Tag Archives: dingman center

Worth Reading 10/11/13

This week was busy for the Dingman Center. Our Assistant Director of Venture Programs, Joel Marquis attended the Venture Capital Investment Competition Information Session. We also had this month’s Dingman Center Angels investor meeting at the Microsoft Offices in Chevy Chase.

Today, we have weekly Innovation Fridays sessions, legal office hours, and Speed Pitch with ten guest advisors. Like our Facebook Page for highlights from this week’s events.

Now, let`s check out this week’s Worth Reading.

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Worth Reading 9/20/13

This week we attended the First Look Fair, one of the longest running involvement traditions at UMD, to introduce new students to the Dingman Center. We were lucky to have a booth next to our friends at the Academy of Innovation & Entrepreneurship who joined is in celebrating the new campus-wide Innovation Fridays!

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Now, check out what we think is worth reading this week.

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Dog Days are Over: Part 1

How is it that the first day of school always feels the same? No matter how old you are or where you are from, you know what I mean. You walk outside and the air feels a bit crisper than the day before. It might be 90 degrees, but the morning always brings a chill and a nostalgic reminder of the annual nervous excitement a new school year brings. And yet, despite new classes, new clothes, new friends and, if you are lucky a new Trapper Keeper, when you walk in the building the energy is familiar and reassuring.

At the Dingman Center, we too are greeting the new school year with nervous excitement.  We took advantage of the quiet dog days in Van Munching to revamp and reenergize our programs, team and brand. As we reopen our doors, our community will see an office space that reflects our warmth and creativity, experience programs that reflect our collaborative nature and entrepreneurial spirit and new team members that share our passion and commitment.

But, like the nostalgic feeling of the first day of school, the Dingman Center is always the Dingman Center. Entrepreneurship may come in and out of style like skinny jeans, but the Dingman Center and our commitment to entrepreneurs has remained constant for 27 years. Our players aren’t always the same, our programs grow and change over time, but last week, on our first day, the energy in the Dingman Center was familiar and reassuring.  It reminded me why we worked so hard all summer to bring you the new and improved Dingman Center we promised last spring.

So what did we do this summer?

New (ish) Office
Our office space reflects the culture of our community of remarkable entrepreneurs. Our walls represent quotes that move us and inspire us. Framed words reflect our vocabulary. Fresh whiteboard paint awaits your Fearless Ideas. Toys show our playfulness and sense of humor.

New Team Members
Two of this year’s key strategic initiatives are to strengthen our community and to position our programs at the intersection of curriculum, practice and research. To help us achieve this vision, we have made two key hires that will build stronger, ongoing relationships between our external community and our faculty partners.

Adam Van Wagner ‘11, Community & Venture Programs Coordinator –  Co-Founder of 2011 Cupid’s Cup winner MyFridgeRental.com who will facilitate connections between all of our constituencies.

Alyse Carter ‘11, Dingman Center & M&O Coordinator- a thoughtful and hardworking Terp who will support Center operations and coordinate efforts with entrepreneurship faculty.

Become part of our connected community of entrepreneurs.
Our team and our programs have always been half of our story. The spirit and success of the Dingman Center relies on you. Stop by our offices, follow us on Facebook, and Twitter, attend our events and refer your friends and colleagues.

The chill is in the air…don’t be nervous..be excited and Be Fearless.

-Elana

ElanaFineElana Fine (@elanafine) was appointed Managing Director of the Dingman Center in July 2012, after joining the team in 2010 as Director of Venture Investments. As Managing Director, Elana’s primary focus is leading the Dingman Center in support of its mission and strategic plan. Key responsibilities include oversight of our student venture incubator, Dingman Center Angels investor network, business competitions, and technology commercialization efforts. Elana also develops and maintains relationships with donors, board members, EIRs, the Smith School community and other campus and regional partners. She is also serving as co-chair of the Dean’s Task Force on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and will be working with our Academic Director to expand the Dingman Center’s research activities and curriculum development.

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Worth Reading 9/6/13

As UMD undergrads started the new semester this week, the Dingman Center saw many old and new students coming to visit. During the summer, we worked diligently to make quite a few changes, one of which is Innovation Fridays, formerly known as Pitch Dingman. The experience is the same, only the name has changed. Students can pitch their ideas and receive feedback from experienced Entrepreneurs in Residence. We are excited to kick off Innovation Fridays today and expect to see more students this year! Now, enjoy this edition of worth reading.

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Worth Reading 8/23/13

Today we close out a week of Dingman Jumpstart. We’ve hosted some talented entrepreneurs with creative ideas. Check out this post on some of the entrepreneurs who have shared their stories with our students this week. We also continued our summer redecoration project. Stop by to see if you made the History of Dingman wall.

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Now, check out what we think is worth reading this week.

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Community of Entrepreneurs Share Their Experiences at Dingman Jumpstart

It’s been an exciting week so far at Dingman Jumpstart. We’re seeing some of the areas brightest entrepreneurs with some game-changing ideas. The participants have attended several workshops and panels but there are two that stand out: one with seasoned entrepreneurs and one with entrepreneurs fresh in the game. Take a look at who we lined up to inspire our group of Jumpstart participants.

Learning From the Mistakes of Successful Entrepreneurs
On Wednesday, we featured two of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, Jason Shrensky and Ed Barrientos. The entrepreneurs shared their experiences starting successful businesses as well as the mistakes they made along the way.

Untitled-2Jason Shrensky (@shrensky), Co-Founder, Uber Offices
Jason Shrensky is a local entrepreneur and angel investor who joined the Dingman Center team as an Angel in Residence in 2011. In addition to actively investing in early-stage companies, he splits his time between two startups that he recently co-founded: ÜberOffices and ComplexInterests. ÜberOffices provides co-working office space in the DC Metro area predominantly for early-stage technology and media companies. At ComplexInterests, Jason is working on developing a unique enterprise software package targeted at accounting, law, and financial services firms.

Elena Fine's Entrepreneur Roundtable with Ed and Jason, photographed for the Robert H. Smith School of Business at Van Munching Hall in College Park MD, 26 April 2013.

Ed Barrientos (@SnowCrash65), CEO, Brazen Careerist
Ed Barrientos is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Brazen Careerist, a career focused social networking site targeting Gen Y. He is also Managing Partner of Zeitgeist Holdings, L.L.C., an angel investment firm focused on investing in early stage technology companies. From 1996 to 2005, he was President and CEO of Arc Second Inc., a high growth market leader in the field of laser based, high-precision GPS. Barrientos led Arc Second to a successful exit (acquired by Metris NV of Belgium) at the end of 2005. He sat on the Board of Directors of Metris NV, and worked as an active Board member through the Company’s IPO (2006) and its acquisition by Nikon (Japan) in 2009.

Learning From Young Entrepreneurs
To close out the week on Friday, we will be joined by a group of young entrepreneurs still fresh in the game. Their startups have experienced success, but they are still knee-deep in the daily operations of running their companies. 

Justin Baer, Founder, Check In Easy (@checkineasy)
Justin Baer, New York University graduate and entrepreneur, has launched the guest list and event check in app Check In Easy. The idea was born from social business venture, CharityHappenings.org and CharityHappenings Ticketing clients who were fed up with the inefficiency of paper check-in. Prior to founding Check In Easy, Justin launched CharityHappenings.org LLC, a social business venture providing the non-profit sector with a web-based master calendar, ticketing service and supplier directory.

Aaron Epstein (@aaron_epstein), Co-Founder and CPO, Creative Market
Aaron Epstein co-founded Creative Market, a platform for hand crafted, mousemade  and easily accessible design content from independent creatives around the world. A designer, developer, jack of all trades and Robert H. Smith School of Business alumnus, Aaron claims to be fueled by avocados and cheerios. 

Rami Essaid (@ramiessaid), Co-Founder, Distil Networks
Rami began his career as the founder and CEO of Chit Chat Communications. After a successful exit, he consulted in mobile development. With over 11 years in communications, network security, and infrastructure management, Rami advised enterprise companies to help improve scalability and reliability while maintaining a high level of security. Rami attended North Carolina State University where he majored in computer engineering.

Kevin Lenane (@kevinlenane), Founder & CEO, Veenome
Kevin Lenane is an experienced project manager with a keen sense of how location, platform, and portability play in to the mobile experience for businesses and consumers. Kevin has worked with clients at PointAbout including OnStar, the Huffington Post, FEMA, and the ESRB. Prior to PointAbout, Kevin was part of the product management team behind the location management platform NAVTEQ.

Elise Whang (@elisewhang), Founder, SNOBSWAP
SNOBSWAP was first inspired by Elise’s hunt for a pre-loved Chanel handbag, when she found herself dreaming about a website where members could swap or sell their designer clothes and accessories. Elise, hailing from a highly successful law background, decided to join forces with her sister Emily, an MBA with a deep luxury retail background and passion for all things designer. Uniting complementary strengths, expertise, and vision made for a perfectly tailored business venture. 

 

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Dingman Center Angels: A Year in Review

The Dingman Center Angels connects regional startup companies seeking seed and early-stage funding with angel investors. In this special edition of Worth Reading, we are featuring an info-graphic showing the metrics from this year’s investment season.

DCA Year Review (1)

Background on the companies Dingman Center Angel members invested in from September 2012 to August 2013.  

  • 6th Street Commerce: focuses on simplifying and streamlining the critical business processes associated with managing a successful E-commerce business.
  • Astrapi Corporation: Astrapi’s patented Compound Channel Coding™ (cCc™) allows for dramatic improvements in communication performance by smoothly integrating periodic and exponential signal parameters.
  • Brazen Careerist: a growing community of connectors, coaches, job-seekers, recruiters and entrepreneurs to help you find your next great opportunity.
  • Cirrus Works: a scalable integrated infrastructure solution that forms the basis of efficient technology management in commercial networking environments.
  • Distil Networks:  protects websites against web scraping, content theft and competitive data mining.
  • E-ISG Asset Intelligence LLC: delivers cost efficient solutions to help customers manage and track their assets so they can reduce costs and improve operation efficiency.
  • ExecOnline: provides every executive at the world’s great companies with access to superb training opportunities.
  • Foodem: an online trading, business intelligence, and process automation solution for the $670 Billion U.S. wholesale food distribution industry.
  • InGo: the revolutionary solution which brings data-driven value to face-to-face sales and marketing. InGo provides Social Event Marketing with Meeting Matching for show growth and guaranteed value for every user.
  • Mobile Systems 7: allows enterprises to securely deploy smartphones and tablets by monitoring deployed systems, securing sensitive data and enforce corporate policies without relying on software agents.
  • Naaya: a game-based social learning platform for Elementary Schools (K-5) focused on global and social studies and 21st Century Skills – Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Character.
  • Nexercise: a free mobile application that rewards users with virtual medals, discounts and free merchandise for good health.
  • Plant Together: a platform to mobilize youth and families, in partnership with other agencies, to plant trees and promote reforestation in critical zones on the African Continent.
  • Riskive: provides enterprise grade security technology dedicated to identifying, monitoring and preventing risk across the socially connected enterprise.
  • Spinnakr: increases click-throughs and conversions by automatically displaying the right message to the right visitor.
  • Visisonics: brings to market state of the art products and solutions in 3D sound capture, analysis and reproduction.
  • YaSabe: connects businesses, Latino culture and community by allowing users to be “in the know” and confidently make choices about how and where to spend their time and money.
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Student Entrepreneur Pursues a Mega Idea for Staying in Shape

Over the last few years, the Dingman Center has been working with Obidi Orakwusi to launch his company, Gym Supreme and its first product the Mega Bar. The Mega Bar is an innovative and versatile piece of exercise equipment priced lower than its competitors. A member of the EnTERPreneur Academy, Orakwusi won a $1,000 grant from the Dingman Center earlier this year. We caught up with the student entrepreneur to get an update on his business.

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How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came to me in May 2011. School was out for the summer, I had no plans, and I realized I probably was not going to have a job. So I thought to myself, “why note create a job?” I got motivated and began sketching the concept of the Mega Bar on the back of a job application.

I designed the Mega Bar with a friend in mind. My friend had no gym membership, so every time he went back to school he had to settle for resistance bands, which are incapable of working the entire body. With that in mind, my goal was to create a product that would provide an effective workout at home. Unknowingly, my friend was my first target customer. Once I had a reasonable sketch, I made my first prototype with plastic straws, toothpicks, and paper clips to test out the simple physics. Then, I built a full scale plastic prototype. It took me some time to order a production prototype because I was constantly making measurement adjustments. I’m a bit of a perfectionist sometimes.

Tell us about your team.

During the process of developing my startup, I learned not to rush into decisions. I don’t have a full team yet, but I do have friends with skills and connections like my corporate lawyer, web site programmer, investment banking buddy and a colleague of mine with connections to QVC and sporting good chains.

How have you been working with the Dingman Center?

The Dingman Center has been an amazing resource for me. I get to meet and connect with fun business-minded colleagues that give me advice and feedback. Dingman Center Angels Review Days, workshops, and everything Dingman offers gives me different perspectives on what I knew and what I need to do. It always feels good when I say Gym Supreme is a member of the Dingman Center EnTERPreneur Academy at the Smith School.

How are you using the $1,000 grant from the Dingman Center?

The grant was an amazing cushion that opened up cap space for legal fees associated with the utility patent, trademark and the purchase of social media advertising. Although the grant will be split across several expenses, I know it would not have been possible to get all the legal work finished this summer without the grant.

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting a business?

For me it has been a mixture of funding and tedious patent work. The lack of funding prevented me from rushing into decisions because when you have plans that cost more money than you have, there is usually a wait period between milestones. The wait allowed me to analyze needs and create a hierarchy of tasks.

What goals have you set for the upcoming year?

One of my patents arrived on my birthday–that was a nice gift. The main goals remaining for 2013 are the Pitch Dingman Competition and a Kickstarter pre-order. The Kickstarter campaign is time dependent on the number of potential consumers I attract using various social media campaigns. When I feel there is enough interest from a significant number of followers that will likely purchase the MegaBar, I will launch the pre-order. With good revenue from that, Gym Supreme will become eligible and will apply for Cupid’s Cup in 2014, beginning the search for capital.

Have you had to change your business model since you started?

Oh yes. Initially, I was focused on a model that cuts out the middleman in order to maximize profit from sales and avoid margin reductions from wholesale. I soon learned that avoiding the big retail orders might not be effective because I would give up visibility on very popular retail platforms and have to rely solely on my own marketing to make sales. This would result in an increase in consumer acquisition costs and a decrease profit. That strategy is possible, but requires too much capital infused into marketing. The model is evolving to include a platform that will provide recurring revenue if properly executed.

How do you stay motivated to work on your business when success doesn’t come as quickly as you hoped?

I believe there is a reward associated with the risk I am taking and the reward is success. When I imagine the success of Gym Supreme I stay focused, get excited, and keep going because I am determined to reach that goal. If I give up before anything significant happens, I have defeated myself.

GDP_9540 (1)Obidi Orakwusi is the Founder of Gym Supreme and a member of the Dingman Center’s EnTERPreneur Academy. Stay connected with Gym Supreme on Facebook and Youtube or visit www.gymsupreme.com.

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Worth Reading 7/26/13

This week at the Dingman Center, board member and successful entrepreneur Andrea Keating was in the office mentoring students with business ideas. We also released a must-read post by Elana Fine, managing director, about the importance of being a global entrepreneur. Now, let’s end our week with what’s worth reading.

Entrepreneur Matt Garrison and his startup Energy.me are contracted to make $180 million in revenue over the next 18 months by buying and selling wholesale electricity. Find out the secret to the company’s technology in Lightning In A Bottle: Starting Up In A $190 Billion Market.

Investors in other cities may have more money to spend, but they don’t have the experience you’ll get from a DC investor. Tech Cocktail shows us why Angel Funding Opportunities Are Soaring in Washington, DC.

VCs don’t want to hear entrepreneurs pitch ten different ideas hoping one will sound good enough to invest in. Instead, they look for entrepreneurs that are passionate and convicted. Here’s why Successful Entrepreneurship Is Not About Winning A Popularity Contest With Venture Capitalists.

Is your startup having trouble pushing people to your website? Take a look at How PolicyMic, A Startup With A Handful Of Employees, Gets 6 Million People To Read It Every Month.

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Fine Observations: All Entrepreneurship is Global Entrepreneurship

Over the past few weeks the Smith School of Business and Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship have welcomed MBA students from Peking University, our partner school in China. Their enthusiasm for everything American – our universities, our financial markets, our TV shows, our music (apparently John Denver in particular) and especially our MALLS – further highlighted the disproportionate interest foreign individuals and firms have in the U.S. compared to our interest in them. This fervor is not unique to Chinese visitors as we host delegations from around the world that are anxious to learn anything they can about how we teach entrepreneurship and incubate startups. Yes, it is flattering that other countries want to learn from us– but are we doing enough of the same? Beyond outsourcing developers and finding low cost manufacturing, are our entrepreneurs doing enough to become global entrepreneurs?

I’m going to venture an educated guess and say “no, not really”. After speaking with hundreds of entrepreneurs in the past few years, there are only a handful that are tackling a problem also experienced in Brazil, leveraging technology developed in Israel or are targeting customers in China. One of those handful, Dingman portfolio company CirrusWorks, immediately peaked the interest of our investors by first targeting Asian markets. Although their unconventional approach to testing their product in a foreign market appeared naive to some, other investors welcomed the contrarian strategy since most startups begin locally and then diversify abroad as they grow. Since the U.S.’s growth rate ranks #127th , I’d argue that more startups need to take a “World is Flat” approach to launching their businesses. Given such feeble rates, startups may never experience the double-digit domestic growth rates that are typically viewed as milestones and therefore may never explore the global appeal of their product.

While exploring this issue with distinguished startup professors at the Smith School, I learned there are some exceptions. They pointed out that recent research has shown an uptick in transnational entrepreneurs, immigrants to the U.S. who leverage knowledge of the U.S. and their home country to start global, high tech startups. It makes sense that those knowledgeable and comfortable with multiple markets would be more likely to embark on a global venture. However, as a whole, U.S. entrepreneurs need to change their mindset to take advantage of international trends and opportunities:

Think global, start local. Startups need to understand and solve global problems. Uber launched in Paris in 2011, before many major U.S. cities, demonstrating the global pain point of inefficient taxi service.

Find comfort in what is uncomfortable. Talk and learn from people from different cultures. Travel to places with language barriers. Get lost on subways and experiment with food. The ability to partner with international companies and comfort travelling to meet a potential customer will give you a competitive advantage.

Understand Every Business is a Global Business. I repeat. Understand every business is global business and every entrepreneur is a global entrepreneur. For those of you who use the business model canvas as a planning tool – think of your canvas and look at which box represents a global opportunity. Is it a customer segment, a manufacturing partner or a distribution channel?

As entrepreneurs, advisors and investors, let’s learn from our zealous global peers. They are certainly learning from us.

Be fearless.

-Elana

ElanaFineElana Fine (@elanafine) was appointed Managing Director of the Dingman Center in July 2012, after joining the team in 2010 as Director of Venture Investments. As Managing Director, Elana’s primary focus is leading the Dingman Center in support of its mission and strategic plan. Key responsibilities include oversight of our student venture incubator, Dingman Center Angels investor network, business competitions, and technology commercialization efforts. Elana also develops and maintains relationships with donors, board members, EIRs, the Smith School community and other campus and regional partners. She is also serving as co-chair of the Dean’s Task Force on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and will be working with our Academic Director to expand the Dingman Center’s research activities and curriculum development.

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