Tag Archives: EIR

Dingman EIR Disrupts the Real Estate Industry with Latest Venture, iUnit


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UPDATE – Recently, we caught up with Brice to get a few updates on iUnit. Within the next few weeks, iUnit will deliver to tenants the first project and MVP. This video gives the viewer a glimpse into the construction process and community amenities. In additional news, iUnit is expanding its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the world’s largest research centers focused on energy efficiency. The iUnit prototype will be housed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility where it will be used in testing everything from materials used to build the iUnit to energy efficient mechanical systems like iUnits battery and software systems.

It’s an exciting time for Brice and his team. To put a finer point on the company’s progress, Brice commented “iUnit is essentially the electric car of housing.”

February 4, 2015 – Envision the Prius of apartment buildings: wired with the latest “smart” technology, environmentally friendly, affordable, cool. That’s exactly what lifelong entrepreneur Brice Leconte delivers in his latest venture, iUnit.

Brice is one of the Dingman Center’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs-In-Residence), who help UMD students realize their entrepreneurial ideas during the Dingman Center’s weekly Dingman Fridays sessions. A long-time entrepreneur, Brice has a passion for disrupting industries and building socially active companies. He has started and invested in a wide range of businesses, from real estate development, to bricks and mortar, to e-commerce and tech startups. Today, he is focused on disrupting the real estate industry with his latest brand, iUnit.

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Featured EIR: Bob London

By Justin Taubman, MBA’16

This week I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview Bob London as part of a blog series on the Dingman Center’s newest Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) and their various entrepreneurial backgrounds. Bob is one of the Dingman Center’s new EIRs making himself available to students on Dingman Fridays this year. Bob has a very interesting career and hopefully others will find it inspiring. Bob London

Years ago, the term “self employed” was regarded by many as another way of saying unemployed. At least that is what Bob London remembers from when he left his job with a global telecom company to create his own consulting shop in the late 1990’s. He really just wanted to be his own boss and have more flexibility, something that his friends were particularly jealous of when he would tell them that he was going for a bike ride in the middle of the day.

When I asked Bob what he feared most about going out on his own, he surprisingly told me that he didn’t have enough fear. The fear of losing stability and a regular paycheck is something that I believe entrepreneurs either innately lack or they gradually overcome. Bob explained to me that the social acceptance of leaving the comfortable and stable corporate world has come around a lot since the 90’s. Although we laughed about how most people today think about entrepreneurship, they immediately look at their phone and Facebook or Pinterest icons float through their head. In fact, entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes like Russell Garing’s bitters company or Bob’s consulting venture.

Bob’s expertise is in B2B marketing strategy and planning and his primary goal as an EIR is to ensure that anyone who seeks his advice will walk away understanding the importance of seeing the world from the customer’s perspective–via customer discovery and other methods. Bob explained, “you need to always be curious about the customer’s perspective and balance the passion for your idea with what your customers want.” I could not agree more. It may seem simple, but it’s incredible how many products have skipped that critical element of the design phase…remember the Segway? Yeah, neither do I!

Remember to pitch your business ideas by Bob London and the rest of the EIRs at Dingman Fridays from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. We’re here every Friday! #TGIDF

More on Bob London

Bob London, President of London, Ink LLC, serves as an Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for B2B technology and professional services firms. His clients typically have a significant market opportunity or challenge and need an injection of senior marketing expertise and leadership–but aren’t ready for the cost and commitment of a full-time marketing executive. Clients work with London, Ink to assess their market opportunity, better understand their customers’ needs, determine strategic options and develop a practical go-to-market plan to improve revenue, market awareness, customer acquisition and retention. London, Ink also prioritizes and executes key B2B marketing initiatives–from online marketing to web design/development to social media to public relations–that generate the highest return on investment.

Bob is a 20+ year marketing veteran who has achieved rapid results with marketing budgets ranging from the $200 million network television launch of MCI Friends & Family to London, Ink’s frugal $1,000 annual budget (really!). He also served as VP of Marketing for Digex, Incorporated, a national Web hosting and management firm that grew 100% annually during his tenure and went through not one but two IPOs, as well as director of product marketing for Verisign, the leading web identity and security firm.

Bob serves on the board of The Marketing Alliance, the leading education and networking group for B2B technology marketing executives in the DC area. Bob is a marketing advisor for Bisnow’s Gen Z program for budding high school entrepreneurs and also serves on the board of advisors of National Capital Companies, a mid-market investment bank headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Bob graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a BS in Marketing. He resides in Potomac, MD with his wife and two teenage sons.

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Finalists Announced for Spring Pitch Dingman Competition: RSVP Today

CaptureOn March 4th, five Terp start-ups will compete for $3,500 in funding at the semi-annual Pitch Dingman Competition, which will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall. The finalists will each have 6 minutes to pitch their business before the UMD community.

An all-star panel of judges will select the most promising companies to walk away with the cash prizes.  The audience will also have the chance to text-to-vote for their favorite company and award them the $500 Audience Choice Award. Make sure you register to attend and bring a friend to cast your votes at the competition!

Meet the finalists:

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Welcome back, Terps!

We hope everyone had a happy holiday season and is refreshed for a productive spring semester at Van Munching Hall.

The Dingman Center is hosting many exciting entrepreneurship events and programs this spring. Here are a few you don’t want to miss!

The 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup

cupidscupAn impressive 197 applications were submitted from 93 universities around the globe for the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup competition, chaired by Under Armour CEO and Terp alumnus, Kevin Plank.

The applications — which hailed from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Greece, Nigeria, and beyond — are now undergoing the initial review process. Judges will select 12 applicants to advance to the semifinals on March 12. Watch out for that announcement in mid-February. And, be sure to save the date for the showcase and final competition on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

For more information please visit the Cupid’s Cup website.

The Pitch Dingman Competition


For all those student entrepreneurs out there, are you ready to take your startup to the next level? Consider applying for the spring Pitch Dingman Competition to be held March 4, 2015, from 6-7:30pm at in Tyser Auditorium in Van Munching Hall. Five finalists will pitch to a panel of all-star judges including regional entrepreneurs and members of the Smith School community, as they compete for $3,500 in start-up funding.

The application deadline is Monday, February 16 at 10 a.m. Click here for more information and eligibility requirements.

Pitch Dingman Sessions are Back!


Beginning Friday, Jan. 30, Pitch Dingman sessions will continue every Friday for the remainder of the semester. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to attend a walk-in sessions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to get feedback on their business ideas. In addition to insights from experienced entrepreneurs, participants will leave Pitch Dingman with actionable next steps. Students interested in competing in the March 4 Pitch Dingman Competition must attend at least one walk-in session.

Questions? Email pitchdingman@rhsmith.umd.edu or visit the website.


To hear about additional events, programs and news, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn and continue reading this blog.


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Terp Entrepreneur Launches Locks of Curls

Fredrica Antwi, Founder, Locks of Curls

Fredrica Antwi, Founder, Locks of Curls

Fredrica Antwi, a senior studying Accounting and Finance at the University of Maryland, was tired of spending a ton of money purchasing hair products to tame her naturally curly hair. After countless trips to the beauty supply store left her broke and unhappy, she decided to do something about it.

“I would spend so much money purchasing products but at the end of the day, they would end up in a cabinet somewhere unfinished,” said Fredrica.

So, she came up with Locks of Curls, an exciting way for people with naturally curly hair to experiment with products without a huge commitment or breaking the bank.

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Do you have what it takes? Top 10 Reasons to Apply to Cupid’s Cup 

Kevin Plank’96, founder and CEO of Under Armour, is looking for the world’s most passionate student entrepreneurs for the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup. If you are a student entrepreneur with a game-changing business idea, here are 10 reasons you should apply today.

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Beyond the Classroom: Dingman EIRs, Staff and Faculty in the News

Those who spend a lot of time in Van Munching Hall know that the Dingman Center is an excellent resource for student entrepreneurs at the University of Maryland.

But, Dingman’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence), staff and faculty are not only dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation on campus — many of them are also entrepreneurs themselves or thought leaders in the field.

Here’s a look at what our talented faculty and staff have been up to off-campus: Continue reading

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Worth Reading 2/28/14

Can our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence have the same effect on professional football players that they have on student entrepreneurs? We’ll find out this Sunday when EIRs Harry Geller and John LaPides participate in a four-day entrepreneurship conference for current and former National Football League players.


Participants will include: NFL cornerback Phillip Buchanon who is creating a board game to teach money management and other life skills to kids;  Arizona Cardinals long snapper Mike Leach who is developing a product to help parents toilet train their toddlers; and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress who has introduced a line of colorful, luxury socks. Read this Baltimore Sun article for more details.

Now, here is what’s Worth Reading this week.

Stay connected with the Dingman Center FB-f-Logo__blue_1024 twitter-bird-white-on-blue

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Dispatches from Inside the Classroom: Day 2

Best Marketing’s Liz Sara, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, started off last night’s “Business to Business Marketing,” course with a how-to on developing a company’s value proposition. Two guest speakers from local tech companies Mindseye and PublicRelay, who both previously pitched the Dingman Center Angels investor network, provided case studies on how THEY crafted the value statements for their companies. Following are Sara’s key takeaways from the case studies:

  • Maintaining a pulse on the marketplace and changing market conditions are key to having a value proposition that resonates.
  • Competitor reactions, new trends, economic changes – all play a role in what matters to the business buyer.

Are you interested in strengthening your value proposition and differentiating your company from the rest? Sara recommends reading Business Market Management, by Anderson and Narus and Differentiate or Die, by Jack Trout.

Tonight’s class will cover identifying target business markets and monitoring the competition featuring case studies from guest speakers Nikhil Palekar, CEO, nVeloped and Logan Soya, CEO, Aquicore. Check out the first post in this series and stay tuned for our next dispatch.

Sara-05Aug13-97Liz Sara has 20 years of experience in the local high tech community as an entrepreneur, business leader, angel investor and philanthropist. In 2001, she founded Best Marketing, LLC to provide early stage software companies with strategic marketing, PR and business development services. Her company offers clients all the benefits of a full-scale, seasoned marketing department on a ‘virtual’ basis — eliminating overhead and headcount associated with full-time staff. Previously, she played a principal role as co-founder of SpaceWorks, an eCommerce software company, where she facilitated its startup and growth to nearly $25 million in revenue; at America Online, where she designed the PR program and investor road show for the IPO; at United Press International, where she facilitated a turn-around strategy; and for LEXIS/NEXIS, where she was instrumental in the creation and successful launch of a new division. Ms. Sara holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. She is a member of the Business & Professional Women’s Committee of the Corcoran; the Women’s Committee of National Museum of Women In the Arts; and the Board of the Capital City Ball. In addition, Ms. Sara is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

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Center Stage with Harry Geller ’81, Entrepreneur-in-Residence

If you’ve ever been to a Pitch Dingman informal session, it’s likely you’ve met Entrepreneur-in-Residence Harry Geller. Harry generously volunteers his time every Friday to meet with students, providing advice and valuable feedback on starting a new business. He also helps prepare students for Pitch Dingman competitions, coaches students participating in the China Business Plan Competition, and mentors Cupid’s Cup finalists. Keep reading for Center Stage with Harry Geller.

How did you get involved with the Dingman Center?

About 8 years ago I worked with the Smith School of Business mentoring MBA students and at the time I was still quite busy with my various business interests. In early 2009, I sold my interest in a large restaurant group and approached [former managing director] Asher Epstein with the idea that I had more time and wanted to spend it helping aspiring entrepreneurs.

What do you look for in a good pitch?

An idea that is easily understandable within the first 15 seconds. The simpler the better.

How did you start your first business?

How most people do – after years working in a specific industry, in my case the logistics field, I became frustrated with the corporate world. I figured I could do it better than the company I was working for.

What has been your greatest entrepreneurial challenge?

My first startup experienced hyper growth. Being 20-something and virtually overnight managing hundreds of people and tens of millions of dollars in sales was quite a challenge.

What made you want to work for yourself?

My dad was an entrepreneur and I spent a lot of my early years around the various businesses he had in Washington, DC, so I had a good basis for entrepreneurship.

What makes a Cupid’s Cup winner different from companies that compete, but don’t win?

Showing passion for the idea, having a proven track record for execution, and being well prepared for the presentation.

What advice can you give to students entering a Pitch Dingman competition?

Use the resources at the Dingman Center to practice your pitch and develop your business idea. Have all your bases covered regarding what the idea is, what problem you’re solving, what market you’re serving, and what your competition is. Make sure the numbers add up, and refer to question 2, keep it simple so the judges understand right away what you are pitching.

Why do you spend so much time with the Dingman Center?

I’m blessed that I have the time, and I enjoy hearing business ideas and helping and learning from the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Harry Geller

Harry Geller is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and a member of the Dingman Center Board of Advisors. He is also on the University of Maryland, President’s Advisory Board and has been an active mentor of entrepreneurial students at the Smith School. Harry founded SoDel Concepts, a successful restaurant development company focusing on upscale, relaxed resort dining that has opened and operated five fine and casual dining seafood restaurants. Previously, Harry owned and managed seven multi-million dollar businesses, mostly in the logistics and distribution fields. He is the former CEO of the America’s of Deutsche Post, the world’s largest logistics company that now operates under the DHL/Global Mail name. Four of his companies have been named to the INC. 500 list of fastest growing companies, the most recent one in 2009. Geller is married to a successful entrepreneur Nicole, and they have two children, residing in McLean, Virginia.

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