Tag Archives: startup

Introducing the Pitch Dingman Competition Finalists

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Bootstrapped Season 2 Opens with Social Venture MISFIT Juicery

From their dorm room at Georgetown University to the exclusive Chobani Food Incubator in New York City, the co-founders of MISFIT Juicery, Ann Yang and Phil Wong, are growing their food startup into a recognizable brand with a mission. MISFIT fights food waste by using discarded “ugly” fruits and vegetables to make their attractive and delicious line of cold-pressed juices.

To close out our Ladies First launch, co-hosts Elana Fine and Joe Bailey interviewed female founder Ann Yang and her co-founder Phil Wong about their journey as rising social entrepreneurs on the second season premiere of our Bootstrapped podcast. Listen below and subscribe on iTunes.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Should an Entrepreneur Move to Silicon Valley?

by: David Potter, Co-Founder and CEO of Curu

Silicon Valley is constantly regarded as the ‘Innovation hub of the world’. With so many companies and successful startups headquartered in the area…. and even a TV show, it has become challenging to find someone who is oblivious to the reputation that Silicon Valley holds. For an entrepreneur, Silicon Valley could seem as New York did for immigrants—the land of opportunity. Due to the talent, funding, market reach and a history of performance, Silicon Valley to me seemed like a wonderland. This led me to believe the area was either over-glorified or truly the land of an innovator’s dream. This summer, I flew down there with my team to spend a month exploring the true environment of Silicon Valley.

CuruNew.pngI am David Potter, a junior Finance & Marketing student at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and the CEO of Curu. Curu is an app that maximizes the user’s credit score with minimal effort on their end. This summer Curu was enrolled in the Dingman Center’s Terp Startup Accelerator where we received funding, mentorship, workspace and amazing support from a strong entrepreneurial network. Through Terp Startup we addressed critical areas of business development and set a stage for us to reach our market with a strong product. Following Terp Startup’s Demo Day, our team had our flights booked for the bay area with a mission to execute on Curu’s development to product launch.

In the land of entrepreneurial opportunity, it was hard to ignore that everything was so expensive. We lived in an Airbnb for the month (which was an RV) for $1,700. This was the cheapest deal we could find for our desired location in Redwood City, and considering prices for housing passed $5,000 we got a pretty good deal (although I think our bank accounts would disagree). Oh, and the 9% state tax didn’t help. We utilized the library and coffee shops as our primary workspace, free gym trials for working out and walked to the majority of our destinations. Thankfully our Airbnb was just a 10-minute walk from downtown, but all this goes to say, the area is expensive and planning ahead for travel, rent, food and a workspace is a necessity if you want to give all your focus to your entrepreneurial goals.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Stewart Fellow Interns at an Innovative Healthcare Startup

This summer, several undergraduate students have been interning at startups through the Kathryn Stewart Fellowship program. Undergraduate Stewart fellows are awarded a $3,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.

Erich Meissner – LiftOff Health

Tell us about LiftOff Health. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?LiftoffHealth

LiftOff Health is accelerating healthcare innovation in all areas, whether it be HIPAA-compliant instant messaging services or a nanoscale glucose monitor. LiftOff Health has valued connections with the public sector as it is located right outside DC in Crystal City. Our most immense industry by GDP makeup, the healthcare industry, is also the most highly regulated. Things like FDA approvals for medical devices can easily take over a year, and for a startup, that timeline is dangerous. LiftOff Health leverages our proximity to over 200 foreign embassies and international organizations to expedite the process. Startups can find success abroad and monetize their product-to-market fit faster in other countries. We seek to help healthcare executives achieve 10x equity value for their businesses, a principle that mimics Peter Thiel’s first rule for creating a great business: Build Proprietary Technology That Is 10x Better.

Tell us about your responsibilities thus far at LiftOff Health?

LiftOff Health is putting on a series of healthcare hackathons at dozens of colleges and universities. Our lineup so far is global, with hackathons planned in Belarus, Venezuela and local schools like George Washington University and James Madison University. My responsibilities thus far have been around these hackathons. Participants need a place to upload their hacks, and although Devpost and Github are excellent solutions for demos, we want students to come together and popularize our LiftOff platform. I am currently working on the web functionality to host all these hackers. Also, just like with Bitcamp at UMD, we need to have hardware labs ready and enough 3D printers for the events. The most exciting part of this hackathon series is that it is healthcare focused; we will invite speakers to talk about the biggest challenges facing healthcare today. The industry accounts for almost 20% of US-GDP yet the World Health Organization ranks our healthcare as 37th overall in patient outcomes—it definitely needs some innovation.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Hisaoka Fellow Interns at a Startup that Helps Make Higher Education Affordable

This summer, several Smith MBA students have been interning at startups through the Hisaoka Fellowship program. Hisaoka fellows are awarded a $5,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.

Ashish Agarwal – MPower Financing

Tell us about MPOWER Financing. What is the company’s mission and core MPowerFinancingcompetencies?

MPOWER’s mission is to remove financial barriers to higher education in the U.S. To accomplish this mission, MPOWER works with investors and universities to lend to high-potential students who are left out by traditional banks. In addition to providing students with access to the financial resources necessary to attend and complete college, MPOWER builds students’ credit histories, provides them with personal finance education, and offers gateway financial products to prepare them for life after college.

Tell us about your responsibilities thus far at MPOWER Financing?

My responsibilities at MPOWER included:

  • Understanding MPOWER’s product inside and out
  • Managing key operations processes and critically thinking about opportunities for improvements
  • Drawing insights based on our data sets to promote efficiency and influence decisions for the MPOWER team

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Stewart Fellow Interns at a Medical Supply Startup

This summer, several undergraduate students have been interning at startups through the Kathryn Stewart Fellowship program. Undergraduate Stewart fellows are awarded a $3,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.

Emily Turner – Hybrent Inc.

Tell us about Hybrent Inc. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?Hybrent_Blue_Logo-tagline-1

Hybrent is a medical supply chain company.  The core competency of the company is to evolve the supply chain process to be more efficient and cost cutting.

Our mission is to develop technology that improves the clinical and operational efficiency of healthcare facilities. Hybrent products and services are dedicated to solving real problems in the healthcare supply chain by providing groundbreaking technology, business intelligence and visibility beyond the limits of current enterprise systems. We help procurement managers make better decisions when running their healthcare organizations.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Hisaoka Fellow Interns at Smith Alum Startup Rybbon

This summer, several Smith MBA students have been interning at startups through the Hisaoka Fellowship program. Hisaoka fellows are awarded a $5,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.

Jennifer Hwang – Rybbon

Tell us about Rybbon. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?

Rybbon delivers egift cards for businesses to prospects and customers, and for market researchers to survey respondents. Rybbon’s integration with Marketo, Hubspot, and SurveyMonkey enables Rybbon users to automate gifting. Users can also send gifts directly through Rybbon’s platform. What sets company apart is that Rybbon lets its users own the gifting experience. Users can customize the gift email and the landing page, and the gift email arrives from the user’s own email address. Recipients can easily see who the email is from (not a third party) and appreciates the gift. This helps the sender increase engagement with the recipient.

Of course other gift delivery services exist, but users lose the opportunity to create engagement with their customers when a third party delivers the gifts. The first time I met the CEO of Rybbon, Jignesh Shah, he explained it to me this way and it stuck with me: It’s like buying a ring and sending the jeweler to propose to your fiancé!

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Looking Out for the Little Guy: How TapTime TV Helps Small Businesses Grow

by: Megan McPherson

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the eight student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. Participating student entrepreneurs received $3,500 stipends that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over six weeks in the summer.

The plight of the American small business owner is an issue so ubiquitous, it can be easy to take for granted. Even if the product is excellent, a business can easily fail if customers don’t have a strong identification with their brand. Against the immense advertising budget of a competing corporate Goliath, small business owners attempting to promote their business are armed with a futile collection of advertising options that feel cripplingly expensive as well as ineffective. But now small business owners can rejoice knowing they have a new champion fighting on their behalf, a veritable David with a slingshot: founder Dustin Ecton and his startup, TapTime TV, a fully customizable entertainment channel installed on televisions in bars and restaurants that doubles as a platform for local advertising.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Nonich: Socially Conscious Street Couture with Swagger

by: Megan McPherson

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the eight student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. Participating student entrepreneurs received $3,500 stipends that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over six weeks in the summer.

High-fashion is typically associated with wealth, luxury and lavish excess. Nonich, a high-fashion brand out of University of Maryland, is working to change that narrative with their socially conscious line of street couture fashion apparel. The brand’s three founders, Damar Bess, Rodrick Campbell and Henry Blanco, come from a diverse cultural background that informs their clothing aesthetic as well as their vision.

Nonich-22Jun16-9

The Nonich House family: Khiry Oviim, Rodrick Campbell (Director of Photography), Damar Bess (Lead Designer), Henry Blanco (Creative Director), and Damian Bess

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Celebrate Ethiopian Culture with East Habesha

by: Megan McPherson

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the eight student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. Participating student entrepreneurs received $3,500 stipends that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over six weeks in the summer.

Washington D.C. contains the second largest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia, with a community of over 250,000 people. Little Ethiopia is peppered with restaurants and shops that sell imported goods, but clothes are few and far between. Saron Asfaw, an Ethiopian-American and rising junior at University of Maryland, discovered the niche for her online Ethiopian clothing store East Habesha while on the hunt for a dress to wear to a party that required traditional Ethiopian attire. In the end, she missed the party but gained valuable insight into the market potential for what would eventually become East Habesha.

Saron

Founder, Saron Asfaw, wearing East Habesha

Inspired by her promising business idea, Saron enlisted the help of her mother, Etsegenet
Gebre, who owns several stores in Ethiopia that sell imported goods from Dubai and America. Since her mother often travels back to Ethiopia to manage her businesses, it was easy for her to bring back some traditional dresses to help her daughter test the market. Word of mouth began to spread, and before too long they started looking into forming direct connections with manufacturers in Ethiopia who could produce customized dresses in whatever style, fabric or size they needed. With an infrastructure in place, Saron built their website and orders started coming in.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,