By Alla Corey, Program Manager at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
Originally posted in the Smith School Part-Time MBA Blog.
While there are plenty of business plan competitions, the Cupid’s Cup Business Competition is the only one of its kind – students must be beyond writing a plan and have an operating business. This raises the bar significantly and makes the competition a lot more interesting.
Judged and sponsored by Kevin Plank’96, founder and CEO or Under Armour, Cupid’s Cup was launched in 2006 and has grown from a small event in Van Munching Hall to a national competition and showcase with 1,000 attendees.
This year the event was held April 5 at UMD’s College Park campus, hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Six finalist startups from across the nation had six minutes to deliver a business pitch to Plank and a panel of five other judges in front of 1,000 attendees at UMD’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The audience also heard Plank’s words of inspiration on building a business as he rallied the entrepreneurs in attendance.
The University of Maryland’s Earth Starter, maker of the Nourishmat modular garden kit, took home $52,500 as the Grand Prize Winner and Audience Choice Award Winner. Earth Starter will also benefit from exclusive access to Plank’s professional network, one of the added bonuses of winning this year’s expanded competition.
Here is the breakdown of all winners:
$50,000, 1st place: Earth Starter LLC, University of Maryland – maker of products to accelerate and simplify growth and yield for garden
$15,000, 2nd place: CoverPlay LLC, University of Virginia – maker of an ultra-thin Bluetooth speaker for mobile devices called the Mojo
$5,000, 3rd place: Diagnostic anSERS, University of Maryland – maker of ink-jet printed sensors for detecting trace amounts of chemicals, from explosives to narcotics
$2,500, Audience Choice Award, decided by text voting during the event – Earth Starter LLC (sponsored by Sam Medile ’80, a successful entrepreneur and former Terp student athlete)
Medile also sponsored a $5,000 prize for the University of Maryland company who best leveraged all of the university’s resources in launching their company, which went to Diagnostic anSERS. UMD applicants who made it to the semifinal round of Cupid’s Cup were eligible.
The day also included the Business & Innovation Showcase, sponsored by BB&T, highlighting more than 50 campus and regional startups and entrepreneurship organizations in a lively tradeshow format at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center
Cupid’s Cup is named for a Valentine’s Day rose delivery business Plank started as a student at the university. As an athlete, he wasn’t permitted to have an outside job, so he turned to entrepreneurship. Plank worked with the Dingman Center to start a business competition to foster similar student entrepreneurship.
The competition was open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at accredited U.S. colleges and universities who are running companies that have generated at least $5,000 in revenue or have a version 1.0 product with proof of traction. Entrepreneurs from 25 universities in 16 states entered the competition. The finalists received intensive coaching from successful entrepreneurs to prepare for the final competition.
Other Cupid’s Cup finalists were Hole Patch LLC from Case Western Reserve University, a developer of a new method for patching potholes; Moolaguides.com from Florida State University, provider of a service for college students to buy and sell class notes; and Neural Analytics from the University of California Los Angeles, a developer of a portable non-invasive medical device to diagnose traumatic brain injuries on the football field or the battlefield.
Interested in competing in next year’s Cupid’s Cup? Visit www.CupidsCup.com for updates about the application deadline and other details.