Tag Archives: harry geller

Meet Fearless Founder Osvaldo Bianchi

This week, Dingman Center Marketing Graduate Assistant, Grant Lee, caught up with Osvaldo Bianchi for the third interview of Fearless Founders series. Let’s see what they had to say.

Grant Lee (GL): Hi Osvaldo, nice to meet you. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Osvaldo Bianchi (OB): I am a freshman majoring in electrical engineering. I was born in Argentina and grew up in Brazil. I came to the U.S. in 2000, and the first place I lived was in Florida. Now I am at the University of Maryland.

GL: How did you get involved with the Dingman Center?
OB: I was in the Startup Shell and people there told me about Innovation Fridays. I always have lots of ideas. One day I said to myself, why not try it! Then I began to get involved. People in the Dingman Center critiqued my ideas a lot, but that helped me to get rid of some unrealistic ideas. What usually happened is that after each session, I come back with another idea.

GL: Describe your business idea. What is the problem and what is your solution?
OB: My Company is called Viip. The problem that I have found is through personal observation. When I went to concerts in South America, there were always long lines, and it was common to see people using fast passes. However, I haven’t seen anything like this here, and I wanted to create something similar. My solution is that customers in a venue who pay a “premium” price would be able to walk in and not wait in line. One of the important ideas of this service is that the price depends on what venue you want to get into. The price someone would pay in College Park would be much lower then a venue in Washington D.C. One of the important mindsets that I have is that innovation starts with empathy. Having a deep connection with the people who are your customers is essential. So what I am willing to pay is what the average customer would be willing to pay.

GL: What is your goal for the business?
OB: My goal is to become something that evolves to be a successful startup, keeps the momentum, and eventually gets seed funding and potential for growth.

GL: Do you have any partners?
OB: Currently I have a developer partner. His name is Jackson Geller, son of Entrepreneur-in-Residence Harry Geller. I work on business networking and he does platform development.

GL: I know it is difficult to be an entrepreneur, what challenges have you encountered so far?
OB: One of the challenges that I have faced is finding partners.I need to show others that I am serious about my business. Because I am young, I also need to show them I am mature enough to pursue the business. Another challenge is to build trust. Often times, it is not just the idea that makes it a viable business, but the trust that you gave built to make it possible. My focus right now is to work on one venue, Cornerstone Bar & Grill in College Park. Cornerstone has the biggest line in the area. It has the biggest hurdle so far.

GL: What have you learned from the Fearless Founders program so far?
OB: This spring, I enrolled in the Fearless Founders Hatch course. The first couple weeks we mostly focused on the “client research”. We needed to do five interviews per week for potential clients. The interviews helped me learn how to find clients. I went to bars in the College Park area and reached out to people standing in lines. I asked them questions like: “How long have you been waiting?”; ”How much are you willing to pay to walk in without waiting in line?”; and “Do you have any suggestions for me?”. These definitely helped me a lot to generate insights from customers.

GL: How has Fearless Founders helped you as a student?
OB: Fearless Founders helped me to better structure problems and ask the right questions. For example, originally one of my question to potential customers was “would you be willing to pay $10 dollars for this service?” But after joining the program, I have learned that I should let customers tell me how much they want to pay, so I revised it to ”What would you pay for this service?” Small things like this can make a big difference. Also, by speaking with Harry Geller I understood the importance of networking. I’ve learned a lot from him.

GL: Is there anything else that you would like say to our readers?
OB: Sure. Many people say that freshmen do not know what to do in their first year. I think those people are wrong. I think freshman year is the time for people to try without being afraid of making mistakes. By doing so they can keep narrowing down their interests and find what they really want to do.

OBOsvaldo Bianchi
Osvaldo Bianchi is a student at the University Of Maryland pursuing Electrical Engineering with a focus on entrepreneurship. He is a member of the Startup Shell, an on campus startup incubator. Osvaldo is originally from Argentina and has lived in three countries over the span of ten years. He can be contacted at me@osvaldobianchi.com or Osvaldobianchi.com.

About Viip viip
Website: getviip.com
Twitter: @getviip
Facebook: facebook.com/getviip


Grant Lee
Grant Lee is a second year full-time MBA student focused on Marketing at Smith School of Business. Prior to Smith, he had four year experiences in retail marketing and sales management. He is passionate about sports, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is currently seeking career opportunities in sports and marketing management. To know more about him, check out his blog: mrgrantlee.com 

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Worth Reading 3/8/2013

What a week it’s been? We hope you all stayed safe when Winter Storm Saturn rolled around, we weren’t hit too badly here in College Park.  Other than that, we’ve been going full speed ahead in preparation for Cupid’s Cup, which will be here in less than a month! If you haven’t already registered, go to http://cupidscup.eventbrite.com/ and save your seat for the event.  Registration is free, but seats are limited, and the venue fills up every year!

With that said, let’s take a look at some interesting reads we’ve found during the last few weeks

It seems like more and more people are taking notice of DC as an entrepreneurial hub. This comes to no surprise to those of us who’ve been here for years, but it’s great that the rest of the world is also starting to catch on.  Here’s a great profile from Entrepreneur.com profiling the DC scene, and another article from In the Capital highlighting DC being ranked as one of the top cities for female entrepreneurs!

If you’re like me, coming up with a name for anything takes forever and a day. How do you come up with something that both describes the business and sets you apart from your competition?  This article from Young Entrepreneur gives 6 handy tips to keep in mind when coming up with that perfect name.

In awesome new tech news, a lot’s been said about 3d printing recently, but what about 4d printing? A team from MIT revealed their new innovation on 3d printing at the TED Conference last week.  A 3d printed object that changes shape and assembles itself after printing!  Check out this article from Tested.com to see it in action!

Finally in Dingman Center family news, Managing director Elana Fine was featured in an article last week regarding the oncoming impacts of crowdfunding with equity. Crowdfunding was also the topic of the latest Innovation Fridays podcast, featuring Elana, Ed Barrientos, and Jason Shrensky. And saving the best for last, Jackson Gellar, son of EIR Harry Gellar, was featured in his school newspaper for a company that he started, proving that it’s never too early to start being an entrepreneur!

Until next time, and don’t’ forget to BUY YOUR CUPID’S CUP TICKETS!

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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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Tips for pitching your business idea

A business pitch can make or break a startup. Delivering a successful pitch can grab the attention of potential investors, attract customers, and even win funding in a Pitch Dingman Competition! How can you tell if your pitch will be successful? Check out these tips from a few of our Dingman Center all-stars to get advice on pitching your new business idea.


Rudy Lamone, Dingman Center Founder

“Your opening statement must grab the attention of your listener or in most cases you have failed; so try again.”


Asher Epstein, Dingman Center Managing Director

“Focus first on what problem you are solving. Is this a vitamin or aspirin problem (must have vs. nice to have)? Second, concentrate on who specifically has this problem. The target market needs to be tight and focused. Finally, what is your solution and why is it better, faster or cheaper than current options?”


Elana Fine, Dingman Center Director of Venture Investments

“Know your customer. Pitching a business isn’t just about the product or technology you are creating, but about who you will sell it to, why they will buy it and how often/how much. Before you start a business, make sure you spend time talking to potential customers to confirm that you have identified a real market needs that people are willing to pay for versus other existing options.”


Alla Corey, Dingman Center Program Manager

“Show passion and commitment to your idea. Investors must believe that not only you possess skills necessary to carry out your plan, but are also dedicated and will not give up when challenges arise. “


Harry Geller, Dingman Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence

“Be brief. You should be able to clearly state your idea in two or three sentences. Practice this with some friends and see if they can comprehend the idea, if so then you are ready. Pitch Dingman sessions are limited to 10-15 minutes so you want to get the idea understood quickly so you have time to receive valuable feedback.”


Do you have a business idea still in the “back-of-the-napkin” stage? Come to a Pitch Dingman informal session held every Friday 11am-1pm in the Dingman Center for valuable feedback from one of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Our team of veteran entrepreneurs are here to share their advice and expertise.

For more information, visit the Pitch Dingman Homepage

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