Category Archives: Terp Toolkit

Terp Toolkit: How To Attract & Hire The Right Talent

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.  Interested in additional business guidance or have a startup idea? Come to Dingman Fridays for feedback from our experienced venture mentors, or consider applying to our Fearless Founders accelerator. You can also learn about the startup world and discover stories from real founders through our Bootstrapped podcast and Washington Post: Business Rx index.

by: Eric Elliot

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Resources to Help Find Talent:

  • Utilize Teachers and Mentors – Teachers and mentors are a fantastic resource to utilize when it comes to finding new talent. Not only will they have extensive networks that they can pull from, but if you both get along well, they’ll probably go out of their way to find someone that fits the needs of your startup. At the very least, they’ll keep their eye out for anyone they run into that could help you out.
  • Find Relevant Channels – There are a multitude of different mediums that you can use to attract talent. If you’re a student, for example, take advantage of the opportunities and communities within your school: reach out to the business clubs on campus, participate on social media and job boards, attend events that will allow you to meet and recruit potential talent, etc. Being proactive will go a long way in building awareness for your startup and attracting the right personnel. In addition, check out the various jobs and events around MD through the Dingman Center’s biweekly newsletter, The Pitch.
  • Go to Startup & Networking Events  – Take advantage of networks and talent pools in your area! Go to local startup and networking events and connect with other entrepreneurs and business people. Attendees at these events are usually more than happy to help younger startups trying to grow, and they’ll often have a vast wealth of contacts with the skills you’re looking for that they can put you in touch with.
  • Leverage Your Own Personal Network –  When it comes to hiring talent, consider who’s already within your own personal network. Do you already know someone who has the skills you’re looking for? Do any of your friends know someone that you could get in touch with? Have you looked through your LinkedIn connections and reached out? You know a lot more people than you think, so take time to go through your connections and explore the options already open to you.

Things To Consider When Hiring:

  •  Focus on Passion Over Talent –  Be wary of hiring somebody based just on their talents alone. While it may be great for someone to have a 4.1 GPA, tons of experience and plenty of accolades, if the desire and vision aren’t there, they aren’t going to be the best possible fit for your startup. You can always teach someone job skills, but passion for a business or industry is innate.
  • What You Can’t Offer In Salary, You Can Offer In Experience – As a startup, it’s more than likely that you won’t be able to pay a new hire an extensive amount of money. Most people will probably understand this when applying, but let candidates know that they’ll have an actual impact with real and visible effects on your company. They’ll play a vital role in shaping the success of your business, and the experience that they’ll gain from working for you will be invaluable to them in the future.
  • Timing Is Critical – Timing plays a huge role in determining whether or not your hire will be successful. If you hire someone too early, you run the risk of not having a suitable infrastructure for them to work within. If you hire them too late, however, then you may miss key opportunities to use your new hire that you could’ve capitalized on earlier. The best time to hire someone is right before you actually need them, so to take steps to ensure that you’re hiring the right personnel at the right time.


Eric Elliot is the Marketing Intern at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Eric is currently a junior pursuing a degree in Marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and is part of the Strategic Design and Innovation Fellows. In his spare time, you can find Eric reading, drinking coffee, or playing the newest video games.


Terp Toolkit: Incorporating Social Impact into Your Business Model

by: Sara Herald

Social impact, long considered to be the exclusive territory of nonprofits, is becoming an integral part of for-profit businesses across the globe.  From huge corporations like Unilever to local startups like Misfit Juicery, generating both profits and social good is gaining acceptance as good business practice.

This shift isn’t necessarily based in moral arguments such as “it’s the right thing to do”, but rather in solid business fundamentals: that’s what customers want.  As more and more Millennials enter adulthood, they want to start up, work at, and buy from companies working to achieve social good.  84% of Millennials “consider a company’s involvement in social causes in deciding what to buy or where to shop” and they report “increased trust (91%) and loyalty (89%) in…companies that support solutions to specific social issues.”

If Millennials expect companies they engage with to have more than one bottom line, how can aspiring entrepreneurs of all kinds deliver on those expectations? The key lies in moving from a donations mindset to an operations mindset.
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Terp Toolkit: Legal and Intellectual Property Tips for Entrepreneurs

There is no entrepreneur in the world who won’t need legal guidance at some point in their entrepreneurial journey.

For simple legal matters such as incorporation or basic start-up paperwork, services such as LegalZoom, LawDepot or RocketLawyer are a good place to start.

9400252-contract-for-business-law-on-terms-of-agreementHowever, for more complicated matters like establishing a Privacy Policy, Terms of Use Agreement, or other documents tailored to your business, it may be worth consulting an attorney. If you are running short of funds, you can utilize RocketLawyer’s “Ask a Lawyer” feature.  You can get the answers to simple questions for free and find lawyers near you that charge reasonable prices for their services. Continue reading

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Terp Toolkit: Financing Your Startup

Financing is a hurdle faced by nearly every entrepreneur and can the need for funding can occur at various stages of a company’s life cycle. It’s important to know what options are available, as well as the risks that come with each.

indexSome common methods of financing include:

  •  Friends & Family – Many early stage companies raise a “friends & family” round, relying on the networks of the startup’s founders for seed capital.
  • Crowdfunding – If you are selling a product or service that you think would appeal directly to consumers and you need capital to fund your business, consider crowdfunding as an option. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo , and  Gofundme allow you to post your “project” for viewing by thousands of potential funders in exchange for a percentage share of your money raised.images
  • Contests & Grants – A great way to get funds for your start-up without giving up equity is to apply to contests and grants. In this article Forbes offers some tips for those seeking grants.  A tip: follow entrepreneurship organizations and centers, accelerators, and VC firms / angel groups on social media for posts about local contests.
  • Small Business Loans – This option is most effective if you have been in business for a while and are generating some cash flow.  For those who meet these requirements, the Small Business Administration offers different types of loans to help you grow your business. angel2
  • Angel Investors – For early stage companies with an ability to scale quickly and high growth potential, there is the option of raising a round from angel investors. There are many angel investors, both individuals and groups, who invest ~$25B each year in early stage companies. Most angel deals are done with companies who have either successful beta testing or initial revenues. Deals range from straight equity to convertible notes.
  • Venture Capital Firms – For later stage start-ups with a proven track record of success who are seeking to reach the next level, raising venture capital funds can be the right next step. The total Venture Capital market is ~$45B, invested in a variety of industries and stages.  You can check out the VC100 for a look at the top 100 venture capital firms in the U.S. Researching the right firms for your company stage and industry is essential when raising VC funds.  Looking at the funding history for similar companies to yours on CrunchBase or AngelList  can be a good place to start your research.

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Terp Toolkit: Accounting for Your Startup

When launching a business, often there are a variety of start-up costs to track. Being organized on the front-end with your startup’s finances will pay off in the long-run.

accounting_webThere are several tools at a variety of price points that will help you keep your financial records. Here are some startup-friendly resources: Continue reading

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Terp Toolkit: Marketing Your Startup

Startup marketing can involve a variety of different activities, from the creation of promotional materials to Search Engine Optimization. Given limited time and resources, particularly among student entrepreneurs, it can be overwhelming to think about where to start.

Your marketing focus will depend upon the nature of your business and your target customer. For a fairly comprehensive list of marketing tools and resources, for everything from Advertising to Analytics, check out The Essential List of Start-up Marketing Resources.



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Terp Toolkit: Finding Office Space for Your Startup

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.

Shared office spaces are popular among start-ups and an excellent way to find workspace without breaking the bank. Co-working spaces also often provide perks and resources beyond a desk, including: internet, conference space, area discounts, access to a network of business people and investors, kitchens, and even free snacks and coffee.

Startup-OfficeA few options to check out include:

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Terp Toolkit: Getting Started

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.

Do you have an exciting business idea or startup that is gaining traction, but not quite sure how to get started with managing your growing venture? In this installment of Terp Toolkit, we’ll cover the basics — such as web hosting, development, phone, and email — which are essential to scaling your startup.

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Thinking about applying to a business competition? Five tips from Elana Fine

For b-schools, incubators and other organizations that support startups, business competitions are very hot right now. For entrepreneurs, they can be great opportunities to flex your entrepreneurial muscles and gain traction for your startup or business idea.

CC-04Apr14-635_hr However, with a seemingly endless list of competitions to choose from and limited time, how do you decide which competitions to enter?

Here are five things to consider from Dingman Center Managing Director, Elana Fine:

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Terp Toolkit: Building the Right Entrepreneurial Board

Research by Christine Beckman, Originally published in Research@Smith, Volume 15, No 1

Entrepreneurial boards typically stay actively involved in the growth of a new venture and can be critical to the company’s success. So it is important for startups to know which types of people they should offer board seats to.

boardChristine Beckman, associate professor of management and organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and Academic Director at UMD’s Center for Social Value Creation, looked at the influence of entrepreneurial boards and the makeup that helps startups grow quickly in a paper she co-coauthored for Academy of Management Journal. The authors followed 105 semiconductor firms founded in the United States from 1977 through 1990 to see how well the companies did and how the inaugural board members impacted success.

Continue reading for key findings from Professor Beckman’s study and takeaways to build an effective board for your startup.

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