Tag Archives: startups

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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Smith Centers of Excellence and SERC to Present JOBS Act Panel: “How To Protect The Crowd In Crowdfunding”

It has been three years since Obama’s historic signing of the JOBS Act, which was enacted as a way to help small businesses, the lifeblood of job growth in the U.S., more easily obtain funding by easing securities regulations. Since 2012, the entrepreneurial community has eagerly awaited the SEC’s final guidance on the rules regarding crowdfunding.

It appears that the SEC is close to issuing rules on how the Act will affect equity investments of non-accredited investors in small businesses and startups, particularly through crowdfunding vehicles.

jobs-act-senate-passesOn Friday, May 8, the Smith School’s Center for Financial Policy, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference will host a panel discussion among experts from the academic, regulatory and entrepreneurial communities on how to regulate the industry in a way that protects investors from fraudulent activity while preserving the spirit of the JOBS Act.

The panel will be moderated by Brent Goldfarb, Academic Director at the Dingman Center and Associate Professor.

The panelists will include:

  • Wayne Kimmel, Founder and Managing Partner, Seventy-Six Capital
  • David Lynn, Partner, Morrison & Forester, and former Chief Counsel of the Division of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Ramana Nanda, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University
  • Brian Knight, Associate Director, Financial Policy, Center for Financial Markets, Milken Institute

The panel culminates the annual invitation-only Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference hosted by the University of Maryland, which is attended by faculty from leading academic institutions (e.g., Wharton, Stanford and MIT). Leading researchers and rising stars in entrepreneurship research gather to discuss relevant social, economic and organizational issues around entrepreneurship.

The crowdfunding panel is the only session open to the public. Join us for the event, which will be held in Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall at 3:30 on Friday, May 8. For more event details, please click here.

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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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Get to Know the 2015 Cupid’s Cup Finalists

Last week, Kevin Plank and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship announced the finalists of the 10th Anniversary Cupid’s Cup business competition. The finalists come from top schools across the country including Cornell, Duke, Drexel, Stetson, Virginia Tech, and our own University of Maryland.

After successfully moving through several rounds, these entrepreneurs have proven they have what it takes to compete in the finals on April 22nd at the University of Maryland.

We wanted to learn a little more about the talented founders behind the startups in the final round so we asked them a few questions, like what are they up to when they’re not working on their startsups? And, what was their reaction to being named a Cupid’s Cup finalist by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank? They had some interesting responses!

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Terp Toolkit: Building the Right Entrepreneurial Board

Research by Christine Beckman, Originally published in Research@Smith, Volume 15, No 1

Entrepreneurial boards typically stay actively involved in the growth of a new venture and can be critical to the company’s success. So it is important for startups to know which types of people they should offer board seats to.

boardChristine Beckman, associate professor of management and organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and Academic Director at UMD’s Center for Social Value Creation, looked at the influence of entrepreneurial boards and the makeup that helps startups grow quickly in a paper she co-coauthored for Academy of Management Journal. The authors followed 105 semiconductor firms founded in the United States from 1977 through 1990 to see how well the companies did and how the inaugural board members impacted success.

Continue reading for key findings from Professor Beckman’s study and takeaways to build an effective board for your startup.

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Fearless Founder Scott Block and VentureBoard Team Moving Forward This Summer

By Danielle Bennings

Scott Block has been involved with Dingman Center throughout his college career. His first taste of entrepreneurship was doing web development for Greek Recruits, which was founded by fellow student entrepreneur, Daniel Noskin, in 2010. The pair tackled a live Q&A session together during a Pitch Dingman Competition, but the venture eventually ended. Remaining close friends, the two eventually pursued other startups. Noskin is now the founder of a company called Parallel, and Scott teamed up with Avi Eisenberger and Justin Searles to launch VentureBoard in 2012. VentureBoard began as a platform for students to better find resources on campus. Since then, it has become a fully-functioning online platform that helps students start companies, and universities better track, manage, and advise student startups.

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Worth Reading 3/28/14

Cupid’s Cup, the nation’s toughest business competition, will take place one week from today at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland. Are you ready?

Here’s what is worth reading this week.

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MBA Students Work for MD Startup VisiSonics in Venture Practicum Course

In the second installment of our Venture Practicum series, Dingman Center marketing graduate assistant Grant Lee interviews Salomon Camhi, a second year MBA student focused on marketing strategy. Camhi joined Venture Practicum to experience what startup life is all about.

Grant Lee (GL): What startup will you be working with this semester?
Salomon Camhi (SC): The startup I am working for is VisiSonics. Specifically, I am working for the product, RealSpace 3D Sound. RealSpace creates 3D immersive sound effects that allows users to use headphones enjoying sounds from 360 degree. The traditional sound effect is more flat and comes from 2D, whereas the RealSpace is more complete and exciting.

Grant Lee (GL): Describe your project? What are the deliverables?
Salomon Camhi (SC): My focus in the MBA program is marketing strategy, and this project is all about marketing and new product development. For the project, my MBA team partner, Semret Lemma, and I will be working on the competitor and SWOT analysis. We need to analyze VisiSonics’s own SWOT, create a go to market strategy and find a channel to enter. Other things that we might be tackling include webpage design and product positioning.


Grant Lee (GL): What do you want to take away from this project?
Salomon Camhi (SC): Prior to Smith MBA, I had ten years experience in the sales, but I have never been involved with the strategic planning process. This project serves a good opportunity for me to develop the strategy and actually implement it. Also, this is a real company not just a school project. I will see the impact of my work in real life.

Grant Lee (GL): Have you worked in a startup before? Describe the experience.
Salomon Camhi (SC): Yes, last summer I worked as a marketing and development intern for UberOffices in Virginia. My project was similar but the scale is much bigger this time. Working at a startup is different from a traditional corporate environment. It is less structured and the organization is more flat so communication is faster.

Grant Lee (GL): Describe the working environment. Is your startup located in a co-working space–like an incubator? Or, do they have their own office space?
Salomon Camhi (SC): Visionics belongs to Technology Advancement Program on the UMD campus. It is a cool place. I know two people who currently work there are UMD graduates. It used to be a chemistry lab, but now it is more of a demo-testing center. There is little office space there.

Grant Lee (GL): What skills do you think you can contribute to Visisonics?
Salomon Camhi (SC): Coming from the sales background, I understand the sales process. This specialty allows me to think from a sales’ perspective when creating marketing strategy. I will be able to develop more realistic and actionable strategy for the company to implement. Also, personally I like technology, especially gaming. This will help me to be familiarized with the industry.

Grant Lee (GL): How do you think the project will help you in your career?
Salomon Camhi (SC): This project will give me hands on experience in developing marketing strategy. It also gives me a picture of how a new technology product will be launched into the market.

About Salomon Camhi
Salomon Camhi is a second year full time MBA student at Smith School of Business. He was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He graduated from Purdue University with dual degrees; one in Management with a Minor in Marketing and a the second in Computer Programming Technology. Professionally, he work as a sales representative for two different construction material companies in DC area. Solomon worked for a lumber yard in the DC before beginning his MBA journey.

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Grant Lee is a second year full-time MBA student focused on Marketing Strategy at Smith School of Business. Prior to MBA, he had four years of experience in retail marketing and advertising in Taiwan. During first year, he differentiated himself by participating in three business plan competitions and won top five in Wake Forest Retail Innovation Challenge. Now in his second year, he is dedicated to learning more about entrepreneurship by working as a Marketing Graduate Assistant for the Dingman Center, where he enjoys every moment of it. Grant shares his perspectives in his personal website mrgrantlee.com 

About VisiSonics
VisiSonics’ was spun out of the department of computer science at UMD, and is led by the original scientific team working with experienced entrepreneurs. The technology, based on a deep understanding of how the human brain perceives 3D sound, allows creation of immersive sound over any headphones with pinpoint precision. This allows stunning virtual realism in gaming, movies and music. VisiSonics hardware also can capture and stream sound at live events with precision, creating a “best seat in the house”  experience.Visisonics Logo

Follow the Dingman Center blog for updates on the other students and startups participating in Venture Practicum.

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Worth Reading 11/8/13


Global Entrepreneurship Week is coming up and we have a full lineup of events planned. We’ll be highlighting the events on Twitter and our new Instagram account! Be sure to folow us for behind the scenes picutres. Instagram: dingmancenter

Now, here’s what’s worth reading.

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Dingman Center Angels Named Top 5 Most Active Groups in the Country

The Dingman Center Angels has experienced its most active investment season to date with more than $3M in invested capital in 18 deals. Adding to an impressive year, the Angel Resource Institute’s Halo Report named the Dingman Center Angels among the top five most active angel groups in the country.

Joel Marquis (@jymarq), Assistant Director of Venture Programs, leads the Dingman Center Angels and has watched the group thrive over the past year. “What sets our group apart is not only that we funded new companies but also provided follow up funding to a number of existing portfolio companies which are experiencing significant growth,” said Marquis.

He is pleased that the Dingman Center Angels are recognized as one of the most active groups in the country and hopes to continue to make new investments and support existing portfolio of companies in the next 12 months.

Read here to see highlights of the full report and the list of the most active angel groups for Q2 2013. For more information on presenting to the group or joining as an investor, visit the Dingman Center Angels website.

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