Event Recap: The Silk Road Rediscovered with Professor Anil Gupta

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Professor Anil Gupta, Dingman Chair in Strategy & Entrepreneurship

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of just that: innovators who give life to new ventures that drive economic and social value creation everyday around the world.  Who better to talk with Smith School students about the importance of international entrepreneurship than than global innovation expert, Professor Anil Gupta, the Michael Dingman Chair in Strategy and Globalization at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

On Wednesday, Nov.19, Prof. Gupta led a lunchtime discussion with Smith graduate students and faculty around his latest book, “The Silk Road Rediscovered,” which examines the business and cultural relationships between the emerging countries, India and China.

Though these countries have been around for thousands of years, India and China are more entrepreneurial than ever. As Prof. Gupta shared, these economic super-giants are growing faster than ever, and are poised to surpass the GDP of the developed countries such as the U.S., Japan and Germany in the next 10-20 years.

“Professor Gupta gave very interesting insights into India and China,” said Seth Faulb, a 2015 MBA candidate and president of Smith’s Entrepreneurship Club. “The most interesting thing from the discussion, I thought, was how in the last 2,000 years the global economy was dominated by these two countries and, given conservative estimates, it is very likely to return that way in only 10 years. It sounds to me like the more developed world needs another huge event like the industrial revolution to keep the competitive advantage they have held for the last 100 or so years.”

As future business leaders, a solid understanding of the economic growth and business opportunities in China and India is paramount. At Smith, we are privileged to have such worldly, expert professors, like Prof. Gupta, who can share not only the business implications but also the cultural nuances that will help us work more effectively with diverse teams.

“No matter what career path we are pursuing, at some point it will be very beneficial to have an understanding of the Chinese and Indian economies and the unique characteristics that define each,” said attendee and 2015 MBA candidate, Patrick Gillece. “There are few people who are as knowledgeable and as effective in communicating those issues as Dr. Gupta, so I really appreciated the opportunity to hear from such a renowned expert in the field.”

Anil K. Gupta is the Michael Dingman Chair in Global Strategy & Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business, at the University of Maryland at College Park. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on strategy, entrepreneurship and globalization. Thinkers50 has named him as one of the world’s 50 most influential management thinkers and has been named by The Economist as one of the world’s “superstars” in a cover story on “Innovation in Emerging Economies.” Click here for more information about Dr. Gupta and his latest book, “The Silk Road Rediscovered.”

IMG_5316The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Global Initiatives lead a program that brings Smith MBA students to China each year. This year, students will travel from Shanghai to Beijing where they will participate in the 9th Annual China Business Model Competition. Click here to register or learn more about the program.

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Top 5 Reasons to Attend The Pitch Dingman Competition

GEW_LogoThe Pitch Dingman Competition is THE signature event of UMD’s Global Entrepreneurship Week festivities.

Aside from seeing the five finalists pitch their fearless ventures, here are the top 5 reasons you should attend the Pitch Dingman Competition on November 20th:

  1. You can help pick the Audience Choice Winner.Text-to-vote for your favorite company to win the $500 Audience Choice Award. You might not get to choose the Grand Prize Winner, but your opinion does matter! After the last pitch, exercise your power by voting for your favorite company. The best part is, you can vote right from your smart phone.
  2. You’ll receive free Terp gear and an online coupon courtesy of Route One Apparel.You might have heard of Ali Von Paris. She’s a former Cupid’s Cup finalist, routeoneUMD alumna and founder & CEO of Route One Apparel, an e-commerce platform that specializes in making trendy, affordable state pride apparel and accessories. Ali is sending a special gift for all attendees and a special discount for your next Route One Apparel purchase.
  3. You’ll hear from UMD alum and successful entrepreneur, Jay Sunny Bajaj, Founder, CEO & President of DMI.Jay Sunny Bajaj is Digital Management, Inc.’s (DMI) Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Bajaj was raised in the technology industry where both of his parents independently built successful IT services businesses. He learned from the ground up and leveraged his deep understanding of the industry to found DMI in 2002. During his remarks at the Pitch Dingman Competition, Mr.Bjaj will share his entrepreneurial journey growing DMI to being named the “Top 50 Best Places to Work in the Greater Washington Area” by the Washington Business Journal.marketplace
  4. Free food! Enjoy a snack between Terp Marketplace and The Pitch Dingman Competition.Will you be attending the Terp Marketplace from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Grand Atrium? Stick around and enjoy a snack on us until the Pitch Dingman Competition begins at 6 p.m.
  5. Because Terps support Terps! Come out to cheer for your fellow Terps who made it to the finals.CapturePitching your business in front a panel of experienced judges and 250 attendees is no easy task. Not to mention the fact these companies have gone through extensive coaching in preparation for the competition. Join us and support these student entrepreneurs who have worked so hard to get here!

Join us on November 20 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall. REGISTER today to secure your seat.

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Do you have what it takes? Top 10 Reasons to Apply to Cupid’s Cup 

Kevin Plank’96, founder and CEO of Under Armour, is looking for the world’s most passionate student entrepreneurs for the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup. If you are a student entrepreneur with a game-changing business idea, here are 10 reasons you should apply today.

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Announcing the Pitch Dingman Competition Finalists

As the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship gears up for Global Entrepreneurship Week, the countdown is on for its signature event, the Pitch Dingman Competition. On November 20, five student entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges to compete for $3,500 in cash prizes.

This year, we received the most applications in the competition’s history. The pool of applicants was narrowed to ten, who then each gave a six-minute pitch to the Dingman Center team. From there, five companies were selected to compete at the Pitch Dingman Competition.

Meet our five finalists.

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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

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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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Dingman Jumpstarts Alumni Ventures

The Dingman Center has many entrepreneurship programs available to University of Maryland (UMD) students currently on campus. However, lately we noticed that the resources available to Terp alumni were a bit lacking. UMD has some of the most entrepreneurial alumni out there and the Dingman Center is poised to provide these alumni with the same venture creation methodologies we teach current students. This winter, the Center will launch Dingman Jumpstart, a startup boot camp designed exclusively for UMD alumni. The program will allow alumni to test their early stage venture’s hypotheses and conduct meaningful customer discovery in a short period of time. At the end of the program, which includes a boot camp weekend in January then two follow up meetings in February and March, each venture within the program should have a clear “go” or “no-go” decision.

 

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The Opportunity:

Each year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) invests billions of dollars into the R&D of innovative technologies. With the help of a national program called I-Corps, and through national and regional partnerships with top business schools across the country, these and other federally-funded research projects are given the entrepreneurial tools needed to succeed in the market. I-Corps participants go through a rigorous startup curriculum, developed in collaboration with lean launchpad pioneer Steve Blank, who was instrumental in coining the customer discovery methodology that played a huge part in launching the lean startup movement.

NSF selected a consortium including UMD, George Washington University and Virginia Tech to create the regional DC I-Corps program. Educators and local thought leaders in entrepreneurship make up the teaching faculty for the program. Last winter, Dingman Center Managing Director Elana Fine was recruited to join the teaching faculty and spent months teaching and advising I-Corps ventures.

The Result:

With the I-Corps curriculum now in Dingman’s toolkit, we considered how we could bring these skills to the Terp community, and the idea for Dingman Jumpstart was hatched.

“Jumpstart is really exciting for both Maryland alumni and the Dingman Center. For alumni, it’s an opportunity to access all of the resources available at the Dingman Center, which they may not have known about or accessed while in school,” said Fine. “This program is also a way for us to continue to provide value and support to our entrepreneurial alumni well-beyond graduation.”

In addition to Fine, who has been named one of DC’s “Power Women in Tech,” the Dingman Jumpstart faculty includes fellow DC I-Corps faculty member, Dean Chang.

Applications for Dingman Jumpstart are open now through December 12, 2014. Click here for more information and to apply.

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Checking In with John Lewandowski, Cupid’s Cup 2014 Grand Prize Winner

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On Nov. 1, the application opened for the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup; the University of Maryland’s national business competition chaired by Kevin Plank ’96, founder and CEO of Under Armour. In thinking about the 10th anniversary of Cupid’s Cup, we’re taking a look back at past winners and semifinalists whose companies have made it “big” after participating in the nation’s toughest business competition. We’ll start with last year’s grand prize winner, John Lewandowski.

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RAM (Rapid Assessment of Malaria)

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John is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the founder and CEO of Disease Diagnostic Group (DDG), a medical device company specializing in the development of rapid, accurate, reusable, mechanical, and inexpensive disease diagnostic tests. DDG’s flagship product is RAM (Rapid Assessment of Malaria), a potable device that can detect an infection using, basically, a laser pointer and a refrigerator magnet.

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Cupid’s Cup 2014 Grand Prize Winner, John Lewandowski, with Kevin Plank, Founder & CEO of Under Armour

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10th Annual Cupid’s Cup Business Competition Now Open

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Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Cupid’s Cup Business Competition, presented by Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank ’96 and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. In the 10th annual competition, the top student entrepreneurs from across the country and around the world can compete for $115,000 in total cash prizes.

The application deadline is Jan. 5, 2015. The final competition is set for Wednesday, April 22, 2015, at UMD’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

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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.

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