Tag Archives: Idea Shell

Fearless Founders Complete Successful Semester by Winning Seed Funds

The Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator program guides the University of Maryland’s most entrepreneurial students from idea to launch. This experiential program demystifies the venture creation process by breaking it up into three stages: Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup. At the recent Pitch Dingman Semifinal Competition, 10 students from the Idea Shell stage were awarded $500 seed grants provided by Capital One. These students spent much of the semester interviewing customers to validate ideas and developing a minimum viable product. At the final Idea Shell meeting, each founder pitched his or her idea in hopes of receiving one of the Capital One MVP grants. In the end, the following 10 startups received funding.

Idea Shell grant recipients.

Idea Shell $500 Capital One MVP grants:


Founder: Carl Comasco

Currently, homeowners have to contact multiple contractors in order to get a home refreshed. Refresh is a service that will provide “one stop shop” for curb appeal improvement.


Founder: Natalie Urban

uBoard manufactures and sells customizable headboards for college students. Customers can order any color or pattern they would like. For example, the company offers solid colors, the Maryland flag, and tapestry style patterns. The uBoard is high-quality, affordable for the college market and easy to install.

East Habesha

Founder: Saron Asfaw

East Habesha is a website that sells Ethiopian dresses and food spices to customers in the DC metropolitan area. There is a large population of Ethiopians in the DC metropolitan area and there are many vendors that supply these necessities. What makes this startup different is that the prices are low but the quality is high.


Founder: Shyon Parsadoust

RollaWire is a small earphone cord retracting device. Users place their earphones in the Rollawire device to prevent a dangerous and annoying tangled mess. The device keeps the earphones neat and organized. With RollaWire, users can retract  earphone cables and replace them if they break. An added benefit is that the user can extend the earphones out as far as desired because there is a lock.

Campfire Marketing

Founder: Bret Caples

A digital and experiential marketing firm that leverages the media assets of the university to provide custom marketing solutions to businesses in the area. The startup provides a community oriented approach to marketing consulting for the small to medium business and student groups who can’t afford large scale marketing efforts.


Founder: Gabriel LaFranchi

Snapchat is the best way to connect and engage with customers through social media since it combines photos, videos, text and emojis. However, Snapchat is missing a key element, the search function. Snapvertise helps jumpstart and run company-centric Snapchat accounts  in order to increase followers who want to connect and engage with a company or brand.


Co-Founders: Ab Kapoor & David Potter

There are a lot of factors that determine your credit score, but no service that helps manage all of this chaos. Curu is here to alleviate that pain by providing the tools to clear up this gray area of credit and put users on the road to saving thousands. Through giving users a live Heads Up Display of factors influencing their credit, and a unique payment cycle to optimally increase a users credit score. Curu helps the user understand and take charge of their credit.


Founder: John Harlepas

CellShare is a service that allows people to buy and sell data from each other. Essentially, it is Uber for data.


Founder: Philemon Mastewal

The current music selection process is a dictatorship where one person has full control. Queue allows users to select upcoming music choices so they can hear the music they want.

Pregrame Ritual

Founder: James Thompson

The Pregame Ritual is the most convenient and digestible way to receive sports news. Via a newsletter, the startup delivers everything a sports fan needs to stay in the loop. Pregame Ritual sends readers one email each weekday morning.

Capital One provides MVP grants in both the Idea Shell and Hatch phases of Fearless Founders. Learn more about the program by visiting our website.

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Top Ten Reasons to Join Fearless Founders Idea Shell

Welcome back to campus, entrepreneurs! The Dingman Center programs are well underway for the semester. Currently, we’re holding info sessions for Idea Shell, the first step of the Fearless Founders evidence-based accelerator program taught by successful entrepreneurs. The next info session is set for Monday, September 21 from 3 to 4 p.m. The deadline to sign-up for Fearless Founders: Idea Shell, Fall 2015 Cohort is rapidly approaching. The tentative schedule includes nine workshops/sessions on Monday’s, 2-4 pm, beginning Monday, September 28 and concluding Monday, November 16.

Upon your successful completion of Idea Shell, you are eligible for Hatch, a for-credit course (BMGT468 or ENES498) in Spring 2016. Here are the Top Ten reasons to join Idea Shell from some of the alumni of Fearless Founders:

Photo Dec 15, 4 25 21 PM10. Join a cohort of passionate entrepreneurs

9. Validate your problem/customer/solution fit

8. Practice customer discovery and “Talking to Humans”

7. Use feedback, iterate and pivot on your idea

6. Develop your plan for your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

5. Network with the vast Dingman Center community

4. Prepare yourself for the “Hatch”, Fearless Founders Stage

3. Present your idea for $500 in seed funds

2. Participate in the “Speed Pitch” elevator pitch event

1. Receive the exclusive title of being a “Fearless Founder”

Don’t keep talking to your family and friends about your great ideas. Turn your ideas into a business by joining Fearless Founders: Idea Shell!

Sign-up Here

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Terp Entrepreneur Launches Locks of Curls

Fredrica Antwi, Founder, Locks of Curls

Fredrica Antwi, Founder, Locks of Curls

Fredrica Antwi, a senior studying Accounting and Finance at the University of Maryland, was tired of spending a ton of money purchasing hair products to tame her naturally curly hair. After countless trips to the beauty supply store left her broke and unhappy, she decided to do something about it.

“I would spend so much money purchasing products but at the end of the day, they would end up in a cabinet somewhere unfinished,” said Fredrica.

So, she came up with Locks of Curls, an exciting way for people with naturally curly hair to experiment with products without a huge commitment or breaking the bank.

Continue reading

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Fearless Founders Complete Successful Year With Seed Funds

The Fearless Founders program guides the University of Maryland’s most entrepreneurial students from idea to launch. For the first time, students are able to earn credit for working on their businesses by enrolling in the Fearless Founders Hatch course, taught by Managing Director, Elana Fine (@elanafine). These students have solidified their business idea, begun customer development, built their minimum viable product and have completed milestones from Idea Shell stage. As we wrap up the year, the Dingman Center recognized the students in the Hatch Stage of Fearless Founders. Take a look at the entrepreneurs who were awarded funding to continue working on their business ideas beyond the course.


Ten companies were awarded $500 NCIIA grants:

Amlith – Carson Myers & Manjur Ahmed
Diagnostic AnSERS – Sean Virgile
Puzzable (417 App Studios) – Ghedalia Gold-Pastor & Zach Matz
PoliRoots – Lamar Rogers
justlikeyou.org – Brooks Gabel
VentureBoard – Scott Block
Phetter (formerly Blissic) – Leland Tran
Live Unchained – Kathryn Buford
LeagueFlow – Aaron Schwartz
Gym Supreme – Obidi Orakwusi & Onyekachi Illochonwu

Five companies were awarded $1,000 summer scholarships:

ProCity – Chris Lane & Dev Kavathekar
ViiP – Ozzie Bianchi
Pride Shorts – Ian Moritz
Taipei Fitness – Guarav Gupta
My Level Learning – Meir Snyder

Two companies were awarded $2,500 grants from Capital One:

Parallel – Daniel Noskin
Kivvik – Jeremy Horowitz, Emmanuel Kaska & Chike Nwankwo

Finally, a big congratulations to our seniors who advanced to the Terp Startup stage!

Aaron Schwarts (LeagueFlow)
Jeremy Horowitz (Kivvik)

Guarav Gupta (Taipei Fitness)
Brooks Gabel (justlikeyou.org)
Daniel Noskin (Parallel)

Are you interested in pursuing your business idea? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Learn more about the Fearless Founders program by visiting our website.
  • If you have an idea, but haven’t developed the business yet, start with Idea Shell! Interested students should sign-up here and we will contact you with more information.
  • If you have already completed the Idea Shell stage, enroll for the for-credit Hatch course. It is listed in Testudo as BMGT458R/ENES498R. 
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