Terp Startup Citizens of Earth Wants to Help You Grow an Edible Garden

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the ten student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer accelerator phase of our Fearless Founders 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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Citizens of Earth -logo-01Citizens of Earth

Founder and CEO: Michael Sheehan ’18, Business Management major with a specialization in Entrepreneurship

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

Sheehan: Citizens of Earth has founded a mission to find solutions for sustainable living. Research has proven that our single largest use of land, water and fossil fuels comes from the production, distribution and processing of food. This is a major concern for social and environmental sustainability. As an organization, we provide a solution to improve food sustainability by increasing local and natural food production. Local and naturally grown food reduces waste and pollution associated with industrial food production. We offer a service to install and maintain edible gardens and landscapes. The purpose of our business model is to provide a chemical-free, eco-friendly, and high-quality food supply to homes and community centers. If every home produced seasonal fruit and vegetables we would all begin to live a healthier, happier and more harmonious lifestyle.

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Terp Startup Aurora Tights Celebrates Diversity with Athletic Apparel

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the ten student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer accelerator phase of our Fearless Founders 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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Sydney Parker and Jasmine Snead

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Aurora Tights

CMO: Sydney Parker ’18, Communication major
Co-Founder and CFO: Jasmine Snead ’18, Government and Politics major
Co-Founder and COO: Imani Rickerby ’17, Public Health major

DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?

AT: Aurora Tights is an athletic brand that designs performance sports gear in an array of tones for all complexions and sizes. Currently, all performance athletes, especially those of darker skin tones, do not have appropriate gear to fit their tones and sizes.

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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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Bootstrapped Index Playlist: Startup Branding

The Dingman Center’s Bootstrapped podcast includes episodes ranging on topics from fundraising and marketing to team formation and customer acquisition. We created a helpful index designed to help listeners find episodes featuring the startup fundamentals that are most relevant to their needs and interests. Check out the episode playlist below to hear firsthand from successful entrepreneurs what they learned and implemented to boost their brand identity.

Bootstrapped Index Branding

Season 1, Episode 10 – Coffee Talk with the JavaZen Co-Founders: Building a Lifestyle Brand
Special Guests: Eric Golman ’16, Co-founder & Chief Energy Officer, JavaZen
Ryan Schueler ’16, Co-founder & Chief Relationship Officer, JavaZen

The pitch: Two recent graduate co-founders discuss how they situated their coffee/tea fusion brand to appeal to their wellness focused customers.


Season 2, Episode 16 – Social Venture Misfit Juicery on Leveraging Your Social Capital
Special Guests: Ann Yang, Co-Founder MISFIT Juicery & Phil Wong, Co-Founder, MISFIT Juicery

The pitch: Co-founders of a cold-press juice business discuss how accentuating their mission to fight food waste in their branding gives their product a competitive edge.

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That’s a Wrap! Spring 2018 at the Dingman Center

With the academic year drawing to a close this past weekend, we’ve had some time to reflect on the numerous events and programs we’ve held throughout the semester. The community has impressed us once again with their enthusiasm, passion and dedication to entrepreneurship throughout spring. Here are some featured highlights from our events, and be on the lookout for upcoming interviews with the student entrepreneurs in our Summer 2018 Terp Startup Cohort.

Feb. 13 – Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series: Young Founders Panel

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We kicked off the spring semester with an exciting Hisaoka Speaker Series featuring an intimate conversation between Robert Hisaoka ’79 and four young entrepreneurs from the UMD community: Ali von Paris ’12 of Route One Apparel, Evan Lutz ’14 of Hungry Harvest, and Brandon Deyo and Bradley Deyo of Mars Reel. During the panel, these entrepreneurs shared some of the insights and challenges they faced while turning their dorm room ventures into successful businesses. Read our full recap on the Young Founders Panel here.

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3 Key Lessons from the Inaugural Ladies First Founders Cohort

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From left: Fiona Whitefield, Jasmine Snead, Natalie Urban, Yinyin Liao, Jess Rosenthal, Sara Herald, Sydney Parker, Audrey Awasom, Megha Guggari, Maria Chen & Breonna Massey

Last week, the inaugural cohort of Ladies First Founders gave presentations on their entrepreneurial journeys. Each female student reflected not only on the growth of their business, but also on how they have personally grown since joining the class. Presentations were followed by feedback from the rest of the cohort, and for every young woman who presented, each of her peers had something uniquely positive to compliment about her confidence, delivery, style or attitude. Witnessing these women celebrate one another and show empathy for their shared struggles was a beautiful experience.

Throughout the presentations, it was evident that before Ladies First Founders, many of these women suffered in isolation from shared issues that, once together, they were able to properly identify and work to overcome. Here are some of the greatest outcomes of taking workshops and connecting with fellow female entrepreneurs in Ladies First Founders:

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Fearless Founder Ryan Pillai Attends MIT’s Sloan Investment Conference

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2016 Pitch Dingman Competition winner Ryan Pillai

Through a Dingman Center grant, last month, Fearless Founder Ryan Pillai `19 traveled to MIT for the Sloan Investment Conference which took place at the Sloan School of Business. Below is Ryan’s first-hand account of the experience.

The annual Sloan Investment Conference brings together investment professionals from different industries and fosters education and meaningful discussions on hot button topics in finance.  This year, the theme was “Value Creation and Shareholder Engagement” with a broad range of ideas from Big Data and AI in the quant investment space to a crypto investment debate. Panel speakers included well renowned speakers from MIT and large private funds, many of whom engaged the audience with a friendly light air, which was refreshing and kept the conference from feeling exhaustive.

There was a lot of technical information presented so having a background in finance was a prerequisite to attending (surprise!). Nevertheless, I was able to somewhat keep up with the jargon with the occasional Google search. Here are some of my key takeaways from the talks that I wanted to share.

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Gender & Entrepreneurship at the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

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Left to right: Mabel Abraham, David Ross, Dolly Oberoi and Rajshree Agarwal

by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

On Friday April 20th, at the 14th Annual Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference chaired by Professors Anil Gupta and David Kirsch, the Dingman Center’s Ladies First Initiative sponsored a panel discussion, “Gender and Entrepreneurship: Past, Present and Future.”

Sara Herald, our Ladies First champion, shared a thought-provoking statement to introduce the panel discussion: she described the mission of the Ladies First initiative as focused upon understanding the different barriers that female students face and how we can fix the system, not fix the women.

This was an apt introduction to spur further investigation in the area of gender and entrepreneurship, which brought 2 researchers, Mabel Abraham from Columbia University and David Ross from University of Florida, together with Dolly Oberoi, Co-Founder and Chairman of C2 Technologies, to discuss the topic of female entrepreneurship in the US.

The session chair and moderator, Rajshree Agarwal, asked salient questions and highlighted the reality that being a female founder has nearly universally negative outcomes, particularly  in the US. As researchers and founders discussed the hypotheses and reasons for this, something became increasingly clear—even though the barriers have been reduced, it is a misconception to think that the barriers are gone.

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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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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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