Tag Archives: female founder

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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Reflections on the 2nd Annual Ladies First Fall Dinner

by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

Ladies First is the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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Sara Herald, Associate Director of Social Entrepreneurship began the Ladies First dinner with these words.  The theme of the evening—‘Purpose’ and an avenue to achieving that purpose—Social Entrepreneurship.

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Ladies First Profile: The Story Behind 2B

This story is part of a blog series for the launch of Ladies First, the Dingman Center’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

By: Nina Silverstein

I began every year of my teaching tenure in Baltimore by asking my students what they wanted to be when they grew up. My kindergarten and first grade students were eager to announce that they were going to be a teacher or a police officer or a football player. A select few said they wanted to be doctors or firefighters. I noticed that when I called my students “Dr. Demetira” or “Police Officer Denard”, their interest and engagement in their schoolwork peaked. Additionally, when my school held a career day, I again saw the level of engagement in school peak. It was as if the students saw the possibilities of future endeavors appear before them and helped them realize why school was important to achieving that.

2B colors.pngThat was when the idea for 2B emerged. 2B is a mission-driven clothing company aimed at expanding children’s horizons and helping them to envision themselves as a variety of different occupations when they grow up. 2B seeks to help students learn about different careers by providing books and clothing centered around each occupation, which helps to provide reasoning for why school is an important factor to their future success. We aim to make the connection between hard work in school and future attainment of their dreams. In order to ensure that all children benefit from envisioning their dreams, 2B will be donated to under-resourced schools so that every child, regardless of background, has the same access to opportunity and the same ability to envision themselves as anything they want to be when they grow up.

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Ladies First Profile: Shizu Okusa of JRINK

As part of the Dingman Center’s involvement in Women’s Month at Smith, this post profiles Shizu Okusa, a local founder who will be participating in our Ladies First: Becoming a Savvy Startup Investor workshop on March 10th.

by: Nina Silverstein MBA ’17

Shizu Okuza - Head shotShizu Okusa’s entrepreneurial journey has not been a lateral one, but rather a circuitous culmination of experiences that led her to co-found JRINK, a “fresh-pressed solution for life-pressed people.” The no-sugar added, preservative-free, cold-pressed juices are locally produced in Falls Church, Virginia, and have permeated the Washington D.C. healthy living scene. JRINK serves delicious and nutritious offerings via both their retail locations and online delivery.

Shizu’s path to launching JRINK was a winding one, first taking her to the trading floor at Goldman Sachs, where she met her future co-founder, Jennifer Ngai. After her analyst program ended, Shizu traveled to and worked in Mozambique and Bali, where yoga and clean eating were key priorities. It was during this trip that she became more curious about the world and other cultures. When she returned to D.C., Shizu took a job with the World Bank, where Jennifer was also working. Having kept in touch over the years, the two reunited and quickly realized that healthy food options were not available near their office. They did not have access to delivery services at the time and had no healthy options nearby, and the idea for JRINK emerged. Seeking to solve their own problem, Shizu and Jennifer began bringing their own juices to work, where colleagues would ask for tastes and where to one for themselves.

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