Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Keeping Up With Terp Startup Accelerator 2022!

This week marks one month into the Dingman Center’s 2022 Terp Startup Accelerator program…and it could not be going better!

So far our cohort has had a blast hearing from guest speakers, participating in workshops and roundtable discussions, and even taking field trips to the Johns Hopkins University Fast Forward U program and Towson University’s accelerator at Startups!

Our cohort has also been participating in fun innovation challenges throughout the summer like paper airplane building competitions and playing the card game “A Balancing Act”, created by cohort members and co-founders of Sparza, Ryan Myer ’22, and Kyle Sznoluch.

“TSA has been an amazing experience! The entire community has been extremely supportive and nurturing in helping us with our ventures. The cohort has been really great as well, and it has been extremely educational and beneficial to learn from fellow members. The structured environment and advising have helped us move forward and think about aspects of our venture we hadn’t thought about before. We have immensely expanded our network and have made connections not only at UMCP but also at JHU, Towson, alumni and practicing professionals,” said Ina Kovacheva, founder of Arch Dash

The program, held in the new Idea Factory’s Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Loft on campus, has given these student entrepreneurs the opportunity to advance their own ventures full-time while spontaneously collaborating with one another. Working in this type of environment is relatively new for many students, but participants like Emily Garcia, founder of Em G Art Design Studio, have grown to appreciate the benefits.

“I’ve worked in art studios which are similar in a way. The similarities come from the fact that the space gathers like-minded people. People who are working in a space that inspires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. One’s environment can influence their work and mindset. It also creates a sense of community,” said Garcia.

Of the 11 ventures accepted into TSA, each is unique–and not only in its products and services. While some students have fully developed ventures that already generate revenue, others simply have an idea and the passion to make it happen. No matter the stage of the startup, each company is given up to $5,000 in financial support and full physical support from members of the Dingman Team, Holly DeArmond, Tsega Belachew, Lottie Byram, and Alex Onufrak.

“The access to mentors, professionals, and their networks has been really helpful. Even more than the specific workshops, simply the ability to connect with and tap into mentor networks has been a huge value add,” said Josh Doying founder of Bedtime Sports.

Despite some ventures being more advanced in their process than others, by the end of the program, all companies will meet critical outcomes such as making data-driven decisions using metrics that matter, finding product/market fit, and acquiring initial customers.

Even though the 2022 program is nearly halfway complete, students are still working hard and are excited to take the next steps in furthering their venture.

“I am very much looking forward to starting a pilot program with the University and learning more about how they can benefit from our technology! A bit nervous about demo day and really dreading the thought of TSA coming to an end,” said Kovacheva.

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Feature Friday! Stockadoo

Stockadoo is a platform that allows fans to trade shares of creators’ channels, which reduces creators’ reliance on ads and sponsors—while giving fans an opportunity to make money.
Justin Fenn ’22

DC: What’s your name, major, and graduation year?
Fenn: Justin Fenn, Computer Science Spring 2022.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Fenn: I participated in and won the Hult Prize 2019 at UMD and was fortunate enough to be able to compete with my team in Boston at the regional finals. Also, I attend Dingman Fridays regularly for guidance on a range of questions. Additionally Stockadoo was worked on in New Venture Practicum, one of the Dingman Center’s signature courses.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Fenn: Stockadoo is a platform that allows fans to invest in their favorite creators by trading shares of creators’ channels, monetizing the creator in the process. Our goal is to reduce the reliance on the advertisement economy by allowing fans to support creators directly while also benefitting through trading on the Stockadoo exchange.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Fenn: It may sound silly, but Star Trek is a big influence on my startup and most startup ideas I’ve had. Specifically, the hopeful attitude that Star Trek takes on how the future could be and that we will find solutions to our human vices, such as greed. In the future given by Star Trek, money does not exist, freeing up most anyone to pursue the goals they’d like to in their life. I hope that even if it’s extremely minor, Stockadoo can make a step towards a future like that.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last five months?
Fenn: Since January, we went from an idea to a brand, website, prototype and spread the idea to many people through surveys and word of mouth. We have signed up multiple creators who are willing to beta test the app when it launches.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
Fenn: We are finishing the beta version of the app and will be launching this summer. We are excited to get feedback from users and creators alike and hope we can provide a valuable product to both.

DC: As the founder of Stockadoo, how do you define success?
Fenn: I define success as the continual process of refining an idea to provide the most valuable solution while maintaining the integrity of the core goal of a business. In the case of Stockadoo, the app may change drastically, but the core goal of reducing the reliance of digital content on advertisements remains the same.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Fenn: The most important piece of advice I could give is simply to lean toward making any decision instead of making the best decision. Most startup decisions are situations where you can analyze the multiple options for an eternity and still not have enough information to make the best decision. If you make decisions sooner, you save a lot of time and make incremental progress to a larger goal.

To learn more about Stockadoo, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Chat Health

Aishwarya Tare ’22 (second from the left) winning second place at the 2022 Pitch Dingman Competition Finals.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Tare: Hi, I’m Aishwarya Tare. And in a week, I’ll officially have my degree in Human-Computer Interaction with a minor in art history!

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Tare: For programs, I’ve only done Pitch Dingman, but I’ve been involved through Ladies First, Dingman Fridays, Startup Shell, and interning at StartupUMD all since my freshman year. We also just won second place at the PDC.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Tare: Chat Health is an AI data analytics platform that equips university health centers with information to make more efficient decisions on where to allocate their time and resources on campus. Our app, including our NLP chatbot, allows students to view and leverage all of the health resources, services, and events available to them on campus. Our predictive analysis dashboard for universities allows them to see in real-time, how students are utilizing the health ecosystem and how well their services are faring.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Tare: Potentially corny, but my personal inspiration will always be my parents, who I think perfectly balance the importance of family and close relationships with the drive and ambition you need to be successful working at a startup. They never shied away from working overtime, but are also some of the coolest adults I know. 

Also, growing up in Silicon Valley, I was surrounded by all these companies that used data to change the world including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Palantir, etc. They are such inspirations because we would like to disrupt healthcare in the same way, and really change the way that people view their health for generations.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Tare: We’ve made some pretty big pivots in the last six months, definitely feeling the growing pains of achieving product-market fit. We completed our MVP and launched a beta test with UMD students, went through the i-Corps program, and participated in the Values and Ventures finals and PDC finals. We also began focusing on building long-term tools for university health centers over solving just the problem on the student side because focusing more on our student app felt something like putting a band-aid on a gash. For this summer, we’re focused on applying to some SBIR grants, iterating on the university-facing dashboard, and securing a couple of pilots with schools for the Fall 2022 semester.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Tare: The biggest thing we are working on right now is security partnerships with universities. By co-developing Chat Health with them, we can make sure we are meeting their needs while also making it a really easy sell when we have validated how the product fits into each university’s health ecosystem. To do this, we are illustrating where student needs on campus aren’t being met, and how we have closed some of these gaps through students using our app at UMD. By the way, if you’re a student interested in joining our ongoing UMD pilot, you can sign up here!

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Tare: The adrenaline of making progress. It is such an addicting feeling to glean a new insight that challenges your perspective, find a new use case, validate an assumption, make a pivot, or get funding from others who believe in what you’re building.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Tare: You don’t have to be the foremost expert in the field of the problem you’re trying to solve, you just have to be willing and motivated to become more knowledgeable about it than anyone else. Talk to as many people experiencing the problem as possible, seek learning material, surround yourself with people who are experts and lean on them, and be willing to constantly change and iterate your understanding of it because your startup will become so much bigger than yourself.

To learn more about Chat Health, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Fusion100

Founder of Fusion100, Ilan Orgel ’22, sporting his merchandise.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Orgel: Ilan Orgel, Finance, graduating in May of 2022.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Orgel: Pitch Dingman Competition 2022.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Orgel: Fusion100 is a global lifestyle clothing brand whose mission is to inspire people to become the best version of themselves.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Orgel: Marketing through professional athletes in the NBA and NFL.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Orgel: We were featured on the biggest sports media outlets in the world Sportscenter, Bleacherreport, and NBA on ESPN. We have shipped our products to countries outside of the United States.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Orgel: Currently working on an entire summer collection that is going to launch at the end of April. It will include shirts, shorts, and more.

DC: As the founder of Fusion100, how do you define success?
Orgel: Building a community around the world and have people feel a certain way when they are wearing Fusion100. Continuing to work with big names and expand the brand.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Orgel: Believe in yourself and have a vision.

To learn more about Fusion100 please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Quandry

Quandry is a digital platform that provides retail traders tools for researching, developing, and deploying automated trading strategies.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
Houlton: Bryan Houlton, Computer Science and Robotics, Winter 2023. Ryan Downing, Finance and Computer Science, Spring 2022.

Co-founder Bryan Houlton ’23

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Houlton: I’m involved in a lot of startup stuff at UMD. For Dingman, my company is participating in the Pitch Dingman Competition for 2023. We’re in the Quattrone track and competing for $30,000, but I’m also involved in the Hatchery and Startup Shell.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Houlton: We make tools for algorithmic trading, a field where people make use of complex formulas and mathematical model to make decisions to buy or sell stock. Our product basically boils down to a web platform where you can log on, build an algorithmic investing strategy, test it over years of market data to see how it would have performed, and if you like the results, start trading with real or fake money. Then, you can list your strategy on the marketplace for others to invest in, and you’ll make a commission on their profits: essentially making everyone their own hedge fund.

Co-founder Ryan Downing ’22

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Houlton: We’ve had a lot of support from the UMD entrepreneurship community. We were accepted into the Hatchery, a new UMD incubator, and are being mentored by some amazing people there. We also have great connections through Dingman, Startup Shell, etc. To shoutout a few, I’d say Haroon, Idris, and Zeki Mokhtarzada, Juliana Neelbauer, the Startup Shell admin team, and our main Dingman contacts, Lottie Byram and Alex Onufrak.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Houlton: Well, we’ve only been around for ~5mo and are launching our product in May. So, our big updates are that we were accepted into the Hatchery and are close to finishing our initial product. We’ve also managed to onboard two awesome people to work with, one of which is another UMD student helping with some software engineering, and another is a UI/UX designer based out of California. I would consider getting them onboard to be a significant accomplishment purely because of how much they have contributed to the company and how important they have been to our success so far.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
Houlton: Right now, our most important thing is making sure that the product is ready for launch by the end of May. We’re working hard on building out the last couple features that we need, fixing bugs, iterating on our user experience, and marketing. Both Ryan (my cofounder and CTO) and I are working probably 50+ hours a week to really push this through, so organizational processes like sprints have been a must for consistent execution. We’re also looking to raise some money in alignment with the product launch, so opportunities like Pitch Dingman, Y Combinator, Contrary, and other VC firms that we have connections to are a hot topic for us right now.

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Houlton: There are two answers to this: the internal and the external. Internally, it’s the cliché “I’ve always liked to build things”. It’s what everyone says, but for most people that are into this kind of stuff, it’s true. Getting to build a product that you’re excited about and see other people also get excited about is a truly unique experience. The external motivation is the people I get to interact with by being a part of UMD entrepreneurship. This ranges from my fellow students in Startup Shell to the Mokhtarzada brothers running the Hatchery, as they all come together to drive UMD in the entrepreneurship space. Watching every one of them be passionate about UMD’s startup community makes me want to participate in the great opportunities popping up all over the university.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Houlton: I’m assuming anyone reading this is going to be from UMD, so my advice we be to get involved in the UMD startup communities. My background is in tech and a solid portion of what I do at Quandry is coding, but I find that more and more of running a startup is about people. Who are your mentors, who are you learning from, how well do you get along with your cofounders and core team, who are you hiring, etc. We’re not at this point yet but what I’ve heard is that, especially as your company grows, you’ll be spending less and less time on the base level work (coding, cold calls, so forth). It’s important to have a team that you can trust and rely on to be able to delegate to and propel the company forward. To find people, some great communities to get involved in are Startup Shell (would HIGHLY recommend for any students), Dingman Center (great events like Pitch Dingman and the Summer Accelerator), and the Hatchery (applications are every September). At these places you can find some amazing people to learn from, but also, working for a startup is a good way to see if you want to make your own. You’ll get a good idea of what the job looks like for founders, as well as learn a lot about tech, marketing, or whatever you’re working in to help when you start your own company. To summarize, focus a lot of your time on finding great people that have skills that compliment your own, and learn as much as you can about startups through work experience or campus communities. There will probably never be a better time in your life to take a risk on a startup, so if you’re thinking about it, just go for it.

To learn more about Quandry, please visit the website here.

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ANNOUNCING THE LADIES FIRST FOUNDERS SPRING 2022 COHORT

Ladies First Founders is the Dingman Center’s one-credit spring semester course for female and non-binary students interested in entrepreneurship. Taught by Sara Herald, champion of our Ladies First Initiative, the course helps students build soft skills for overcoming gender biases in entrepreneurship. Students do not need to have launched a venture, as the focus of the course is on demystifying entrepreneurship. The syllabus includes a blend of skill-building workshops and networking events. Topics include the how to’s of networking and mentorship, finding balance as a founder/student/human, overcoming imposter syndrome, startup pitching and body language, funding and how to get it, and more.

Read on to learn more about this cohort’s exciting student founders and some of their businesses!

Yemi Ikotun ’23 (Business Management)
“I signed up for the Ladies First Founders class because I’m surrounded by female entrepreneurs in my life and I wanted to learn more about what inspired them!” -Ikotun

Terriana Jones ’25 (Architecture)
“I hope to gain knowledge about the entrepreneur world from the perspective of woman. I would also like to build my entrepreneurial mindset!” -Jones

Luo Nanxin ’24 (Finance and Information Systems) EFuxion Studio
We are a company that focuses on the development of voice synthesis software in collaboration with major companies for music composers and educational facilities. We also provide a virtual male icon in accordance with our software, providing the project the duality of both Technology Software and Virtual pop singer idols.

“[I signed up for Ladies First Founders because] I want to build up connections with more talented women entrepreneurs on campus and learn how to launch a business systematically.” -Nanxin

Jordan Marshall ’23 (Marketing and Technology Entrepreneurship)
“I joined the Ladies First Founders class to gain knowledge that would help me turn my entrepreneurial dreams into actionable plans.” -Marshall

Syona Mehta ’25 (Public Health, PreMed)
“I signed up for Ladies First Founders to become inspired and empowered to follow my dreams.” -Mehta

Michael Ndiaye ’22 (Finance)
“From BMGT369D I hope to gain more perspective into the POV of being a female entrepreneur, and the struggles that come with it.” -Ndiaye

Kamsiyonna Ogochukwu Obiora-Offor ’22 (Operations Management, Business Analytics and Technology Entrepreneurship) ANY Art Collective
ANY Art Collective is an Art Zine that focuses on highlighting Black and POC artists.

“I want to learn more about the process of launching a business and take more steps to developing my own.” -Obiora-Offor

Takiyah Roberts ’25 (Material Science Engineering)
“I wanted to take Ladies First Founders to learn more about what it means to be a female entrepreneur. I also took this class to learn how to overcome the struggles that come with being a black woman in the field of entrepreneurship.” -Roberts

Keying Sun ’23 (Statistics)
“I hope to learn the intelligence and power of women, and I want to know other people’s ideas on starting business.” -Sun

Benis Tambe ’23 (Information Science and Technology Entrepreneurship)
“As member of Ladies first founders, I hope to learn what is needed to start a business.” -Tambe

Beniyam Berhan

Mia Lulli ’23

Isela Sanchez ’22

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ANNOUNCING THE FEARLESS FOUNDERS: NEW VENTURE PRACTICUM 2022 COHORT

New Venture Practicum is one of the Dingman Center’s signature courses. Taught by Maryland Smith Clinical Professor Oliver Schlake during the Spring semester, students experiment with business models, revenue streams and go-to-market strategies. By the end of this course, some startups are securing their first customers and generating revenue, while others are working on a beta or pilot. In the final class, students pitch for seed funding to move their business forward.

Read on to learn more about this cohort’s exciting student founders and their businesses!

Build Bigger – Jonathan MacGregor ’22
Build Bigger is a gym clothing brand company that builds community among people who go the gym. Targeted at mostly male audience aged (15-22), but increasing market fit.

Easy Park – Sarthak Patel ’25
An app that aims to make parking as convenient as possible by completely digitalizing the parking process where drivers would just have to park their car at their desired spot and they are one click away from parking their car.

Emily Garcia ’24

Em G Art Design Studio – Emily Garcia ’24 (Studio Art and Art Education)
Em G Art Design Studio offers handmade and personally designed products that can be gifted or used to personalize everyday living. These products are designed to be used as a source of inspiration, expression, and creativity.

Heart2Starr – Ileana Lozano ’22
Heart2Starr explores the influencer interface by taking its community members behind the scenes of the life and works of Ileana Lozano through a series of tweets. Heart2Starr creates conversations, inspires users worldwide, and offers community to users who resonate with its messages.

Paul Mouring ’22

Odin Electric – Paul Mouring ’22 (Mechanical Engineering)
A company focused on developing and implementing an alternate energy source that is cheap, safe, green and reliable. Odin’s generators will be necessary innovation that will help end the climate crisis.  

Sequester Carbon Certified – Nathan McMullen ’23
Many farms in Maryland are actively sequestering atmospheric CO2 in their soil, but consumers aren’t aware of these businesses impact on climate change. My venture certifies and labels products that sequester carbon for added value and visibility for eco-conscious consumers.

Shai Consulting – Shiv Agarwal ’23
I build Stand Operating Procedures that enable entrepreneurs ($1M-$10M revenue, 5-20 team members) to remove themselves from the execution of various business functions so that they can scale their operation. Additionally, my service streamlines, optimizes, and refines processes, however, this is not the target pain point.

Justin Fenn ’22

StockadooHrithik Bansal ’22 (Computer Science) and Justin Fenn ’22 (Computer Science)
Stockadoo is a stock market for content creators. Users can buy and sell shares of their favorite creators, and creators receive an alternative source of monetization.

Hrithik Bansal ’22

Sparza – Ryan Myer ’22 (Finance and Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
My team and I have created A Balancing Act card game which is a hilarious and wild combination of charades and Jenga. A Balancing Act is a card game that will eventually help fund Solis School, a school meant to provide unfortunate children with the opportunity to learn essential life skills and become successful in life.

Treasuremybeaute’ Treasure Valdez ’23 (Communication)
Treasuremybeaute’ is a brand designed for women with demanding lifestyles that are in need of high-performing products that saves time without compromising quality. TreasureMyBeaute’ products were created to add value, premium quality, and exclusivity to Women across the globe. Creating an experience of glamour that starts with our packing sparking and emotional charge as YOU unlock your gorgeousness.

Tribar – Perri Moeller ’22
This company makes protein bars made out of proprietary blend of jerky (beef, turkey, mushroom), seeds and veggies. The target market is for the active person who wants to stay satiated, with a bar that’s yummy and a complete macronutrient break down.

UCleaner – Blake Kuzemchak ’23
Geriatric and hospitalized individuals have reduced fine motor skills that makes it for them to adequately maintain their oral hygiene. As the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation is projected to significantly increase the geriatric population by 2030 and beyond, we aim to develop a product that facilitates oral hygiene within this vulnerable demographic.

Undefined Dreamerz – Takiyah Roberts ’25 (Material Science Engineering)
Undefined Dreamerz is a clothing brand that allows customers to be themselves unapologetically both in this reality and virtual realities. Undefined Dreamerz is a cutting edge streetwear fashion brand that is integrating technology with fashion. 

Venture – Isaac Lefkovitz ’24 Samai Patel ’24
When people move to new places, they need events to go to and people to go with. Venture solves this problem by connecting people to events where they can meet others who want to go, taking away the awkwardness that comes from having to make plans with someone new.

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Feature Friday! AnnasHandmadeHats

Founder of AnnasHandmadeHats, Anna Boyd ’24 (right), wearing her handmade balaclava.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Boyd: My name is Anna Boyd. I am a plant science major with a sustainability minor, 2024 graduation year.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Boyd: I am participating in Terp Marketplace this semester.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Boyd: I have a crochet business and I sell items like beanies, bucket hats, shirts, skirts, dresses, stuffed animals and more. I have had this business for about ten years and had my first table at a holiday sale when I was 13. 

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Boyd: My Grandma, Gg and my Aunt Kelly. Gg taught me how to knit when I was ten years old. She would always bring us crafts as kids and made me love knitting and being creative. My Aunt Kelly knits as well and is an amazing woman. She is so incredibly talented and helps me so much with patterns and ideas. I wouldn’t be where I am without them and the support of my mom, dad, and whole family.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Boyd: In the last six months I have made over $2,500 selling my crochet items through my instagram and Etsy, also a friend of mine, Olivia Wolfson wrote an article on my business for Her Campus magazine. I am also very proud of how much positive feedback I get from customers, I get a lot of people who order from me multiple times which I love and overall get so much support from my friends and customers. I am also very excited to be apart of Terp Marketplace.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Boyd: I am working on expanding my business more and participating in more events. I updated my etsy account to have a wider variety of my items, I will have a table at Terp Market place and am looking to apply for art attack in May. A big part of that is creating new fun things people like. I have some new stuff for Terp Marketplace that I am really excited to see if people enjoy and overall am working on many new styles and items to release.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Boyd: Even though I don’t have a big business by any means I consider myself successful. I think success is creating something you are proud of and the feedback you get from others. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Boyd: Find what you’re passionate about and stick with it. If you enjoy and are excited about your project, keep working on it and don’t give up.

To learn more about AnnasHandmadeHats please visit the Etsy here.

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Feature Friday! WISE Cities

WISE Cities is a platform designed to address social isolation among seniors.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Brodsky: Marie Brodsky, Mathematics major, STEM Ethics and Policy and Computer Science double minor, spring 2024 graduation year.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Brodsky: Dingman Fridays Advising and the 2022 Pitch Dingman Competition.

Marie Brodsky ’24

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Brodsky: WISE Cities designs accessible technology to address social isolation among the elderly. Our first mobile app allows senior citizens to form local groups, and gives community centers and local businesses the opportunity to connect with this hard-to-reach audience.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Brodsky: Our most important decisions are inspired by the individuals for whom we’re solving this problem – seniors in our own lives. We are also moved by what we hear from city representatives and community organizations trying to connect with the senior population. Finally, we are grateful for a trusted set of advisors who we can turn to when we feel unsure in our next steps.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Brodsky: Last spring, we were fortunate to have been offered a year-long pilot project with the City of Fairfax. Now, while continuing the pilot, we are deeply involved with our target market, both on administrative and personal levels, and both in our local communities and in national networks. We’ve received a lot of support for intergenerational thinking, and have been welcomed by organizations which serve seniors and wish for better ways to engage them through technology. In parallel, we’ve made significant steps in implementing our app as well as revamped our website at wisecities.us!

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Brodsky: In an effort to make the biggest difference, we are making it incredibly high priority to precisely understand the gaps in the current system that seniors find themselves in. That is, we are gaining input through avenues such as focus groups, interviews with seniors and families, and meetings with city officials ranging from those working in economic development to those leading committees in the health department. As our network and knowledge expands and we become further integrated into this community, we are able to design a solution that can be most helpful for a group that is often overlooked!

DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Brodsky: Being able to meaningfully contribute to addressing a very real issue is so motivating. Personally, I was inspired to start this project when my grandfather was living with me and I observed daily how little social interaction he got and how difficult it was for him to use all these apps covered in buttons and unnecessary features. Also, working in an enthusiastic team keeps us all going with this! It’s exciting to be in control of a new idea that could grow into something useful for many people.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Brodsky: Make sure to reach out to people who you can learn from! Creating a startup is really hard, and many problems are ones that you can’t predict in advance, but if you have people you can rely on for advice, you’re much more likely to make it work 🙂

To learn more about WISE Cities, please visit the website here.

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Feature Friday! Em G Art Design Studio

Founder, Emily Garcia ’24, selling original artwork and products at Terp Marketplace.

DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Garcia: Emily Garcia, Studio Art & Art Education double major, 2024 graduation year.

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Garcia: Terp Marketplace and Fearless Founders: New Venture Practicum (BMGT 468R)

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Garcia: Em G Art Design Studio offers handmade and personally designed products that can be gifted or used to personalize everyday living. These products are designed to be used as a source of inspiration, expression, and creativity.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup? 
Garcia: I understand what it’s like to juggle stressful events, illness, and lack of stability. Art is my source of expression. It is a place where I can create freely and with no restraints. But what also fuels my work is making someone smile from something I have made. Making someone smile is one of the best things in the world. For this reason, I strive to spread joy, inspiration, and hope through my startup.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Garcia: Within the last six months I have opened an Etsy shop, designed and made new products, registered into BMGT, applied for the TiE University Pitch Competition, designed my own business cards and certificates of authenticity for my paintings.

DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Garcia: I am working on getting more people to know about my business and presenting it in a professional way. In order to accomplish this, I have started creating videos to spread interest and to show behind the scenes on how I make my products. As well as, registering into BMGT at UMD.

DC: As a business owner, how do you define success?
Garcia: Success is when you set a goal and actively worked on achieving that goal. It involves learning from mistakes, identifying what worked and what did not.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Garcia: Do not be afraid of moving passed the “planning” stage. Take the steps to make your venture a reality, even if they may be small steps. Go for it!

To learn more about Em G Art Design Studio please visit the Etsy here.

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