Tag Archives: Venture Practicum


New Venture Practicum is one of the Dingman Center’s signature courses. Taught by Maryland Smith Clinical Professor Oliver Schlake during the Spring semester, students experiment with business models, revenue streams and go-to-market strategies. By the end of this course, some startups are securing their first customers and generating revenue, while others are working on a beta or pilot. In the final class, students pitch for seed funding to move their business forward.

Read on to learn more about this cohort’s exciting student founders and their businesses!

Build Bigger – Jonathan MacGregor ’22
Build Bigger is a gym clothing brand company that builds community among people who go the gym. Targeted at mostly male audience aged (15-22), but increasing market fit.

Easy Park – Sarthak Patel ’25
An app that aims to make parking as convenient as possible by completely digitalizing the parking process where drivers would just have to park their car at their desired spot and they are one click away from parking their car.

Emily Garcia ’24

Em G Art Design Studio – Emily Garcia ’24 (Studio Art and Art Education)
Em G Art Design Studio offers handmade and personally designed products that can be gifted or used to personalize everyday living. These products are designed to be used as a source of inspiration, expression, and creativity.

Heart2Starr – Ileana Lozano ’22
Heart2Starr explores the influencer interface by taking its community members behind the scenes of the life and works of Ileana Lozano through a series of tweets. Heart2Starr creates conversations, inspires users worldwide, and offers community to users who resonate with its messages.

Paul Mouring ’22

Odin Electric – Paul Mouring ’22 (Mechanical Engineering)
A company focused on developing and implementing an alternate energy source that is cheap, safe, green and reliable. Odin’s generators will be necessary innovation that will help end the climate crisis.  

Sequester Carbon Certified – Nathan McMullen ’23
Many farms in Maryland are actively sequestering atmospheric CO2 in their soil, but consumers aren’t aware of these businesses impact on climate change. My venture certifies and labels products that sequester carbon for added value and visibility for eco-conscious consumers.

Shai Consulting – Shiv Agarwal ’23
I build Stand Operating Procedures that enable entrepreneurs ($1M-$10M revenue, 5-20 team members) to remove themselves from the execution of various business functions so that they can scale their operation. Additionally, my service streamlines, optimizes, and refines processes, however, this is not the target pain point.

Justin Fenn ’22

StockadooHrithik Bansal ’22 (Computer Science) and Justin Fenn ’22 (Computer Science)
Stockadoo is a stock market for content creators. Users can buy and sell shares of their favorite creators, and creators receive an alternative source of monetization.

Hrithik Bansal ’22

Sparza – Ryan Myer ’22 (Finance and Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
My team and I have created A Balancing Act card game which is a hilarious and wild combination of charades and Jenga. A Balancing Act is a card game that will eventually help fund Solis School, a school meant to provide unfortunate children with the opportunity to learn essential life skills and become successful in life.

Treasuremybeaute’ Treasure Valdez ’23 (Communication)
Treasuremybeaute’ is a brand designed for women with demanding lifestyles that are in need of high-performing products that saves time without compromising quality. TreasureMyBeaute’ products were created to add value, premium quality, and exclusivity to Women across the globe. Creating an experience of glamour that starts with our packing sparking and emotional charge as YOU unlock your gorgeousness.

Tribar – Perri Moeller ’22
This company makes protein bars made out of proprietary blend of jerky (beef, turkey, mushroom), seeds and veggies. The target market is for the active person who wants to stay satiated, with a bar that’s yummy and a complete macronutrient break down.

UCleaner – Blake Kuzemchak ’23
Geriatric and hospitalized individuals have reduced fine motor skills that makes it for them to adequately maintain their oral hygiene. As the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation is projected to significantly increase the geriatric population by 2030 and beyond, we aim to develop a product that facilitates oral hygiene within this vulnerable demographic.

Undefined Dreamerz – Takiyah Roberts ’25 (Material Science Engineering)
Undefined Dreamerz is a clothing brand that allows customers to be themselves unapologetically both in this reality and virtual realities. Undefined Dreamerz is a cutting edge streetwear fashion brand that is integrating technology with fashion. 

Venture – Isaac Lefkovitz ’24 Samai Patel ’24
When people move to new places, they need events to go to and people to go with. Venture solves this problem by connecting people to events where they can meet others who want to go, taking away the awkwardness that comes from having to make plans with someone new.

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What’s happening at the Dingman Center?

Every two weeks, the Dingman Center distributes The Pitch, which highlights important happenings in our community. In case you missed it, here’s a look at what’s up in entrepreneurship:

Dingman Center Offers Lean Startup Program Exclusively for UMD Alumni

jumpstartThe Dingman Center has created a unique program to help UMD alumni entrepreneurs jumpstart their startup ideas. Dingman Jumpstart will help alumni de-risk their ideas using the principles of the highly effective Lean Launchpad methodology. The eight-week program kicks off with a  boot camp weekend (Jan. 9-11) featuring interactive workshops, lectures and intense customer discovery. The program continues with two additional workshops in February and March. In the end, alumni should be equipped to make a “go or no-go” decision on their idea.

Campus partners include the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, DC-ICorps and Mtech. The full schedule, program materials and registration information is available online.

Don’t miss the opportunity to jumpstart your business idea. Register by December 12.

Continue reading

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MBA Students Work for Tipton Equity Partners in Venture Practicum Course

In this post on the Venture Practicum series, Dingman Center marketing graduate assistant Grant Lee interviews Aditya Dokania, a second-year MBA student focused on general management.

Grant Lee (GL): Hi Aditya. Good to see you. Why did you decide to participate in Venture Practicum?
Aditya Dokania (AD): I went to the Smith Experience information session to learn about the program and immediately gained interest.  Before coming to Smith, I had experience working in a startup in India and knew I wanted to work with startups in the United States.

GL: What startup are working with this semester?
AD: I am working for Tipton Equity Partners with Brian Banes. It is a private equity fund. Although my major is general management, I always wanted to utilize the resources that our school can offer for new venture finance and thought this would be a good opportunity.

GL: Tell me more about your project.
AD: My current project is to analyze the deals from last year. My goal is to understand the risk for the company and for the industry. I conduct data analysis that helps identify which startups to invest in the future and can also help us to understand how they get funded. I also write a biweekly newsletter.

GL: What do you want to achieve through this experience?
AD: The company’s goal is to improve communication and I can help to identify new targets for investment. Personally, I want to gain more insight about the private equity industry and to learn how people do research and identify targets. Back home in India, new venture financing is a relatively new field. I believe I can leverage this unique experience when I return to India.

GL: Do you think working at a startup will be unlike any other job you’ve had?
AD: Before my MBA, I worked as a consultant at Ernst and Young for more than two years. The scale was tremendously different. At Ernst and Young, it felt like there were thousands of other people there. At Tipton Equity, where there are around 6 or 7 people, I feel more valuable to the company.

GL: What skills or expertise do you offer to your startup?
AD: Research and industry analysis. My graduate assistantship experience has helped me a long way in doing research. I work in the Department of Decisions, Operations and Information Technology department here at the Smith School. My job is to do research on various subjects and prepare case studies for faculty members. I apply this experience to the projects that I am working on for Tipton Equity.

GL: How do you think the MBA program has helped you thus far?
AD: Coming from a consulting background, my goal after graduation is to go back to the consulting field in the US or India. A prestigious MBA will help me to move up the corporate ladder a bit faster. Moreover, the MBA has given me training in public speaking. I have had many opportunities to present on stage and that has helped me to improve my confidence and my communication abilities overall.

Aditya DokaniaDokania-23Aug12-11 (1)
Aditya spent two years in risk and assurance consulting prior to coming to the Smith School for his MBA. He focused on performing systems audits and identifying systemic weaknesses that may lead to leakage of financially significant information. While pursuing his MBA, he interned with the International Monetary Fund where he worked on enterprise architecture and roadmapping for the Information and Knowledge Management division.

Brian Banes
Brian spent three years in management consulting for financial services companies prior to his MBA. While pursuing his MBA, Brian has worked with a number of public and private investment firms. Post-MBA, he will be working in investment banking with a focus on healthcare.

Grant Lee
Grant Lee is a second year full-time MBA student focused on Marketing at Smith School of Business. Prior to Smith, he had four year experiences in retail marketing and sales management. He is passionate about sports, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is currently seeking career opportunities in sports and marketing management. To know more about him, check out his blog: mrgrantlee.com 

About Tipton Equity Partners 

logo small copy Tipton Equity Partners is a middle-market private equity firm investing in promising enterprises in the US and in select emerging markets globally. Tipton Equity Partners primarily focuses on investments in healthcare, software and business services.
Tipton’s principals are experienced investors and operators who contribute strategic insight and execution experience to new ventures and growth-stage companies, in addition to equity capital investment. Tipton’s portfolio companies and managed interests are spread throughout the United States and across international locations, from southern Europe to the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and Australia.


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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.

Grant Lee1512432_10100192309098222_25303874_n1
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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MBA Students Work for DC Startup Homesnap in Venture Practicum Course

Dingman Center recently launched the second year of Venture Practicum, a course that provides MBA students with hands-on experience at startups. Selected students are paired with a local startup based their skills and interests. We invited Jimpei Harada, second year full-time MBA student from Tokyo, Japan, to share his experiences thus far in the course. Along with part-time MBA student, Tadhg Moriarty, Jimpei will be consulting for Homesnap, a real estate search platform for people to explore homes online or from a mobile phone. Dingman Center Board of Advisors Chairman, Mark Walsh serves as Executive Chair of this D.C. based startup. You may also remember Homesnap from last year’s Cupid’s Cup Showcase.

Grant Lee (GL): Tell me how and why you decided to participate in Venture Practicum?jimpei
Jimpei Harada (JH): Last summer I interned in the Amazon Japan leadership program in the Supply Chain Department. My role was more of a consultant than a supply chain intern. Traditionally, in the business world, people tend to collect and analyze data and then come up with possible solutions. However, at Amazon, my boss, who was an experienced consultant in McKinsey, taught me a different framework which is to develop the potential solution first and then prove that work by gathering and analyzing data. For this project, I want to leverage the skills I have learned through my internship and MBA coursework and apply them to Homesnap. Plus, I have never worked in the US; I believe it will be a valuable experience.

GL: Describe the startup will you be working with this semester?
JH: Homesnap is a real estate broker platform. Users can download the app, take and upload pictures, and search information using the property search.


GL: Describe your project. What is the goal?
JH: The goal is to create a platform to measure user engagement. The company wants to know how users test, track, and behave with the website and app. Tadhg Moriarty and I will investigate website analysis like Google Analytics and create tutorials in the end.

GL: Do you think working at a startup will be unlike any other job you’ve had?
JH: Definitely. Prior to beginning MBA, I had ten years of corporate experience as an IT engineer in Japan. Through the MBA program, I have learned that startup companies have a fast decision-making process, and now I am going to see how it works.

GL: How do you think the project will help your future career?
JH: I hope I learn to have an “entrepreneurship mindset” while doing this project. This project will help me to ease the pain of transition period from a student into a full-time employee.

Founded in 2008 and based in Washington DC, Homesnap is a trusted real estate search platform for people to explore homes and search real estate listings online or from a mobile phone. Using the Homesnap app (available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices) you can snap a photo of any home, nationwide, to find out all about it. For listed homes, you may be able to see interior photos too! When you’re ready to buy or sell real estate, you can contact a real estate agent within Homesnap to schedule a showing or list your home in the Multiple Listing Service.

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

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The Smith Venture Practicum Program – A Student’s Perspective

One of my favorite things about going to school at Smith is the ability that we have to learn and grow outside of the classroom in a variety of ways. Don’t get me wrong, the classroom is a great learning environment. But in a job market where employers are constantly looking for “real life” experience, it’s necessary to have tangible application stories to tell. But I was also interested in seeing what it looked like under the hood of a startup. What are the building blocks? What is the mindset required? What are the challenges that they face every day?

That is why I took the Venture Practicum for my Smith Experience. Venture Practicum connects MBAs with startups sourced through the Dingman Center.  The course was the perfect combination for me to combine experience in marketing with exposure to an early stage venture. My team paired with DC tech startup Homesnap, which has an app that allows you to take a picture of any home to find out all about it. The project for the semester was to help drive downloads of the app at a make-or-break inflection point in their business. We did this by going to South by Southwest to promote the app (and winning awards in the process), launching new versions of the app and preparing for a round of fundraising.

134135_Homesnap-Logo-HorizontalWe worked hand in hand with the Homesnap team to develop digital ad campaigns, targeting strategies and analyze their effectiveness in driving downloads. It was a great way to learn about a thriving career area, digital marketing. At the same time we got an insider perspective on why the Homesnap team is so successful: the ability to think on the fly, experiment, and be adaptable are all critical elements to their success. What a great way to learn about “real life”!

0c24dbbShurid Sen is a 2014 Full-Time MBA Candidate at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. In addition to participating in the inaugural Venture Practicum program, Shurid is the 2013-2014 President of the Smith Entrepreneur’s Club as well as a regional finalist in the 2013 Venture Capital Investment Competition.

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