Tag Archives: incubator

A Summer Internship Making Entrepreneurship Inclusive at SEED SPOT

The Dugal Impact Fellowship Program provides a stipend for two undergraduate students to spend their summers interning at early-stage social enterprises, thanks to a generous gift from Ish ’05 and Priya Dugal ’05. 

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by: Adam Sarsony ’20

Incubators across the world tend to focus on established startups that are past seed stage. However, a group called SEED SPOT has decided to try a different strategy: focusing on seed stage startups, mostly with minority and female founders, and helping them to build social enterprises from the ground up.

This past summer I was fortunate enough to intern at SEED SPOT through a Dingman Center fellowship. SEED SPOT is a social enterprise incubator with offices in Washington, D.C. and Phoenix, providing training and resources to founders of nonprofits and for-profits with a social mission to help them grow and measure their impact. Throughout every level of engagement, SEED SPOT focuses on minority and female social entrepreneurs.

IMG_2716-1.JPGWorking at SEED SPOT was an experience like no other—I’ve thought about it as working at a startup that’s in the business of helping startups. The team is small and incredibly passionate about their work. The organization is only a few years old, having seen massive growth since first starting out and only recently adding their WeWork location in DC.

The SEED SPOT office in DC is littered with Mac chargers, marketing materials, books about social entrepreneurship, Harvard Business Review journals, and notebooks that SEED SPOT team members brought back from conferences to share. Working there was just as much an opportunity to access the SEED SPOT library as it was a job (which was perfect for nerds like myself).

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Stewart Fellow Interns at NYC Tech Incubator

At the Dingman Center, we work with many students who want to start their own business. We also work with students who don’t yet have an idea to pursue. For both groups, we encourage them to spend a summer interning in startup land. To jumpstart students’ startup careers, the Center offers two fellowship programs. Dingman Center Angel and Board of Advisors member, Kathryn Stewart, wanted more students to gain the valuable experience of working a venture capital firms and startups so she made a generous gift to form the Kathryn Stewart Fellowship Program. To be selected as a Stewart Fellow, students must secure a summer internship with a VC or angel-funded startup. Once selected, Stewart Fellows are granted a $5,000 stipend to supplement the summer salary offered through their internship.

When the program was launched last winter, student interest sky rocketed. However, many realized how hard it can be to find the right startup or VC to intern. This was not the case for Daniel Stern. Daniel has worked on a few business ideas as a Terp. He’s participated in the Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator program. This summer, he wanted the valuable experience of working at a tech incubator. Through an alumnus from his high school, Daniel learned about the Grand Central Tech Incubator. Pursuing the incubator’s summer internship program would allow Daniel to gain exposure to more than one startup and he jumped at the chance to apply to both Grand Central Tech Incubator and the Stewart Fellows.


Tell us about Grand Central Tech Incubator. What types of startups are there?

DS: Grand Central Tech is really unique in that they offer free rent and office space to startups without asking for equity.  They have startups apply to be in their program for a whole year, and after the year is up, most of the startups “graduate” to the upper floor of their building where they continue to operate and remain part of the GCT community.  The whole idea is to create the most vibrant tech and entrepreneurial hub in New York City.  There are startups working on all different challenges, from 3D printing and Bitcoin solutions to creating unique sports betting and online marketing platforms.

How many and which startups are you working with? 

DS: I’m splitting my time working for two startups currently: LiquidText and Barebands.  LiquidText helps users better understand, read and make connections with online content and analyzes how these people interact with this online content.  Barebands is a lightweight watch for fitness fanatics, looking to take their product into retail.  I will most likely spend end up all of my time working for LiquidText.

Take us through your day (or week) at your internship?  

DS: So far I’ve mostly been through orientation, which consisted of visiting the offices of Google, Microsoft, and General Assembly to learn about design thinking and the processes that go into building a startup.  Currently my day consists of figuring out the best route to get Barebands into retail, learning from people at other startups in the co-working space, and doing market and user research for LiquidText at night.

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What projects are you most looking forward to working on this summer? 

DS: I’m looking forward to building business partnerships and helping decide what features to launch with for LiquidText, and also helping Barebands get their foot in the door with retail stores.

Why did you want to intern at an incubator rather than a startup? 

DS: I wanted to intern at an incubator because I get to work with the best of the best entrepreneurs all under one roof while still getting the experience of working at one of their startups.  Being part of this incubator allows me to be part of a large entrepreneurial community while still getting experience at a startup.

What do you hope to gain from a summer spent in NYC? 

I hope to learn from experienced startup veterans how to start and grow a business and gain the skills necessary to do so myself.  I also hope to build relationships and meet some awesome people along the way.

Have you had any cool startup/networking experiences since you’ve been in NYC? 

DS: I haven’t had any crazy stories yet, but there are some impressive people working in GCT (the co-founder of Shapeways, the founder of Gilt, the founder of General Assembly, multiple ex Google executives) who I hope to get to meet and build relationships with as the summer goes on.

What else are you working on this summer?  

DS: On the side, I started my own Ecommerce website with a friend from UMD called East Coast Cornhole (www.eccornhole.com).  While it has yet to take off, running my own business is an awesome learning experience, and has forced me to learn extensively about internet and content marketing, as well as SEO and the patience it takes to grow a business from absolutely nothing.

Dan SternDaniel Stern is finance major and a junior at the University of Maryland. He’s from Cheshire, CT, and aspires to run his own startup in the near future. He’s passionate about tackling big problems and changing the way we view the world. During his time at UMD, Daniel has participated in the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders accelerator and competed in a Pitch Dingman Competition with his startup idea, Globoclub Fitness. In July 2015, Dan and a fellow student launched the e-commerce site, East Coast Cornhole (eccornhole.com), to sell high quality Cornhole Sets and Boards.

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Terp Toolkit: Finding Office Space for Your Startup

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.

Shared office spaces are popular among start-ups and an excellent way to find workspace without breaking the bank. Co-working spaces also often provide perks and resources beyond a desk, including: internet, conference space, area discounts, access to a network of business people and investors, kitchens, and even free snacks and coffee.

Startup-OfficeA few options to check out include:

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Introducing The Fearless Founders


The Fearless Founders program helps prepare student entrepreneurs from idea generation to business launch. The program demystifies the venture creation process by dividing it into three stages: Idea Shell, Hatch, and Terp Startup, each of which with its own deliverables. Powered by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), the program will offer students with necessary resources to meet their business requirements.

In this first Idea Shell cohort, the goal for the teams is to identify the value proposition through market research and the customer discovery process. They will participate in a series of workshops over the course of seven weeks and learn the necessary skills to refine their business and better understand their customers. In the final week, each team will be required to present on their progress and will receive $500 dollars in seed funding.

This fall, we were impressed by the quality and number of applications, but ultimately selected 22 teams for the first Idea Shell cohort. Congratulations to all the teams!

417 App Studios
Ghedalia, Gold-Pastor Major: Mechanical Engineering
Zach Matz Major: Kinesiology
Ed Luo Major: Finance

Advanced Heliostats
Andrew Oles Major: Mechanical Engineering

Carson, Myers Major: Computer Engineering
Daniel Bolton Major: Mechanical Engineering
Manjur Ahmed Major: Electrical Engineering

Bacon Barbell
Toni, Zhang Major: Marketing and Neurobiology

Casco Tech
Pedro Henrique, Santos Carvalho Major: Civil Engineering
Felipe Israel, Camargo Pereira Major: Computer Science

Color Changing Soap
Erica, Long Major: MBA
Laura, Long Major: MBA

Ethical Clothing
Chetan, Singh Major: Economics

Food Recovery Network
Ben Simon Major: Government and Politics
Evan Lutz Major: Business

Thomas, Luginbill Major: Entrepreneurship

Obidi, Orakwusi Major: Government and politics
Kachi Ilochonowu Major: Economics

Eric, Mintzer Major: Business Management
Anthony, Ingelido

Aaron, Schwartz Major: Economics

Live Unchained
Kathryn, Buford Major: Sociology
Gary Fong

Meir, Snyder Major: Entrepreneurial Operations

Parallel Tracks
Daniel, Noskin Major: Business Management and Marketing

Mohsen, Farshneshani Major: Government and Politics
Mohsen Farshneshani, Lamar Rogers

Prasidiux, LLC
Kevin, Diehn Major: Chemical Engineering
Bani Cipriano Major: Chemical Engineering

Rafiki Beads
Kikanae, Punyua Major: Economics
Mackenzie Burnett Major: Government and Politics

Sweet Buds
Allan, Nicholas Major: Engineering and Business
Erica Yingling Major: Biology
Ningwei Li Major: Finance and Economics
Peter Weng Major: Biology

The Island Pop Shop
Tenaj, Ferguson Major: Nutrition and Food Science

Scott, Block Major: Information Systems
Justin, Searles

We wish all the participating teams good luck. We will keep our readers updated on their progress in future blog posts. Stay tuned!

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