Category Archives: startup

Celebrating Entrepreneurship Day in Van Munching Hall

By: Eric Elliot

The Dingman Center is lucky to be a part of a fantastic community filled with motivated student and alumni entrepreneurs. To celebrate this strong spirit of entrepreneurship at UMD, we hosted Entrepreneurship Day on Tuesday, April 17, which featured student startups at Terp Marketplace during the afternoon and serial technology entrepreneur Raul Fernandez at the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series later that evening.

Terp Marketplace

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Terp Marketplace was an opportunity for student startups to showcase and sell their products & services directly to the Smith community. This semester, we had a huge turnout from students, staff, faculty and alumni who were eager to see the 30 startups on display. A few participants featured included Pitch Dingman Competition second place winner Brianna Queen ’18 of BEEQBOX with her popular F*ckboy Repellent illuminating setting spray, and alumni startup FroDoh, who brought samples of their tasty frozen doughnut holes. The students who participated have taken part in our Fearless Founders Accelerator program, Ladies First Founders or Professor David Kressler’s 461 Entrepreneurship class.

Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series featuring Raul Fernandez

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UMD alumnus and highly successful entrepreneur Raul Fernandez ’90 traveled to Van Munching Hall for an intimate conversation with Robert Hisaoka ’79 on his experiences in entrepreneurship. As the former founder of Proxicom and currently the Vice Chairman and Owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Raul shared some of the key lessons he learned through his journey and valuable pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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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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Announcing the Fearless Founders: Hatch 2018 Cohort

Hatch 2018 Cohort

Hatch is a three-credit course within the Fearless Founders accelerator where students will build and test their business ideas using lean startup methodology. Each business is also assigned a venture mentor from the Dingman Center Mentor Network. Upon completion of the course, students will be eligible for up to $2,500 in seed funding.

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

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Terp Marketplace Brings Homecoming Festivities to the Smith School

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By: Eric Elliot

Fall is here and the entrepreneurial spirit is in the air! To celebrate homecoming weekend at the Smith School, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship hosted Terp Marketplace on Friday; student entrepreneurs set up their businesses and sold their products and services directly to students, staff, faculty and alumni who were participating in the festivities. We had a fantastic turnout of entrepreneurs who were eager to test the market and get feedback on their businesses. Below is the list of students that participated in the event. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported these student entrepreneurs, and we’re already looking forward to the next Terp Marketplace in spring!

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Find Your Friends and Cool Events with Terp Startup Flee

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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Flee

Didac Hormiga, a rising junior at University of Maryland, is the founder and CEO of Flee (Find Local Events and Entertainment), a location-based social media app that helps people find events and entertainment happening around them. As a marketing and information systems double-major with a minor in technology entrepreneurship and a knack for design (he designed the wireframes for the app himself), Didac’s diverse skillset is complemented by his CTO, Ian Sawyer, whom he met while interning at Talk Local. Together, they’re developing a platform with features such as video stories, discounts and transportation options that provide convenient benefits to both users and venues who partner with the app. Friends find cool events to attend together, venues gain access to an effective marketing channel, and everyone gets to have fun.

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Catch Up with this Semester’s Crop of Fearless Founders

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The spring season is a time for growth, and there is no exception at the Dingman Center. Each spring semester we welcome not one, but two cohorts of aspiring entrepreneurs to watch their business ideas grow under our Fearless Founders program. Students come to an Idea Shell to validate their idea through repeated testing until they are able to form a minimum viable product. Once they reach the Hatch phase, they continue to iterate on their idea by fine-tuning their business model and market segment until it’s ready to launch.

Read on for a list of all the ideas growing in Idea Shell and Hatch this semester.

Idea Shell

Adaptive Audio – Javed Akthar Shaik, Abhishek Velayudham, Praneeth Chandu
Beat’n Coffee – Asad Masood, Khaled Nurhssien
The Beauty of I am… – Shanazar Dupuy Sandy
Ashley Ellis
Cali Club – Joey Hurm
College Cleaning –  Michaela Clarke
Dibble – Roman Fuentes
Emprology, LLC – Sydney Parker
GROTechnologies – Abeeb Ayodeji
NPO Connect – Akhil Gupta
pecunia – Amartyo Sen
Plus Interest – William Singelstad
Rapha – Andrae Wiggins
Record Venture – Duk Shin
Recyclify – Charlie Barton, Ardy Djourabtchi
See Food – Oluwatamilore Olafunmiloye
The SPARC Initiative – Taj Keshav
Wedding Planner – Sandhya Taneja
Yomil – Alexandra Gbozia

Hatch

You may recognize some of the Fearless Founders below. Nina Silverstein and Babafemi Adegbite’s social ventures 2B and Re-Empower have been profiled on our blog. afterclass and FroDoh were Pitch Dingman Competition semifinalists, and POSH and Grumpy Joes made it to the final round. Carpo’s app launch was featured in The Diamondback. Stay tuned for more great things from this Hatch cohort!

2B – Nina Silverstein
afterclass – Uday Misra
Carpo – Alec Aronwald
Dark Sonar – George Lee, Simon Schlegel
Feast – Arsalaan Ali, Stephen Frocke, Christina Michael
FroDoh – Alexandra Cimino
Grumpy Joes – Gary Hwang
Line-a-day – Benjamin Taragin
Pangea Medical – Ariel Efergan, Jacob Pollack
POSH – Nathalyn Nunoo
re: Fresh – Carl Comasco
Re-Empower – Babafemi Adegbite
ROOTS – Salvador Fawkes, Elizabeth Gilahuanco, Nebafabs Nwafor
Smith Store – Duk Shin
Terra Bella – Georges Colbert, Val Csontos
Think About It – Von Bell
Tommy Wares – Thomas Piantone


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Capital One provides seed funding to exemplary entrepreneurs in the
Idea Shell and Hatch programs.

Pitch Dingman Competition Finals Rundown

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The Pitch Dingman Competition Finals were on Tuesday, March 7 and as promised the Dingman Center and our partners gave away more than $30,000 in startup funding! Here’s the breakdown:

The David & Robyn Quattrone Grand Prize – $15,000
Curu, David Potter & Abb Kapoor

Second Place Prize – $7,500
CourseHunter, Aaron Bloch, Benjamin Khakshoor

Third Place Prize – $3,500
Gravity LLC, Richard Kong

Audience Choice Prize – $1,500
Curu, David Potter & Abb Kapoor

Runners Up
Grumpy Joes, Gary Hwang
POSH, Nathalyn Nunoo

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What’s New with Kanvasroom Co-Founder Aaron Pludwinski

by: Megan McPherson

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This past November, Fearless Founder alumni Aaron Pludwinski ’16 and his co-founder Derien Scott ’17 launched Kanvasroom, a cloud-based communication tool that’s optimized for digital media creatives. The idea for Kanvasroom took shape three years ago while the founders were exploring their own creative pursuits—Aaron in video post-production and Derien in music production—and realized a niche for a website where creatives from around the world could come together and collaborate on projects. Rather than looking to replace existing tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, Skype, Paypal or Basecamp, they envisioned a website where many of the most basic needs these applications provide could exist in one space. The result would maximize efficiency and improve communication, leaving more time and energy for content creation. Eager to act on their idea, they joined the Spring 2015 cohort of Idea Shell, ultimately moving through Fearless Founders on to Hatch in Spring 2016 until Aaron graduated and moved back to his hometown of Miami.

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Kanvasroom’s co-founders: Derien Scott and Aaron Pludwinski

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Introducing the Pitch Dingman Competition Finalists

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The Semifinal round of Pitch Dingman Competition saw its biggest turnout ever this year. Over 300 people packed into Frank Auditorium, popcorn in hand, to watch their friends and fellow students compete for the night’s award opportunities. With only 4 minutes to pitch and 2 minutes to answer questions from the judges, each semifinalist was tasked with communicating their story and value proposition in a short span of time. It was a tough competition, with each team giving an impressive showing. The five teams who made it to the Finals distinguished themselves through sound business models, impressive traction and a clear vision for building their startup. Read on below for a list of the finalists.

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The Rise of Social Enterprise: A Review of “Not Business As Usual”

by: Abraham Sidibe

This past week, the Dingman Center partnered with the Center for Social Value Creation to host a movie screening of “Not Business As Usual”, an informative documentary created by Institute B in 2014 about the transformation of the business world from capitalist to conscious capitalist.  The movie told the stories of several social entrepreneurs who are bringing humanity back into business. Institute B is an entrepreneur accelerator for businesses that put profit and societal value on equal footing as profits. They develop entrepreneurs by providing education, consulting and funding. They are also the same people who helped shape the business cultures of Starbucks, IKEA, and lululemon.

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Miss the screening? Watch the full film here.

The film is an incredible resource for those who want to fix a social problem through business because it documents the history of social business and shares the stories of social entrepreneurs who are working to be a force for positive social and environmental change. One interesting thing I learned from this movie is that sustainability metrics continuously evolve. There is always a way to be more sustainable and have lower impact products, starting with the supply chain. Although there is also no way to have entirely zero impact when producing products, there are ways to minimize those negative effects.

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