Tag Archives: pitch dingman

Dingman EIR Disrupts the Real Estate Industry with Latest Venture, iUnit

 

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UPDATE – Recently, we caught up with Brice to get a few updates on iUnit. Within the next few weeks, iUnit will deliver to tenants the first project and MVP. This video gives the viewer a glimpse into the construction process and community amenities. In additional news, iUnit is expanding its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the world’s largest research centers focused on energy efficiency. The iUnit prototype will be housed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility where it will be used in testing everything from materials used to build the iUnit to energy efficient mechanical systems like iUnits battery and software systems.

It’s an exciting time for Brice and his team. To put a finer point on the company’s progress, Brice commented “iUnit is essentially the electric car of housing.”


February 4, 2015 – Envision the Prius of apartment buildings: wired with the latest “smart” technology, environmentally friendly, affordable, cool. That’s exactly what lifelong entrepreneur Brice Leconte delivers in his latest venture, iUnit.

Brice is one of the Dingman Center’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs-In-Residence), who help UMD students realize their entrepreneurial ideas during the Dingman Center’s weekly Dingman Fridays sessions. A long-time entrepreneur, Brice has a passion for disrupting industries and building socially active companies. He has started and invested in a wide range of businesses, from real estate development, to bricks and mortar, to e-commerce and tech startups. Today, he is focused on disrupting the real estate industry with his latest brand, iUnit.

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Terp Toolkit: Marketing Your Startup

Startup marketing can involve a variety of different activities, from the creation of promotional materials to Search Engine Optimization. Given limited time and resources, particularly among student entrepreneurs, it can be overwhelming to think about where to start.

Your marketing focus will depend upon the nature of your business and your target customer. For a fairly comprehensive list of marketing tools and resources, for everything from Advertising to Analytics, check out The Essential List of Start-up Marketing Resources.

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Mark Your Calendar: Spring is Full of Entrepreneurship Events for Terps

It’s officially spring, and with that comes many exciting entrepreneurship events for the Terp community. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss!

Apunnamedril 8 & June 11: Dingman Center Angels Pitch Sessions

The final two investor pitch sessions will be held for the Dingman Center Angels. Members will gather to hear pitches from promising regional startups. Click here for more information.

April 10 & 17: Pitch Dingman hops on the TerpRide bus.

In celebration of UMD’s 3rd Annual 30 Days of Entrepreneurship, the Dingman Center EIRs will be on the TerpRide bus on these two dates to provide startup feedback to Terps. The bus will be parked outside the Stamp Student Union. Terps can pitch their business ideas on the bus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

April 22: 10th Anniversary Cupid’s Cup Competition

Join Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and an all-star panel of judges as six student entrepreneur finalists compete for more than $115K in cash prizes in one of the world’s toughest business competitions. RSVP today, space is limited and the event will sell out!

3:30-5:30 p.m. Startup Showcase
6 p.m. Final Competition
Register at www.cupidscup.umd.edu

cupidscupMay 6: Inaugural Rudy Awards presented by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship  

Guests will be invited to join the Center for its inaugural awards celebration where honors will be given to a Student Entrepreneur of the Year; Mentor of the Year; Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year; a Faculty Award and more. Invitations will be distributed in the upcoming weeks.

May 7-9​: Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

The Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Management and Organization Department will host the 11th Annual Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference (SERC) in Van Munching Hall. The conference is a gathering of PhD students and professors who perform research on the topic of entrepreneurship. It’s an opportunity for researchers across the world to exchange ideas about their work. Click here for more information.

DCE logoMay 21: UMD Commencement Ceremony

The Dingman Center will see many Fearless Founders, MBAs and other student entrepreneurs walk across the graduation stage. For details, please visit ww.rhsmith.umd.edu/commencement/.

May 23-31: AdVENTURE Challenge: China

The Dingman Center will travel to China for the 9th Annual China Business Model Competition. This year’s delegation includes MBA students from the Smith School and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Check out more details here.

china
Be sure to visit the Dingman Center’s website for information on additional events and student resources.

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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).

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

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Finalists Announced for Spring Pitch Dingman Competition: RSVP Today

CaptureOn March 4th, five Terp start-ups will compete for $3,500 in funding at the semi-annual Pitch Dingman Competition, which will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall. The finalists will each have 6 minutes to pitch their business before the UMD community.

An all-star panel of judges will select the most promising companies to walk away with the cash prizes.  The audience will also have the chance to text-to-vote for their favorite company and award them the $500 Audience Choice Award. Make sure you register to attend and bring a friend to cast your votes at the competition!

Meet the finalists:

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Welcome back, Terps!

We hope everyone had a happy holiday season and is refreshed for a productive spring semester at Van Munching Hall.

The Dingman Center is hosting many exciting entrepreneurship events and programs this spring. Here are a few you don’t want to miss!

The 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup

cupidscupAn impressive 197 applications were submitted from 93 universities around the globe for the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup competition, chaired by Under Armour CEO and Terp alumnus, Kevin Plank.

The applications — which hailed from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Greece, Nigeria, and beyond — are now undergoing the initial review process. Judges will select 12 applicants to advance to the semifinals on March 12. Watch out for that announcement in mid-February. And, be sure to save the date for the showcase and final competition on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

For more information please visit the Cupid’s Cup website.

The Pitch Dingman Competition

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For all those student entrepreneurs out there, are you ready to take your startup to the next level? Consider applying for the spring Pitch Dingman Competition to be held March 4, 2015, from 6-7:30pm at in Tyser Auditorium in Van Munching Hall. Five finalists will pitch to a panel of all-star judges including regional entrepreneurs and members of the Smith School community, as they compete for $3,500 in start-up funding.

The application deadline is Monday, February 16 at 10 a.m. Click here for more information and eligibility requirements.

Pitch Dingman Sessions are Back!

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Beginning Friday, Jan. 30, Pitch Dingman sessions will continue every Friday for the remainder of the semester. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to attend a walk-in sessions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to get feedback on their business ideas. In addition to insights from experienced entrepreneurs, participants will leave Pitch Dingman with actionable next steps. Students interested in competing in the March 4 Pitch Dingman Competition must attend at least one walk-in session.

Questions? Email pitchdingman@rhsmith.umd.edu or visit the website.

 

To hear about additional events, programs and news, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn and continue reading this blog.

 

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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.

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Dingman Center Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014

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Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. For one week every November, organizations around the world participate in Global Entrepreneurship Week with events and programs that celebrate entrepreneurship. After a successful GEW 2013, the Dingman Center is back at it, November 17-21, for a week-long celebration of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Here’s what he have planned for this year.

Monday, November 17

Smith IS Global
All Day, Grand Atrium, Van Munching Hall

Nov. 17-21 is also International Education Week. Wear your “Ask Me About My Global Connections” sticker and share your study abroad experience, research, language, family story, etc. from around the world. Check the Smith kiosk for daily events or stop by Smith’s Office of Global Initiatives for a schedule.

Tuesday, November 18

Global Experience By Design
6-8:30 p.m., 6137 McKeldin Library

Where do entrepreneurial and innovative ideas come from?  Using Design Thinking is a great place to start!  Come to this hands-on workshop ready to work with a team on the pre-seeded design challenge Global Experience by Design in order to learn about design thinking. Leave ready to apply this process to a problem you are passionate about solving. This event is co-sponsored by the Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship Connector Club.

To participate, RSVP at globalbydesign.eventbrite.com 

Wednesday, November 19

Silk Road Rediscovered With Prof. Anil Gupta Silk Road Rediscovered - Anil Gupta - page 5
Noon-1 p.m., 2505 Van Munching Hall

Join the Smith School’s MBA Entrepreneurship Club and Professor Anil Gupta for an intimate conversation about his latest book, The Silk Road Rediscovered, the first book ever to provide a roadmap to understanding corporate linkages between China and India. Over lunch, Professor Gupta will discuss the growing challenges and opportunities to doing business in China and India. Attendees will also learn how leading innovative companies are pioneering the path between these emerging economic giants, followed by a Q&A.

RSVP at ter.ps/EClubNov19

Thursday, November 20

Terp Marketplace
3:30-5:30 p.m., Grand Atrium, Van Munching Hall

Shop the latest products and services from your fellow Terps while helping student entrepreneurs test the market.

Pitch Dingman Competition
6-7:30 p.m., Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall

Five student entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges for $3,500 in prizes. As the signature event of the week-long celebration, all attendees will receive a free gift sponsored by Route One Apparel
Register at ter.ps/Nov20

Pitch Dingman Competition Judges Panel:

  • John Gambaccini, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
  • Ashish Gambhir, founder, newBrandAnalytics
  • David Quattrone, Chief Technology Officer, Cvent
  • Kathryn Stewart, Managing Director, Cranbrook Capital

Friday, November 21

Innovation Fridays: Pitch Dingman
11 a.m.-1 p.m., 2518 Van Munching Hall

Have an idea for a business? Entrepreneurs in Residence are available to hear and offer feedback on new business ideas. No appointment needed; just come ready to talk about your business idea and receive actionable next steps.

MBA Venture Capital Investment Competition: Final Round @Smith
1:30-5:00 p.m., Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall

Watch MBA teams negotiate term sheets with local startups in this annual mock venture capital competition. Negotiations will take place from 1:30- 4:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony and reception at 5:00 p.m. The winning team will represent UMD at the regional finals, to be held at Georgetown University on January 30, 2015.

For more about the competition, visit vcic.org.

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Dingman enTERPreneur Launches Mega Kickstarter Campaign

Obidi Maryland in manhattan

Obidi Orakwusi, Founder of Gym Supreme

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs whose businesses began on the backs of napkins. But how about the back of a job application?

For one Dingman enTERPreneur, what began as a sketch for an at-home, all-in-one fitness device on the back of a gym job application, has turned into a fully operational business. Today, Gym Supreme’s founder and Dingman enTERPreneur Academy graduate, Obidi Orakwusi, has a patented at-home gym device, Mega Bar, and is launching the company’s first kickstarter campaign.

In 2013, the Dingman Center blog caught up with Obidi. To learn about the genesis of his idea, check out that post here.

Since we’ve been uber-focused on the lean launchpad methodology and customer discovery around the Dingman Center lately, we asked Obidi to share some of those insights from his startup journey.

When Obidi initially gained the idea for Mega Bar, he was confident that it would sell. Mega Bar was not the first at-home gym on the market, but Obidi noticed that what was available at an affordable price point was not the best quality.  This validated his hypothesis and he saw an opportunity.

What was your path like toward customer discovery?

I did things a bit backwards. I did much of my customer discovery after the prototype had been developed. I walked around campus and stood outside of Eppley Recreation Center with a clipboard to take notes from discussions with potential customers, who were undergrad students ages 18-22. Through those interviews I found that although my product was an improvement from a quality and design standpoint — think the Nokia compared to an iPhone — it was too expensive for the demographic on campus. The needs matched but the price didn’t. From there, I segmented the target market and shifted focus to a more of a working class, young professional crowd that had money but limited time. Within this space I found my target customer and learned what I was really solving for them: saving people time. This customer spends a majority of his/her time at work, leaving minimal time — sometimes just a few hours at home or outside of the office. With that limited time, people may not always feel like working out, but Mega Bar can help.

What was the biggest challenge in developing and commercializing a new product?

From my experience, the biggest challenges in creating a new product and commercializing it, are marketing and pricing. Pricing will narrow your target market and really affects revenues. For example, if you try to force the price to fit a cheaper audience, you might be faced with a situation where your margins are just too low to keep the company growing. Once you have a set price, the hardest thing is figuring out how to reach the market with the highest willingness to pay when you have no budget for marketing, because marketing has to be continuous for it to be effective.

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How did you navigate the patent approval process?

Getting a patent so early on was a great boost of confidence, and the fact that it arrived at the door on my birthday last year was unbelievable. I knew how important it was to have a patent in the pipeline, but I didn’t have the resources to pay excessive legal fees, so I had to learn it all. I read all the rules very carefully, read articles, and called the USPTO anytime I had a question. With all the knowledge I gained, I was able to submit the patent application and receive the approval to grant the patent within nine months of applying, which is extremely rare. I applied for my second patent last summer.

Have you tried any unique marketing campaigns?

I’ve tested three different marketing strategies. The first two were great strategies, but they wouldn’t work with the minimal resources the company had to work with.

The first was a social media campaign. The second involved attempts to have influencers in the fitness industry promote the company, and then the 3rd strategy was to get a booth at a fitness convention. The social media strategy was put on hold because it felt like the posts were getting nowhere without paying for ads; it was taking too long. The fitness influencers marketing strategy didn’t work because we couldn’t afford to send in free gear so early on or pay them to promote to their fan base. I also tried to get the Mega Bar featured in major fitness publications, but the cold emails felt like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean of emails that those publications received everyday.

The entire time, I was trying to figure out a way to reach an audience that would also see the value in the product, but I realized that I had been searching for the marketing middleman that would help us reach the potential consumer, when I should have actually been the one reaching directly to the early adopters because middlemen are always more costly. I had to find a way to reach directly to consumers that would understand the value of the product just by seeing a 30 second video of what the product can do without further explanation, so I decided to get the company’s first booth at a personal training convention to gain exposure for the Mega Bar. That turned out to be the most effective strategy based on time and the little resources the company had.

What resources have you found to be most valuable to you as an entrepreneur?

The most valuable resources found throughout my journey, thanks to the Dingman Center, are the entrepreneurship classes. It started with the Entrepreneur Academy that eventually evolved to Fearless Founders. From that class, I learned so much about how to understand your target customer. Everything about the Dingman Center has been a great resource for me along the journey. From winning the first funding ever for the company, which went toward the issue fee for the first patent, to being able to talk to other successful entrepreneurs to get feedback. It’s all been a source of encouragement to keep progressing.

At the Dingman Center, I attended Pitch Dingman on Fridays where I could talk about creative ideas and strategies freely without being looked at like a crazy person because I was so young. You run into a lot of doubters when you first start your idea because no one believes you, but at Dingman, they believe you and are always there to help you succeed even if you are trying to turn water into wine. I had the chance to go on a trip to New York this past spring to show off the cool ideas that are coming out of UMD to Terps who now live in Manhattan. That would have never happened if the Dingman Center didn’t hook us up with a booth at Cupid’s Cup earlier this year where I connected with the UMD Alumni Association.

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University of Maryland President Wallace Loh with the Mega Bar

What advice do you have for student entrepreneurs? 

The biggest advice I would have for student entrepreneurs is to be confident, but don’t think you already know everything about your idea on day one. Be confident about your idea, but don’t be arrogant because it is just an idea until you can start selling it or acquiring users. You will need help to keep your idea progressing, but watch out for anyone who starts wasting your time because you can not replace time. Learn from the good things that happen along the journey, and also learn from the bad. Every experience will help you understand what to do the next time.

What’s one of the biggest lessons learned in starting Gym Supreme?

I’ve learned so much through building a product and launching a brand to push the product, but the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you should always test out your theories, never rush into decisions. Starting a company with no money after product development will force you to find new solutions to overcome marketing barriers.

You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign. What do you hope to achieve through Kickstarter?

My main goal with the Kickstarter campaign is to launch the first sales of the Mega Bar and to introduce Gym Supreme’s story to the world. The goal is to raise $12,000 through sales so that the company can finally generate revenue.

Do you have any bootstrapping tips for our readers?

Start saving your money now! Before senior year, I had a work-study job on campus and saved every paycheck. By the time graduation rolled around, I had enough money to develop a prototype.

Never jump into decisions without thinking twice about it. When you receive that first offer, don’t just take it. Be cautious of investors who are just opportunistic and don’t genuinely believe in your product.

Also, be resourceful. For example, I taught myself to code, which saved a lot of expense and was something I could figure out through studying.

What’s your long-term vision for Gym Supreme?

The long term goal for Gym Supreme is to become a fitness lifestyle brand that creates excellent products, which help us all stay consistent with our health goals. I want this company to help anyone that has a desire to Lift Good, Live good, and Look Good®.  Gym Supreme Logo

To learn more about Gym Supreme and to place your order for the Mega Bar, visit their Kickstarter Page to support the $12,000 goal.

And, be sure to connect with Gym Supreme on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/GymSupreme
https://www.youtube.com/GymSupreme
https://twitter.com/GymSupreme
http://instagram.com/gymsupreme

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Fearless Founder Brings Taste of the Islands to the DMV

Meet Tenaj Ferguson, Fearless Founder and CEO of Lady Epicure Gourmet.

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While attending the University of Maryland, Tenaj turned her passion for health, nutrition and her Bahamian culture into a thriving business. Today, Lady Epicure Gourmet brings a taste of the Bahama islands to their customers through their all-natural gourmet popsicle line.

We recently caught up with Tenaj to learn more about her journey and her tips for future fearless founders.

Bringing the islands to Maryland. Continue reading

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