Tag Archives: Pitch Dingman Competition

Feature Friday! Around the Block

Co-founders of Around the Block, Gabrielle McLaughlin ’23 (left) and Joelle Anselmo ’23 (right) pitching during the Pitch Dingman Competition 2023 Finals.

DC: What are your names, majors, and graduation years?
McLaughlin: My name is Gabi McLaughlin and I am a senior finance and management major. Joelle Anselmo my co-founder is a senior journalism and business management major. 

DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
McLaughlin: We have been involved with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s Pitch Dingman Competition 2023. We have also come in for Dingman Advising. 

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
McLaughlin: Around the Block is a college apparel company that sells unique and sustainable clothing. These products provide a snapshot of College towns which invoke nostalgia and represent college from the students perspective. 

DC: Who or what is your biggest influence for your startup?
McLaughlin: It is hard to pick just one! So many people have helped and inspired us along the way. Joelle and I have a professor named Steve Freishtat and I would say that so far he has left a very lasting influence on the business and us as entrepreneurs and people! 

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
McLaughlin: We originally had the idea for the map and instantly thought it would be fun to put the maps on tshirts. This is how we got into the apparel business. We would love to continue expanding into other merchandise. 

Around the Block taking home the Main Street Track’s Grand Prize of $20,000 at the PDC 2023.

DC: Now that you’ve won the Pitch Dingman Competition ‘23, what’s next for your company?
McLaughlin: We plan on expanding our company and ramping up production. In the past we did not have the resources to put in big orders and we’re falling short of demand. With the Pitch Dingman prize we can reach out potential at UMD and begin looking at product expansion and expansion to other Universities. We are also able to make lots of improvements on our marketing and online presence.  

DC: As a student business owner, how do you define success?
McLaughlin: I am not sure if I have one solid definition yet for success. It changes every year for me right now as I’m going through different phases of life and school. I will be proud if ATB makes a lasting impact on campus communities and helps foster a more sustainable and philanthropic retail industry. 

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
McLaughlin: My first advice would be to just go for it! If you are ever hesitating about starting something try to start small and test it out and you may be surprised with what you find. I would also advise people to find mentors and surround themselves with a great support system to help them along the way. 

To learn more about Around the Block, please visit the website here.

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Announcing the Semifinalists of the 2020 Pitch Dingman Competition

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This year’s Pitch Dingman Competition application phase saw a wide range of applications from undergraduate, graduate and PhD students from across UMD. After undergoing a quarterfinals review from alumni judges, we’re excited to announce the 2020 Pitch Dingman Competition semifinalists. The founders of the semifinalists teams will participate in workshops and receive mentoring to help them further accelerate their businesses, whether or not they make the cut for Pitch Dingman Competition Finals. On Friday, November 22 from 1-4 p.m. in Van Munching Hall, these 10 student startups will pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges at the Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals. We’re excited to see who wins the opportunity to pitch at the Finals on March 10, 2020 for a shot at the grand prize of $15,000!

Read on to learn more about each semifinalist team in their own words:

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An Interview With Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: crepkitchen

In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 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 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.



Mathew Steininger ’22, Founder & CEO

Crep Kitchen logo-01

DC: Tell us about your startup.

MS: The latest limited-edition Jordan shoe is released, and thousands of sneakerheads around the world run into the same dreaded message: sold out. They were either minutes too slow, or they were unaware this release was happening at all. Then, in a few hours, the sneaker is restocked, but for the final time, it very quickly becomes sold out again. Many sneakerheads run into this problem with every limited release.

crepkitchen solves this problem by making sure users don’t miss out on these releases. We offer an online subscription service that instantly notifies users of product restocks and other essential information for limited edition sneakers and clothing releases before they sell out. This guarantees that all of our customers are best prepared to succeed during any limited edition releases.

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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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Pitch Dingman Competition Finals Rundown

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The Pitch Dingman Competition Finals were on Tuesday, March 7 and as promised the Dingman Center and our partners gave away more than $30,000 in startup funding! Here’s the breakdown:

The David & Robyn Quattrone Grand Prize – $15,000
Curu, David Potter & Abb Kapoor

Second Place Prize – $7,500
CourseHunter, Aaron Bloch, Benjamin Khakshoor

Third Place Prize – $3,500
Gravity LLC, Richard Kong

Audience Choice Prize – $1,500
Curu, David Potter & Abb Kapoor

Runners Up
Grumpy Joes, Gary Hwang
POSH, Nathalyn Nunoo

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: CourseHunter

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 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 a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.


Aaron Bloch, Co-Founder (pictured right)
Benjamin Khakshoor, Co-Founder (pictured left)

CourseHunterLogoCourseHunter is an online platform that is revolutionizing course registration for college students. Students looking to get into important classes often encounter too-full classes with long waitlists that jeopardize the overall timing of their four-year plan. The CourseHunter website integrates with existing registration systems to help notify students when a class they are interested in opens up, allowing them to sign up for classes without worrying about waitlists. After achieving success with students using Testudo at University of Maryland, they launched at George Washington University and University of Southern California, and are looking to adapt to supplement registration systems at more schools.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Curu

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 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 a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.


Curu’s co-founders at the Semifinals, from left: David Potter, CEO and Abb Kapoor, COO


David Potter, CEO
Abb Kapoor, COO

Curu is a website and mobile application that assesses your spending habits and then notifies you of convenient, seamless ways you can improve or enhance your existing practices to optimize your credit score. Curu’s selling point is “credit confidence”—keeping Curu in the background to help you spend smarter will ensure you can make big purchases like buying a car or a house and never worry about high interest rates. Though the target market for Curu is primarily 25-30 year-olds working toward making large purchases, the founders see their product as appealing not just to an age group, but to anyone who is interested in improving their credit score.

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Introducing the Pitch Dingman Competition Finalists

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The Semifinal round of Pitch Dingman Competition saw its biggest turnout ever this year. Over 300 people packed into Frank Auditorium, popcorn in hand, to watch their friends and fellow students compete for the night’s award opportunities. With only 4 minutes to pitch and 2 minutes to answer questions from the judges, each semifinalist was tasked with communicating their story and value proposition in a short span of time. It was a tough competition, with each team giving an impressive showing. The five teams who made it to the Finals distinguished themselves through sound business models, impressive traction and a clear vision for building their startup. Read on below for a list of the finalists.

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Terp Startup K. Sultana Creates Breathable Head Scarves For Muslim Women

Omar Goheer is on a mission to change the way Muslim women feel in a head scarf. His company, K.Sultana, was founded to solve the prevalent problem of discomfort from hot temperatures experienced by Muslim woman who wear the head scarf. These innovative scarves ventilate and provide comfort over the head and around the neck through the use of a unique blend of breathable and lightweight fabrics. The K. Sultana scarf can be worn over the head by women who wear the hijab or it can be used as the perfect fashion accessory for women who choose to not wear the hijab. K. Sultana also has a social impact component to the business, partnering with local homeless shelters to allow battered and abused Muslim women help sell the scarves in exchange for a sales commission.

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Announcing the Spring 2015 Pitch Dingman Competition Winners

Last week’s snow storm couldn’t keep the Smith community from celebrating student entrepreneurship at the spring 2015 Pitch Dingman Competition. Held twice annually, the competition gives student entrepreneurs the opportunity to apply and compete for $3,500 in startup funding.

Five finalists were selected to pitch their businesses to a packed auditorium and all-star judges panel on Wednesday, March 4 at Van Munching Hall. The judging panel included Asher Epstein, COO of Access Health Group; Harry Geller, Entrepreneur in Residence at Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; Liz Sara, CEO of Best Marketing LLC; Mark Walsh, Founder & CEO of Genius Rocket; and Tien Wong, CEO of Opus8, Inc. (pictured below with Elana Fine, Managing Director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship).


Elana Fine, Asher Epstein, Mark Walsh, Harry Geller, Liz Sara and Tien Wong.

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