Hisaoka Fellow Interns at an Early Stage Real Estate Startup

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

Arjun Goel – Martin Development Corporation

Tell us about Martin Development Corporation. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?

Martin Development Corp is a real estate investment company focused on building a mixed-use, retail centric real estate portfolio in the District of Columbia. The company’s primary target acquisitions are located within the Eastern Core of DC (loosely defined as Connecticut Ave NW through H St NE), which contains over 2.1m SF of retail space not affiliated with a major project. The company focuses on creating an equal distribution of the following two types of retail asset classes within a target deal size of $2.0m-$25.0m:

  • Fully or partially occupied existing retail space in the established corridors of the District with existing income and immediate or future rental growth.
  • Vacant building, Raw Land or Retail condos from multifamily, office and hotel developers in the Eastern Core both for stabilizing projects and entitled but not yet completed projects.

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

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

Ashish Agarwal – MPower Financing

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

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

Tell us about your responsibilities thus far at MPOWER Financing?

My responsibilities at MPOWER included:

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

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Stewart Fellow Interns at a Medical Supply Startup

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

Emily Turner – Hybrent Inc.

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

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

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

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Hisaoka Fellow Interns at Smith Alum Startup Rybbon

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

Jennifer Hwang – Rybbon

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

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

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

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Stewart Fellow Spends the Summer Interning at Javazen

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

Matt Furda – JavazenCopy of Javazen logo

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

Javazen is a blend of coffee, tea, and superfoods. You brew Javazen the same way you would brew normal coffee grounds. I like to say that Javazen is mindfulness in a cup. It is a tool to help you feel at your best, and by replacing your daily cup of coffee with Javazen you are being mindful and acknowledging that every little step counts. Javazen’s mission is simply to help people experience each moment with clarity, vitality, and passion.

1eTell us about your responsibilities thus far at Javazen

Javazen is run by a small group of incredibly hardworking individuals. Because there is a small team behind everything, I have gotten a glimpse into nearly every aspect of the business. I have helped with everything from demos, content creation, and social media marketing to manufacturing and building our office space. I have demoed Javazen at stores, trade shows, and yoga festivals and would continuously learn about the market first hand by connecting with new Javazen drinkers. I have helped with content writing for blog posts and our weekly “Wednesday Zensday” newsletter. Lately, I have had bags of Javazen with me at all times, and I am always looking for a cool spot to get a great picture to generate content little by little. I love building things so naturally I became the go to build-it guy for various Javazen projects including our warehouse office space, which is nearly completed. Part of the job for an intern is to learn as much as possible, and that is a major part of what I have focused my time on. During meetings I offer my perspective, ideas, and thoughts on new campaigns and strategies. This internship has really been the quintessential startup experience.

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

by: Megan McPherson

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

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

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Learning to Step Back, Observe and Listen 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.

As my trip comes to an end I can safely say that my perspective on the world has changed drastically. This was my first time truly being exposed to development work. The two biggest things that I determined about this kind of work from my experiences in Ecuador are that it is a very slow process and that it is imperative for the planet.

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Beauty Made Easy with POSH

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.

Picture this. You’re a bride, and today is your wedding day, the day you are meant to look more beautiful than any other day in your life. Every meticulously planned moment of the day seems to be going off without a hitch, until your makeup artist shows up an hour late. Forgetting about the bridesmaids, she hurriedly goes to work on your face, only to leave it a caked on, ghoulish mess. With no time for a do-over, you spend your last moments before the ceremony not quietly reflecting on the beautiful journey you and your significant other are about to embark upon, but rather hastily adding and removing makeup with a compact mirror. You arrive to your venue 30 minutes late, stressed and feeling less than fabulous.

POSHNo exaggeration: this is a real thing that happened to a friend of mine. On the most recent season of HBO’s Girls, Marnie undergoes a similar trauma on her special day. Booking a freelance makeup artist, expecting them to show up on time and also give you the end result you want is a task so notoriously difficult that it lends itself to parody. But it doesn’t have to be so hard. POSH, a University of Maryland startup founded by rising junior Nathalyn Nunoo, is a beauty consultation service that takes the stress out of booking freelance makeup artists.

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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.

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

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Celebrate Ethiopian Culture with East Habesha

by: Megan McPherson

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

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

Saron

Founder, Saron Asfaw, wearing East Habesha

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

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