Tag Archives: female founder

Introducing the Spring 2019 Cohort of Ladies First Founders

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On Tuesday afternoons, the Smith School’s executive board room is taken over by the second cohort of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First Founders program, a group of nine young women united by their experiences as female entrepreneurs. At the head of the room’s imposing conference table sits adjunct professor Sara Herald, MBA ’11, the Dingman Center’s Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship and founder of the Ladies First initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

This year, the Ladies First Founders were paired with expert female mentors to help guide their entrepreneurial journeys. The theme of this year’s Ladies First initiative is centered around role models, and these successful women provide an inspiring template for the cohort to follow. Over the course of the semester, we’ll be catching up with these student founders to see how their venture ideas have progressed under the guidance of professor Sara Herald and their mentors.

Read on to learn more about the diverse group of female founders and businesses that make up the Spring 2019 Ladies First Founders cohort:

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Hisaoka Speaker Series Founders Panel Preview: Kristen McClellan

The Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series continues with a Founders Panel on Tuesday, February 19 from 4:30-6:00 p.m. Panelists Paul Capriolo ’06, Kristen McClellan and Jeff Grass are all successful entrepreneurs who started their businesses as students. In a panel moderated by Robert Hisaoka, students, staff, faculty and alumni will hear about the experiences and challenges each founder faced transforming their ideas into lucrative businesses. Register now to attend, and stay tuned to our blog to learn more about each of the panelists.

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SnappyScreen, Inc. – Kristen McClellan

Kristen is the Founder & CEO of SnappyScreen. SnappyScreen is the world’s first touchless sunscreen application system. Customers select their SPF, height and receive an even application of sunscreen in seconds. SnappyScreen’s proprietary sunscreen, SunStyles, is one of the only formulas that is oxybenzone-free, paraben-free, reef-safe and does not stain clothing.

SnappyScreen was born on a family vacation after Kristen watched her sister apply sunscreen for 20 minutes and still end up with a splotchy tan. After researching sunscreen, Kristen realized more people have skin cancer than all other cancers combined yet sunscreen sales continue to soar. While people are purchasing sunscreen, only 1/3 apply correctly. Kristen then dedicated her undergraduate career at Cornell to finding a solution. While at school, she built 3 prototypes and beta tested the machine at two Caribbean hotels. In 2015, Kristen competed in the 10th annual Cupid’s Cup business competition and won third place and $5,000.

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Spotlight on Role Models at the Third Annual Ladies First Fall Dinner

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by: Megan McPherson, Events & Marketing Manager

The Ladies First Fall Dinner is the flagship event of the Dingman Center’s Ladies First initiative to expose more female students at University of Maryland to entrepreneurship. Each year, it attracts young women from all across campus for an evening where they can explore the unique challenges and strengths shared by women as they look to launch companies or lead them post-graduation. The third annual Ladies First Fall Dinner on November 1 in Van Munching Hall focused on “role models”, introducing a room comprised solely of female undergraduate students to two inspirational female founders in the cosmetics industry: alumna and serial entrepreneur Mary Schulman ’97, co-founder of PYT Beauty; and current student Brianna Queen ’19, founder of BEEQBOX and second place winner of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition. In a fireside chat moderated by associate director and Ladies First leader Sara Herald, MBA ’11, Brianna and Mary shared their inspiring founder stories and imparted valuable wisdom to 65 student attendees. Below are some of the recurring themes that both entrepreneurs touched upon during the discussion.

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3 Key Lessons from the Inaugural Ladies First Founders Cohort

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From left: Fiona Whitefield, Jasmine Snead, Natalie Urban, Yinyin Liao, Jess Rosenthal, Sara Herald, Sydney Parker, Audrey Awasom, Megha Guggari, Maria Chen & Breonna Massey

Last week, the inaugural cohort of Ladies First Founders gave presentations on their entrepreneurial journeys. Each female student reflected not only on the growth of their business, but also on how they have personally grown since joining the class. Presentations were followed by feedback from the rest of the cohort, and for every young woman who presented, each of her peers had something uniquely positive to compliment about her confidence, delivery, style or attitude. Witnessing these women celebrate one another and show empathy for their shared struggles was a beautiful experience.

Throughout the presentations, it was evident that before Ladies First Founders, many of these women suffered in isolation from shared issues that, once together, they were able to properly identify and work to overcome. Here are some of the greatest outcomes of taking workshops and connecting with fellow female entrepreneurs in Ladies First Founders:

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Gender & Entrepreneurship at the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

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Left to right: Mabel Abraham, David Ross, Dolly Oberoi and Rajshree Agarwal

by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

On Friday April 20th, at the 14th Annual Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference chaired by Professors Anil Gupta and David Kirsch, the Dingman Center’s Ladies First Initiative sponsored a panel discussion, “Gender and Entrepreneurship: Past, Present and Future.”

Sara Herald, our Ladies First champion, shared a thought-provoking statement to introduce the panel discussion: she described the mission of the Ladies First initiative as focused upon understanding the different barriers that female students face and how we can fix the system, not fix the women.

This was an apt introduction to spur further investigation in the area of gender and entrepreneurship, which brought 2 researchers, Mabel Abraham from Columbia University and David Ross from University of Florida, together with Dolly Oberoi, Co-Founder and Chairman of C2 Technologies, to discuss the topic of female entrepreneurship in the US.

The session chair and moderator, Rajshree Agarwal, asked salient questions and highlighted the reality that being a female founder has nearly universally negative outcomes, particularly  in the US. As researchers and founders discussed the hypotheses and reasons for this, something became increasingly clear—even though the barriers have been reduced, it is a misconception to think that the barriers are gone.

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Reflecting on the Ladies First: Dolphin Tank with Springboard Enterprises

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by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

On Tuesday, April 3, Springboard Enterprises brought Dolphin Tank to the University of Maryland, in collaboration with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s ‘Ladies First’ initiative. The Ladies First initiative is a commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.

Now, as a self-professed ‘Shark Tank’ lover, I truly love learning about entrepreneurs’ ventures and hearing the critical feedback from the ‘sharks’ across market size, valuation and true opportunity for growth. In fact, after continued viewing, I found myself often adopting the role of an investor, asking the questions from the comfort of my living room and feeling quite good about anticipating the concerns or questions that an investor might have.

That’s my version of a fun night sometimes; What can I say? I love entrepreneurship in all forms.

So when I heard Springboard Enterprises was bringing Dolphin Tank to campus, I, naturally, jumped at the chance to swim with the sharks – or dolphins.

Springboard Enterprises describes Dolphin Tank as “helpful feedback-driven pitch sessions for entrepreneurs to receive constructive insights from knowledgeable professionals. Dolphin Tanks aren’t about sharks, piranhas, dragons, or competing for the best idea – they’re about channeling the expertise of the people in the room. The Dolphin Tank is an interactive discussion led by an expert panel that focuses on one thing: “How can we help?” 

After attending my very first Dolphin Tank, I was impressed with the willingness of the attendees in the room to not only provide constructive feedback, but to provide connections also.

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An Inside Look at the Inaugural Ladies First Founders Cohort

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From left: Audrey Awasom, Yinyin Lao, Megha Guggari, Maria Chen, Natalie Urban, Breonna Massey, Sydney Parker, Jess Rosenthal, Jasmine Snead, Fiona Whitefield, Sara Herald

by: Megan McPherson

This semester, something truly remarkable is happening on Monday afternoons in the Smith School’s executive board room. Sitting around the room’s imposing conference table are the inaugural Ladies First Founders cohort, ten young women united by their experiences as female entrepreneurs. At the head of the table sits adjunct professor Sara Herald, the Dingman Center’s Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship and founder of the Ladies First initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. Yesterday, I was offered the privilege to sit in on the class and discover what Ladies First Founders is all about. What started out as an observational study for a blog post became an empowering exercise in what can happen when women are given a platform to learn from and support one another.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: BEEQBOX

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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BEEQBOX

Brianna Queen, Founder & CEO

beelogo.pngJunior Information Science major Brianna Queen is the founder of BEEQBOX, a makeup brand targeted to millennials that sells illuminating setting sprays, glitter eyeshadow and lip palettes. Brianna started BEEQBOX in August 2016 as a subscription box service featuring black-owned makeup brands. Once she started getting orders, she decided to work on formulating a product of her own to include. That November, some negative personal experiences gave her the idea to create BEEQBOX’s flagship product, “F*ckboy Repellent”, an illuminating setting spray with packaging that promises its contents are vegan, cruelty-free, all-natural, and will also ward off advances from unworthy men. After sharing a photo of her product on social media it went viral, and was soon featured by popular style sites like Revelist and Instagram influencers who were excited to promote such an on-trend product. As Brianna prepares for Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, she’s looking to take her business to the next level.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Emprology

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Sydney Parker, Founder & CEO

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Senior communications major Sydney Parker is the founder, CEO and “Empress” of Emprology, an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate black female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize their content. Sydney, who built her social media credentials through multiple Facebook internships, started Emprology as a service that provided her customers with one-on-one consultations, marketing plans and creative assets to enhance their brand presence. With some concerns about overtaxing her own bandwidth, she recently launched a school for aspiring influencers called #BrandBoss Academy. As part of this school model,  established macro-influencers teach classes and provide mentorship to aspiring influencers, who pay an appropriate fee for the privilege. Sydney has been developing Emprology since spring 2017, when she first entered the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders Accelerator. Through grit and determination, Sydney has built Emprology into a one-stop-shop for black women who want to learn how to make a living off of their passions.

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Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals Recap

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This past Thursday, we hosted our annual Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals in the Frank Auditorium of Van Munching Hall. With the recent news that University of Maryland had risen to #8 in the country in undergraduate entrepreneurship education, it was no surprise to see the room filled with attendees enthusiastically cheering for this extraordinary group of student founders.

Chaired by generous donor and UMD alumnus Robert G. Hisaoka, this year’s Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals was preceded by an announcement for the new Hisaoka Entrepreneurs program. As part of the program, each semifinalist team will receive mentoring, coaching and additional funding to accelerate their venture toward success.

With only 4 minutes to present and 2 minutes for Q&A from judges, the 10 semifinalists all pitched their businesses admirably, but in the end, the judges chose these six exemplary startups to advance to the Finals:

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