Tag Archives: University of Maryland

Steve Case is Coming to UMD for the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series on Oct. 9

Steve Case will be speaking at the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series on Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. in The Clarice’s Gildenhorn Recital Hall. Click here to register.

Steve CaseSteve Case is one of America’s best-known and most accomplished entrepreneurs, and a pioneer in making the Internet part of everyday life. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future.

As Chairman and CEO of Revolution LLC, a Washington, D.C.- based investment firm he co-founded in 2005, Steve partners with visionary entrepreneurs to build significant ‘built to last’ businesses. Revolution invests in and actively helps build companies leveraging technology to disrupt existing markets. This includes both early and mid-stage growth companies through both the Revolution Growth fund, created in 2011, and the Revolution Ventures fund, launched in 2013. Revolution has backed more than 30 companies, including: sweet green,ZipcarRevolution FoodsDraftKingsUptake and Framebridge.

In 2014, Steve and Revolution launched the Rise of the Rest, a platform to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs that are starting and scaling businesses outside of Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston. Steve frequently tours the country by bus to meet with civic leaders, founders, investors and local corporate executives to champion citywide efforts to jumpstart entrepreneurship. As part of the initiative, Steve announced The Rise of the Rest Seed fund in December 2017.

Steve Case Technical.ly

Steve Case in Detroit during a Rise of the Rest Tour

Steve’s entrepreneurial career began in 1985 when he co-founded America Online (AOL). Under Steve’s leadership, AOL became the world’s largest and most valuable Internet company, driving the worldwide adoption of a medium that has transformed business and society. AOL was the first Internet company to go public and the best performing stock of the 1990s. At its peak, nearly half of Internet users in the United States used AOL. In 2000, Steve negotiated the largest merger in business history, bringing together AOL and Time Warner in a transaction that gave AOL shareholders a majority stake in the combined company. To facilitate the merger, Steve agreed to step down as CEO when the merger closed.

Steve Case American inno

Steve Case with President Obama

Steve’s passion for helping entrepreneurs remains his driving force. In 2011, he was the founding chair of the Startup America Partnership— an effort launched at the White House to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. Steve also was the founding co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and a member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, where he chaired the subcommittee on entrepreneurship.

Steve has been a leading voice in shaping government policy on issues related to entrepreneurship, working across the aisle to advance public policies that expand access to capital and talent. He was instrumental in passing the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, and is active in advocating on behalf of immigration reform and legislation that supports and accelerates the emergence of startup ecosystems in rising cities.

Steve is also Chairman of the Case Foundation, which he established with his wife Jean in 1997. Together the Cases have invested in hundreds of organizations, initiatives and partnerships with a focus on leveraging the Internet and entrepreneurial approaches to strengthen the social sector. In 2010, Steve and Jean joined The Giving Pledge and publicly reaffirmed their commitment to give away the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

External image sources:
Rise of the Rest: https://technical.ly/philly/2015/08/04/steve-case-philadelphia-rise-of-the-rest/
Steve Case and President Obama: https://www.americaninno.com/dc/steve-case-wants-congress-to-seize-the-moment-and-act/

Tagged , , , ,

Learning the Importance of Questions in Ecuador

This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America. Learn more about MSEC here.

by: Adam Sarsony

It seems unnecessary to say that asking a question is how you get answers, but this was a very important lesson for me to learn here in Ecuador. I am now finishing my last week here in Ñamarin, a rural community of approximately 100 families in the mountains of Ecuador. Coming in here, we had barely any idea what life would be like.

Even after living here for the past 3 weeks, I find that there’s no point in making assumptions about the community without asking the people living here whether or not they’re true. The number of times that my assumptions about people have been proven wrong are too many to count.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

What’s New with Kanvasroom Co-Founder Aaron Pludwinski

by: Megan McPherson


This past November, Fearless Founder alumni Aaron Pludwinski ’16 and his co-founder Derien Scott ’17 launched Kanvasroom, a cloud-based communication tool that’s optimized for digital media creatives. The idea for Kanvasroom took shape three years ago while the founders were exploring their own creative pursuits—Aaron in video post-production and Derien in music production—and realized a niche for a website where creatives from around the world could come together and collaborate on projects. Rather than looking to replace existing tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, Skype, Paypal or Basecamp, they envisioned a website where many of the most basic needs these applications provide could exist in one space. The result would maximize efficiency and improve communication, leaving more time and energy for content creation. Eager to act on their idea, they joined the Spring 2015 cohort of Idea Shell, ultimately moving through Fearless Founders on to Hatch in Spring 2016 until Aaron graduated and moved back to his hometown of Miami.

Aaron & Derien.jpg

Kanvasroom’s co-founders: Derien Scott and Aaron Pludwinski

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.


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 , , , ,

UMD Startup Launches Indiegogo Campaign

It has been two weeks since the last time I sat down with student entrepreneur Brooks Gabel and talk about his startup justlikeyou.org. We discussed his journey starting a nonprofit social networking platform as a student to now having a team of more than 20. This time, we discussed his upcoming Indiegogo campaign that will launch this Saturday, February 1.

Danielle Bennings (DB): Hi Brooks, welcome back! I’m glad we get to sit down and talk again.
Brooks Gabel (BG): Hi, thanks for having me back.

DB: So, when does your Indiegogo campaign launch?
BG: Our Indiegogo campaign is launching February 1 which is this Saturday!

DB: Kickstarter has become popular among startups and many campaigns hosted on the platform have been successful. The example we talk about a lot at the Dingman Center is another UMD student, Chase Kaczmarek, who raised a over $30K on Kickstarter for his startup Wheel Shields. Why did you choose Indiegogo?
BG: We had to look at many different online fundraising platforms. One drawback of Kickstarter is when you have a company with a social networking component you’re actually not allowed to fund raise there. So, we started looking at other options and Indiegogo kept popping up. They’re more cause related. As a nonprofit organization with tax exemption status you can get even better deals on the percentages you have to pay, so Indiegogo seemed like a good fit for us. The justlikeyou team has been divided into five groups. We have a business development sector, a volunteer and training experience team, a marketing team, a legal and insurance team and the Indiegogo team.

DB: Do you call them staff or team members? And how many do you have?photo (4)
BG: We call them team members and there are 21 total.

DB: Wow. Are they all based in Maryland?
BG: They are not. We have 16 from the United States and five international. We all operate remotely and everything is done through Skype and conference calls. Working in different time zones is definitely a challenge but everyone has been great about it.

DB: Do you remember any Indiegogo campaigns that stood out to you and served as inspiration?
BG: We looked at who was fully funded, the kind of messages they were sending, how long it was, and what they were communicating through the video versus in the description. You want a video that entices people to get involved. The people that are really interested in your mission, are going to read more.

DB: So it sounds like you did a significant amount of research which I think is really impressive.
BG: Yea, we made sure to look at campaigns that were similar to what we’re trying to do and mimic their success from creating perks that made sense to our constituency to creating content that is able to be read by anyone.

DB: I’m really interested in hearing about the video. How did you come up with the concept and how did you create it? I saw you recording it here in the Dingman Center. 1555465_340630939407921_1269829022_n
BG: We created the video in partnership with another UMD student, Jeff Hilnbrand. He’s done some freelance projects for other units within the business school — I know he did some work for the Center for Social Value Creation and a lot of other freelance work around campus. I was actually introduced to him by you, so its great that we were able to connect. We did our first shoot a few weeks ago here at the Dingman Center. I felt that since this is where we spend the most of our time it was an important place for us to shoot. People will be able to see the video for the first time this Saturday.

DB: What do you hope people take away from the video?
BG: I want people to get a full understanding of what it means to be a social network for people coming out. That really is the only thing that we have put out there – we are the social networking platform for people going through the coming out process. Defining that through the video is going to help people to relate to their own experience or the experience of a sibling, a friend, or maybe even a parent whose been through the coming out process, and really see the value in the resource we’re creating. We also want to show a global perspective. This isn’t just coming from two or three students at the University of Maryland who ended up in the Dingman Center together. This is a collaborative effort from people all around the world.

DB: How much money are you raising? Are you willing to reveal that?
BG: Sure, it will be completely visible on the campaign. Our goal is to raise $50K and we’ve structured incentives in order to get us there. Also, the people we’re targeting for the network itself are not going to be the ones donating to our campaign.

DB: So you’re expecting donations from people who believe in what you’re doing but might not be using the site themselves?
BG: Right. With justlikeyou, the top three people that we’re looking at are: the free and anonymous user; the volunteer who wants to give back, and the donor who probably sees this is the resource they, or a loved-one, never had.

DB: Right, many donors may think “I wish my mom or my brother or my best friend could have used this”.
BG: Yes, because it’s personally linked to you in some way.

DB: What are some of the incentives? 2b92662744c5f71d26b9bc5fd884dcd1_g4
BG: We have custom justlikeyou apparel, early site access, and tickets to our red carpet launch party in Washington D.C. in April. We also have ways to sponsor the organization to support a mobile extension.

DB: I’d like to get one of those justlikeyou t-shirts, they look great. Are they available online right now?
BG: Yes, we have to get you one! As soon as the Indiegogo campaign goes live they will be available just on Indiegogo. We did a pre-sale for the month of January where they were all $29.99.

DB: How did that go?
BG: It went well. The biggest takeaway for us was that we needed the shirts beforehand. One of our greatest strengths has been using the team to reach their networks. We have really been able to showcase the team on our social media sites over the last couple months.1002359_347923908678624_1105782082_n

DB: I’ve been noticing that, especially on Facebook.
BG: The use of social media has been growing the network because people like pictures of the team members. One of the latest things that we’re doing is having everyone take selfies of themselves in the shirt. That’s how we highlight our team members from week to week. It has a dual purpose; showing the #LoveisLove shirt and introducing our greatest asset which is our people.

DB: In a perfect world, your Indiegogo campaign launches February 1, it ends April 1, and you reach your $50K goal. What is your next step from there?
BG: Our immediate next step is to make sure that we have our education and training program complete. That’s our priority. The program is fully developed so we’re going to be doing all our trainings in March, but we’re looking to make that a more sustainable model. On the network, minors can only talk to volunteers. Volunteers aren’t people that we employ, but they are trained and in our team member system and we want to make that experience accessible to anyone regardless of if they live in the DMV area or not. Learning how to put the trainings online is definitely a priority for us. Going forward we’re going to need to scale in order for the training to be accessed from anywhere in the world.

DB: If there are people who can’t buy a t-shirt or contribute to your Indiegogo campaign, what are other ways that people can support justlikeyou.org?
BG: The best way is to share the network. You never know who may be looking for this resource. Regardless of whether you can personally identify with it or not, I can guarantee there is someone within your circle that you have no idea is going through this. By supporting the network or sharing a picture of the t-shirt, they’ll know that you’re a great person to come to when they’re ready.

DB: What’s the best way to connect online? Do you want people using #loveislove, like on the t-shirt, or do you want people to mention @justlikeyouorg on Twitter?
BG: I would always go back to the justlikeyou Facebook or Twitter pages. It’s justlikeyou.org for Facebook and @justlikeyouorg for Twitter and Instagram. #loveislove is fine, but we’ll also be coming out with branded hashtags when the Indiegogo campaign launches this Saturday.

DB: We’ll be sure to look out for those when the Indiegogo campaign launches. Thanks so much for sitting down with me again, Brooks.
BG: Thank you, Danielle. We appreciate the support.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Dispatches from Inside the Classroom: Day 8

Best Marketing’s Liz Sara, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship and former Dingman Board member, concluded the Business to Business Marketing course with a tall order for the part-time MBA students: create and present a marketing plan for a real startup. Four company CEOs participated in this project:  Sean Virgil, founder of last year’s Cupid’s Cup finalist company Diagnostic anSERS; Brian Johnson, founder of Divvy Cloud; Jack Reis, founder of ManageUrID; and Payam Fard, founder of Subject-7.  All four CEO’s attended class, listened, probed and commented on the marketing plan presentations.

This type of pitch was a first for many students including Antwan Jefferson. “This was the first time in my education I have had the opportunity to interact with an actual company. Being afforded the opportunity to provide solutions to a CEO is one of the more exciting experiences that I have had,” said Jefferson.

After the final class Sara felt the students took a sip from the fire hose of B2B Marketing. “From hearing more than a dozen CEOs who took the time to present a marketing challenge to class discussion to actually developing a plan for a real company – well it just doesn’t get more experiential than that,” Sara concluded.

Sara-05Aug13-97Liz Sara has 20 years of experience in the local high tech community as an entrepreneur, business leader, angel investor and philanthropist. In 2001, she founded Best Marketing, LLC to provide early stage software companies with strategic marketing, PR and business development services. Her company offers clients all the benefits of a full-scale, seasoned marketing department on a ‘virtual’ basis — eliminating overhead and headcount associated with full-time staff. Previously, she played a principal role as co-founder of SpaceWorks, an eCommerce software company, where she facilitated its startup and growth to nearly $25 million in revenue; at America Online, where she designed the PR program and investor road show for the IPO; at United Press International, where she facilitated a turn-around strategy; and for LEXIS/NEXIS, where she was instrumental in the creation and successful launch of a new division. Ms. Sara holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. She is a member of the Business & Professional Women’s Committee of the Corcoran; the Women’s Committee of National Museum of Women In the Arts; and the Board of the Capital City Ball. In addition, Ms. Sara is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Dispatches from Inside the Classroom: Day 6 & 7

Best Marketing’s Liz Sara continued her Business to Business Marketing class on Monday with a discussion about how to best use events and trade shows in the marketing mix. From high tech to low tech, from small to large, the class got a dose of the best ways to use third-party events. Students also learned that whether on the Internet or on the ground, sometimes it’s best to create your own event. Ryan Healey, founder of Brazen Careerist (a Dingman Center Angels portfolio company) talked about how his company uses industry trade shows and virtual events to generate leads for their offering – a virtual event platform itself. Ran Farmer, a senior managing partner at  boutique econometric consulting firm ARPC, talked about how his company leveraged events in the legal industry to drive business last year.

Tuesday’s class began with a clip from an old “Saturday Night Live” episode that pokes fun at the rock band Bon Jovi for naming the band after its founder. Joking aside, the class was all about branding and what B2B companies should consider when they go through a re-branding. Alex Gordiyenko, co-founder of LightMix Design Studio, showed some examples of what happens when a global B2B company attempts to rebrand in a changing and dynamic marketplace.

“As consumers, we see the end result of a company re-brand, but we don’t know the hoops the marketing and management team jumped through to get there. Last night’s installment of the class focused on the hoops,” Sara explained. Stay tuned for our final dispatch tomorrow.

Sara-05Aug13-97Liz Sara has 20 years of experience in the local high tech community as an entrepreneur, business leader, angel investor and philanthropist. In 2001, she founded Best Marketing, LLC to provide early stage software companies with strategic marketing, PR and business development services. Her company offers clients all the benefits of a full-scale, seasoned marketing department on a ‘virtual’ basis — eliminating overhead and headcount associated with full-time staff. Previously, she played a principal role as co-founder of SpaceWorks, an eCommerce software company, where she facilitated its startup and growth to nearly $25 million in revenue; at America Online, where she designed the PR program and investor road show for the IPO; at United Press International, where she facilitated a turn-around strategy; and for LEXIS/NEXIS, where she was instrumental in the creation and successful launch of a new division. Ms. Sara holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. She is a member of the Business & Professional Women’s Committee of the Corcoran; the Women’s Committee of National Museum of Women In the Arts; and the Board of the Capital City Ball. In addition, Ms. Sara is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

It’s True: College Students Are Taking Risks and Starting Companies

I first met student entrepreneur Brooks Gabel in 2012 when he began coming to the Dingman Center to get feedback on what seemed like a brazen business idea for such a young man. Brooks was taking a big risk and I wondered how he’d accomplish such a mission and bring it to fruition. I know now–through two long years of customer discovery, pivoting, research, passion and just plain hard work. Now a senior at the University of Maryland (UMD), Brooks is the founder of justlikeyou.org, a non-profit organization providing a free and anonymous social network for people 13 years and older going through the coming out process. Through developing online and mobile technology, coordinating LBGTQ competency/suicide prevention training and connecting users from the network to their local communities, justlikeyou.org is working to eliminate the burden of coming out. I recently sat down with Brooks to talk about the history of his company and his plans for the future.


Danielle Bennings (DB): Tell me how and why you started your company?
Brooks Gabel (BG): The company started after my decision to leave UMD’s Division 1 swim team. It was my personal perception that the college community was not accepting of an openly gay athlete. That was the time when I swore to myself that I would do something to create inclusive environments in our schools, on our teams, and in our communities.

DB: How did you first get involved with the Dingman Center?
BG: I started coming to Innovation Fridays to talk to the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. The idea started as a question of whether the personal narrative could guide a discourse around the coming out process. The feedback I got was to test it, so I started the Just Brooks blog and began writing about my personal story. Eventually I invited some of my friends to write about their stories. After a month, emails began flooding in from UMD all the way to Australia from people who could relate to my story. It was at this time that I realized my idea could have huge impact on a global scale.


Members of the justlikeyou.org team

DB: What happened next?
BG: In January 2012, my parents helped me fund the site and we hired a web development company based in Washington D.C. to develop the social network. In the beginning it was just me facing plenty of people that told me no. Since then we’ve developed a custom social network that connects free users with other people going through the coming out process and volunteers who have been through it before. The Just Like You team has gone from being a team of solely myself to a team of 21 people; 16 from the U.S. and five who are international. We all collaborate through Skype and conference calls to deliver on our mission.

DB: Have you made any connections on campus?
BG: We recently brought on a UMD student that you connected me with. He is another entrepreneur working in the Startup Shell who will film a campaign video that addresses our story, the problem we’re solving, the solution we’ve created, the team creating it, and where your donations will go for our Indiegogo campaign.

photo 1

Brooks Gabel, Founder, justlikeyou.org

DB: I know you’re embarking on a crowdfunding effort. Tell me more about your Indiegogo campaign.
BG: Our Indiegogo campaign is a $50K online fundraising campaign to generate awareness about the network and to raise funds to develop technology, coordinate LBGT competence and suicide prevention trainings, and connect users from the network to their local communities. It will launch on February 1, 2013 (my birthday) and will continue until the site launch on April 13, 2014.

DB: That’s great–I’ll check it out. What do you plan to do next?
BG: Unlike my peers, I haven’t gone on a single interview. This will be my job after college. This is what I want to do. I understand that I’m not going into investment banking, but at the same time this is the resource I never had.

photo 2

Brooks Gabel, Founder, justlikeyou.org

DB: What is your ultimate goal for what justlikeyou.org will become?
BG: We see this as being an international operation. We designed it so that the resources aren’t bound by language or location. Everyone’s story is unique so there is a seemingly infinite amount of people who can engage in the discussion and ultimately we would love for people who have come out, for people who have an LGBT sibling or friend or parent, to join the conversation. The social change will happen when we recognize that the story of the ally is just as important as the person who is going through the process.

DB: Brooks, thanks for answering my questions. I hope we’ll continuing seeing you in the spring.
BG: I will continue spending a lot of time here — the Dingman Center bullpen has become my office. I still meet with Dingman Center staff and EIR Harry Geller to field new ideas and update them on my progress.

To connect with Brooks, email him at brooks.gabel@justlikeyou.org. Connect with justlikeyou.org on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the Dingman Center blog for updates on the justlikeyou.org Indiegogo campaign and to read about other student entrepreneurs.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Guest Blog From Former Cupid’s Cup Winner, Goozex

This year marks the 9th annual Cupid’s Cup business competition chaired by Founder & CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank. Plank partnered with the Dingman Center to find the most passionate student entrepreneurs running impactful businesses and in 2013 they took the competition national. Before this Cupid’s Cup was a University of Maryland-only competition and in 2007 the winner was Goozex.com.  Today’s guest blog is from Goozex.com co-founder, Valerio Zanini. Read about his journey with the Dingman Center and where Goozex.com is today. 

When Jon Dugan pitched Goozex.com at a Pitch Dingman event in 2005 he lost the competition. The idea was great, but his business plan needed further exploration and development. Just one year later, Goozex.com was open for business and in a few months had gained thousands of users and won the prestigious IMA Interactive Media Award for best website design. How Jon was able to create a viable business and launch it while still in college is a fascinating story that shows how the Dingman Center can have a huge impact in shaping entrepreneurship in the DC region. goozex-logo

In all senses, Goozex is a Dingman Center success story of teaching the right methodologies to start a company, providing the right support, and trusting entrepreneurs in their vision. Jon Dugan was a senior at the University of Maryland when he pitched the Goozex idea at the Dingman Center. One of the judges who voted against his business plan later invited him back to the Center and offered help in developing a better model for the company.  I was that judge, at the time a second year MBA student and Dingman Scholar helping local entrepreneurs start their businesses. I paired with Jon and together we brainstormed product ideation, refined the business model, and connected with key suppliers.

Within a few months we had a working model of Goozex and a team to launch the business. We partnered with a software development company in Italy to cut down on costs, and brought in another MBA classmate to lead the marketing strategy in preparation for the launch. Mark Nebesky joined the company eager to jump on an entrepreneurial opportunity and excited to be working in the video game industry.

I had come to the US from Italy to obtain an MBA degree at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. I had received offers from other MBA schools around the world but chose UMD for one key reason: the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Smith was the only business school with an in-house entrepreneurship center and a curriculum designed to foster entrepreneurship among the student body, and support new entrepreneurs in launching their ventures. To me, UMD was the best choice and I joined the 2006 MBA class with the clear intent of participating to the Dingman Center’s activities, and one day starting my own company.

The Dingman Center supported Goozex in so many ways. It provided the very first seed capital that was used to sign the contract with our first supplier and incorporate the company: we were in business. The Dingman Center gave the newly born startup its first office space: it was just a room shared with other businesses but it gave us a sense of stability and belonging. The then-Director of the Dingman Center connected us with the founder of another video game company: over the years this proved to be the most productive partnership for Goozex. The Entrepreneurs in Residence provided us with advice, support, and even participated in the seed stage round of financing. I am sure that Goozex would not have existed without the Dingman Center and its great people.

Over the years Goozex.com grew to become the #1 online platform for used video games in North America. We were consistently rated the best trading platform for several years in a row by third party websites. We created an engaged community of users many of whom are still with us years later. And we received multiple offers for acquisition, including one from one of the largest media conglomerate in the US (the owners have a castle in California!). We were excited by the opportunity, but even more excited by the growth prospects of our company and turned it down. We had recently launched our Facebook application (at a time when the Facebook App marketplace was considered the ultimate thing in business and everyone was striving to get there). And we had two big partnerships lined up and ready to close. It made sense to us, at the time.

But by 2009 things had started to get sour. The economy was in chaos. Entertainment spending declined, as did Gamestop’s used market for the first time in a decade. Prospective investors disappeared, followed by the two big partnerships. In just a few months we were back to the drawing board figuring out how to pivot and grow Goozex again.

We owned a solid and appreciated brand, a loyal user base, and played in a very large market that, despite the continuous challenges posed by digital games, showed little signs of shrinking. We knew Goozex could make it, and we decided that if we didn’t find the resources needed to grow the company, we wanted to find a new acquirer who had the possibility to scale it up. We rolled up our sleeves, cut down our costs, and doubled up our efforts.

Things really turned around when we finally found an interested buyer, a company who believed in the Goozex’s vision and wanted to restore its growth potential. We sold the company on November 15, 2012.

The Goozex story is one of endurance, passion, and ingenuity. It was a bumpy ride, but a fantastic ride nonetheless. It has shaped my life and that of all Goozex founders and associates. And I believe it’s a great Dingman Center success story. The resources, trust, and support offered by the Dingman Center were priceless. And it certainly proved that I made the right choice in attending the Robert H. Smith School of Business!

Valerio Zanini
Co-founder and CEO, Goozex.com

Tagged , , , ,

Worth Reading 9/20/13

This week we attended the First Look Fair, one of the longest running involvement traditions at UMD, to introduce new students to the Dingman Center. We were lucky to have a booth next to our friends at the Academy of Innovation & Entrepreneurship who joined is in celebrating the new campus-wide Innovation Fridays!


Now, check out what we think is worth reading this week.

Stay connected with the Dingman Center FB-f-Logo__blue_1024 twitter-bird-white-on-blue

Tagged , , , , , , ,