges certainly had their work cut out for them. Ultimately there could only be one winner of the Cup. After much deliberation the judges emerged from backstage and handed out some impressive $5,000 consolation prizes to Plova and MyBestBox. SixFoods was awarded $25,000 for second-place. The first-place prize of $75,000, their name on the Cup, and access to Kevin Plank’s network was awarded to our very own Javazen! We are all very proud of Ryan, Eric, and Aaron at the Dingman Center and hope that their success continues and also that it inspires other student entrepreneurs at University of Maryland.

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Part-time MBA Launches Grey Matter, A Terp Startup that Protects First Responders

WebImagine a technology that could protect first responders and law enforcement agents from dangerous chemicals.

Not only would the technology protect agents from such chemicals, it would actually block the chemicals from clothing, turn them into water and cause the toxic chemicals to evaporate before even having a chance to touch agents’ skin. That is what the technology behind DC-area startup, Grey Matter, claims to deliver.

The venture, co-founded by part-time Smith MBA student Tommy Luginbill, recently secured $75,000 in federal grant funding to bring this potentially lifesaving, self-decontaminating clothing technology to agents in the field.

How did Grey Matter get its start?

Tommy Luginbill, Grey Matter

Tommy Luginbill, Grey Matter

Tommy Luginbill is no stranger to entrepreneurship. A part-time MBA student, Tommy comes from a line of entrepreneurs and even helped to start a family-run solar contracting business before business school. Given his strong interest in startups, Tommy started hanging out at the Dingman Center (one of the resources that drew him to UMD) and even pitched an idea to an EIR for an energy software venture.

Dr. Brandy Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Brandy Johnson, Ph.D.

As Terps are known to do, Tommy worked tirelessly and fearlessly dove into the courses available around the Smith School, including the Fearless Founders program. He learned of a new pilot program at the time on campus called iCorps, which matched business students with lab innovations to identify viable commercialization paths. It was here that Tommy met inventor Dr. Brandy Johnson, a Ph.D. working in the Naval Research Lab.

Dr. Johnson was developing smart anti-decontaminating materials made from chitosan, a biopolymer made by treating recycled crab shells. Tommy knew about the lean startup methodology, how to create a business plan, and how to conduct customer discover and identify markets.

And Grey Matter was born.

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