Tag Archives: elana fine

Get to Know the Dingman Center: Elana Fine

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

Elana cropped

Elana Fine, Executive Director

Elana Fine is the fearless leader of the Dingman Center, a position that demands she wear many different hats: professor, podcast co-host, traveling panelist, thought leader, three-time “Tech Titan” and last but certainly not least, the manager of our team. Even during the Center’s busiest, most stressful times, Elana’s unwavering energy and tenacity serve as a beacon for her team to follow. Her “Monday morning meetings” are a weekly fixture that even those who would never call themselves “morning people” have come to look forward to. In these meetings, and on a daily basis, every member of the team is encouraged to contribute their thoughts on how we can best express the Dingman Center’s appeal and execute on its mission. In the face of adversity, we can press forward with confidence knowing Elana will fight for her team like a tiger protecting her cubs. Maybe that sort of maternal fierceness comes easily to her, as in addition to being a full-time executive director, she’s a full-time mom to twin 10-year olds. It’s unclear where she finds the time or energy for all of this, but some mysteries are better left unsolved. Not all heroes wear capes, after all.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Powering Women Entrepreneurs

By Elana Fine

Last Saturday I moderated a “Powering Women Entrepreneurs” panel at Forte Foundation’s annual MBA Women’s Leadership Conference. Over 450 current women MBA students from top business schools filled the conference hall wearing “Let’s Power Up” t-shirts while taking selfies with cutouts of powerful women leaders such as Smith School alumna Carly Fiorina, Oprah Winfrey, and Sheryl Sandberg.

The panel included three successful women entrepreneurs:

Tiffany Norwood, Serial Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur in Residence, Georgetown University

Arum Kang, Co-Founder and CEO Coffee Meets Bagel

Hillary Lewis, Founder and President, Lumi Organics


L-R: Elana Fine, Tiffany Norwood, Arum Kang, Hillary Lewis

I quickly realized what an opportunity our panel had to inspire such a large crowd of impressive women at such an important inflection point in their careers.  As I told the crowd, my goal was for each of them to consider one entrepreneurial experience during their two years as MBA students. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

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:

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

What’s Up at the Dingman Center?

Every two weeks, the Dingman Center distributes The Pitch, which highlights important happenings in our community. In case you missed it, here’s a look at what’s up in entrepreneurship:

Dean Triantis Named One of InTheCapital’s “50 on Fire” for Education


Congrats to Dean Alex Triantis, who has been named one of InTheCapital’s “50 on Fire“; a list of the year’s disruptive innovators covering nine industries. Since his appointment, the school has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the Center for International Business Education and Research. Dingman Center Angels portfolio company, Homesnap also made the list. Check out the full list here!

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , ,

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.


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.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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.


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.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Worth Reading 7/19/13

This week, the Dingman Center hosted a group of Chinese MBA students from Peking University and exposed them to innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland and throughout the region. Make sure you like the Dingman Center Facebook page so you can see photos from their visit when they are posted next week. Also this week, Elana Fine participated in another Live Chat with the Washington Post and we posted an interview with student entrepreneur, Ayana Cotton, discussing her startup Evlove. Now, here’s what’s worth reading this week.

At the Dingman Center, we believe that entrepreneurship can be taught. This is proven by the number of student entrepreneurs that come through our office every day. The average undergraduate entrepreneurship course doesn’t offer the kind of experiential learning opportunities that students get through programs offered by the Dingman Center, and Forbes agrees. Explore this controversial topic with 5 Reasons Why Undergrad Entrepreneurship Courses Aren’t Producing Entrepreneurs.

If you’re starting a company, where should you live? Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston are the top cities on the east coast. Here is an infographic of The 7 Hottest Startup Scenes in the U.S, with Austin, TX taking the #1 spot.

One of the hardest things about starting a new company is finding the perfect name. It should memorable, easy to say and hopefully not already taken. Check out these tips for naming your startup from The Wall Street Journal.

There are more resources for starting a business than ever before. From online resources to countless networks of entrepreneurial thinkers, the current generation of young-adults  are better equipped than the successful business leaders of our past. Here are 5 Reasons Why Millennials Are Born Entrepreneurs.

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

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Worth Reading 7/12/13

This week at the Dingman Center we got some great news about one of our portfolio companies, CirrusWorks, who recently received funding from CIT GAP Funds. We’re also excited to host a group of Chinese MBAs from Peking University next week! We will be introducing them to entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland and in the Washington D.C. region. Now, let’s end the week with some news worth reading.

Our first topic has been buzzing all over the news headlines this week. As part of the JOBS Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released the ban that prevented hedge funds and private firms from advertising investment opportunities; originally established to protect small investors. Now, firms can advertise publicly via email, billboards or even Facebook, making it easier for startups to raise capital. Check out coverage of this popular topic from The Washington Post and Forbes.

Typically, people only think of their accountants during tax season, but if given the right amount of financial data, accountants can be extremely valuable to a startup. Forbes tells us How Entrepreneurs Should Use Their Accountants.

Startups sometimes overcompensate when pitching to investors. According to a nationwide survey of investors representing all sectors, the worst thing you can do is be a liar, a rambler, or a drama queen. The Huffington Post tell us the Top 8 Things That Make Investors Cringe.

The Seattle Times is addressing the question; can a multi-billion dollar company with 98,000 employees act like a startup? See how Startup culture is stirring at Microsoft.

Some people say the most successful entrepreneurs are brown-nosing over achievers. Others say they lack self-control and make impulsive risky decisions. No matter what your involvement is in the startup world, it’s easy to fall for some of these stereotypes. Here are Six Whopping Lies Told About Entrepreneurs … Sometimes By Entrepreneurs Themselves.

The Washington Post released its annual list of summer reading recommendations from experts at the Smith School of Business. Check out what Elana Fine, Ken White, Brent Goldfarb and more in Summer reads for business leaders.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,