Category Archives: student entrepreneur

Takeaways from Cohort 2 of Ladies First Founders

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Today marks the last class of the semester for Ladies First Founders, a one-credit course led by Sara Herald, the Dingman Center’s associate director for social entrepreneurship. Last year, Sara launched Ladies First Founders as part of the Center’s Ladies First initiative to get more women engaged in entrepreneurship programming at University of Maryland. Ladies First Founders provides a platform for aspiring female and non-binary founders across campus to come together, find community and learn strategies for overcoming the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Last week, each female founder in the course provided perspective on their journey this semester to a room of their peers, Dingman Center staff and mentors. While many made significant progress on developing their ideas, all of these young women reflected on the value of the course for their own personal growth. Below are some notes on each of the founders, their ideas and their journeys.

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OnCall Reflects on Participating in Hult@UMD

We’re very excited to feature a piece written by the winners of the 2019 “Hult@UMD” competition, as they reflect on their experience from the initial concept for their idea all the way to competing at the Regional level of the Hult Prize in Boston.

How to Change the World: One Pitch at a Time

By Rasheeq Rayhan, MBA ’20

It all started with a lunch at Rudy’s Café on a fine November afternoon. My friend Alex Woo, a Master of Biomedical Engineering Candidate and Robert Fischell Institute Fellow, was working on a project to build a new medical device. We started to explore the implications of such a device if it were introduced in a developing country, where medical technology was mostly outdated, number of skilled doctors was inadequate and primary healthcare was highly expensive.

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Announcing the Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum 2019 Cohort

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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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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Synapto

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 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 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Christopher Look and Megha Guggari

Synapto

Dhruv Patel ’20, CEO
Chris Look ’20, CTO
Anoop Patel ’20, Lead R&D Engineer
David Boegner ’20, Lead Systems Engineer
Megha Guggari ’20, Lead Software Engineer

DC: Tell us about your startup. Synapto.png

Synapto: Synapto is using next generation brainwave scanning technologies in conjunction with AI to make Alzheimer’s diagnosis more accessible, streamlined, and effective.

DC: Have there been some key decisions or milestones along the way that have led you from an idea to now pitching for $15K?

Synapto: We’ve been working on this for about 2 years now, and have been recognized by several institutions like NIH and media outlets like Forbes. Recognizing our methods are worth pursuing has led us to pitch for $15,000 to help further drive product development.

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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: OpenPoll

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 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 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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OpenPoll

Zachary Wynegar ’19, Founder & CEO

DC: Tell us about your startup.

OPENPOLLLogo.pngZW: OpenPoll is a startup focused on changing the way opinion data is collected. Unlike other online survey tools, OpenPoll allows decision makers to distribute surveys using push notifications, see who hasn’t responded, and gather responses easily. Users heavily prefer OpenPoll over other survey tools due to the ease of use, short length, and rewards they earn for taking polls. Within a minute of publishing a poll, decision makers begin getting real time information from their audience without sending a single email. We offer completely free options for associations, with almost no limits.

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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Solr Tech

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 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 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Solr Tech

Alexei Onufrak ’20, Co-founder and President

DC: Tell us about your startup.

solrtech_logo_transparent-01AO: There is a demand for power no matter where you are. Every electronic device you own is subject to a dead battery when you least expect it. Solr Tech has created the most versatile, powerful, and convenient way to transform any outdoor patio umbrella into a solar charging station. Whether it’s by the pool, on campus, or at a cafe, people have an easy way to charge their mobile devices, and businesses benefit from increased customer retention and customer experience.

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Introducing the Spring 2019 Cohort of Ladies First Founders

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On Tuesday afternoons, the Smith School’s executive board room is taken over by the second cohort of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First Founders program, a group of nine young women united by their experiences as female entrepreneurs. At the head of the room’s imposing conference table sits adjunct professor Sara Herald, MBA ’11, 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.

This year, the Ladies First Founders were paired with expert female mentors to help guide their entrepreneurial journeys. The theme of this year’s Ladies First initiative is centered around role models, and these successful women provide an inspiring template for the cohort to follow. Over the course of the semester, we’ll be catching up with these student founders to see how their venture ideas have progressed under the guidance of professor Sara Herald and their mentors.

Read on to learn more about the diverse group of female founders and businesses that make up the Spring 2019 Ladies First Founders cohort:

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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: crepkitchen

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 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 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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CrepKitchen

Mathew Steininger ’22, Founder & CEO

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DC: Tell us about your startup.

MS: The latest limited-edition Jordan shoe is released, and thousands of sneakerheads around the world run into the same dreaded message: sold out. They were either minutes too slow, or they were unaware this release was happening at all. Then, in a few hours, the sneaker is restocked, but for the final time, it very quickly becomes sold out again. Many sneakerheads run into this problem with every limited release.

crepkitchen solves this problem by making sure users don’t miss out on these releases. We offer an online subscription service that instantly notifies users of product restocks and other essential information for limited edition sneakers and clothing releases before they sell out. This guarantees that all of our customers are best prepared to succeed during any limited edition releases.

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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Aurora Tights

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 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 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Imani Rickerby & Jasmine Snead at the Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals

Aurora Tights

Jasmine Snead ’19, Co-Founder & CFO – Finalist
Imani Rickerby ’17, Co-Founder & COO
Sydney Parker ’18, CMO

DC: Tell us about your startup.

Aurora Tights Title Logo-01Jasmine Snead: Aurora Tights designs performance apparel for dancers and ice skaters of all skin tones, shapes, and sizes. The Aurora team is comprised of a solo figure skater, a synchronized ice skater, and a dancer. As competitive athletes, we were forced to wear tights, mesh, and other paraphernalia in the wrong skin tone because our shades were not readily available. The lack of color variety posed a drawback for performance athletes because it is not aesthetically appealing to the eye and it’s frustrating to practice your passion while feeling like you’re in someone else’s skin. Additionally, overall appearance is judged in performance sports, unlike in traditional sports. In the words of Olympian Johnny Weir, “Aesthetics are still a part of the subjective scoring in figure skating.” His words are true in figure skating and in other performance sports as well.

As a solution, I learned to dye my tights to match my complexion. Years and a stained bathroom later, my mom and I perfected the process of dyeing tights and would do so before each competition. Self-dyeing is an option for athletes, but it is messy, time-consuming, expensive, and experimental to find the right shade. That is why there is a strong need for Aurora Tights to simplify the tight buying process for women of all skin tones and sizes. We believe buying tights in your shade should be as easy clicking “add to cart” online or shopping at your local sporting goods store.

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Spotlight on Role Models at the Third Annual Ladies First Fall Dinner

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by: Megan McPherson, Events & Marketing Manager

The Ladies First Fall Dinner is the flagship event of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First initiative to expose more female students at University of Maryland to entrepreneurship. Each year, it attracts young women from all across campus for an evening where they can explore the unique challenges and strengths shared by women as they look to launch companies or lead them post-graduation. The third annual Ladies First Fall Dinner on November 1 in Van Munching Hall focused on “role models”, introducing a room comprised solely of female undergraduate students to two inspirational female founders in the cosmetics industry: alumna and serial entrepreneur Mary Schulman ’97, co-founder of PYT Beauty; and current student Brianna Queen ’19, founder of BEEQBOX and second place winner of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition. In a fireside chat moderated by associate director and Ladies First leader Sara Herald, MBA ’11, Brianna and Mary shared their inspiring founder stories and imparted valuable wisdom to 65 student attendees. Below are some of the recurring themes that both entrepreneurs touched upon during the discussion.

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