Ten Semifinalists Named in Pitch Dingman Competition

PDC Semifinalist AnnouncementOver the past few weeks, young University of Maryland alumni from across the nation have been using an online platform to judge the quarterfinal round of judging for the Pitch Dingman Competition. The results are in and there will be 10 semifinalists pitching on December 3 in a “Shark Tank-” style competition. An all-star panel of judges will select the most promising five startups who will move on to the final round of competition on February 16. In the end, the finalists will pitch for $30,000 in cash prizes.

This is a Terp startup event you won’t want to miss. In addition to a tough competition, audience members will hear a keynote address from Jason Cohen, CEO of Halen Brands and proud UMD alumnus. Cohen founded his first food-related company in 1999 called Mamma Says. This company filled the market gap in tasty biscotti. From there, he sold the business to World Gourmet Marketing which produces popular snack foods under the flagship brand, Sensible Portions. Snacks include Veggie Straws, Pita Bites and Multigrain Crisps. A more recent success is SkinnyPop popcorn which will be served at the Semifinal Competition. Attendees will also have the chance to text-to-vote for their favorite company and award them the $500 Audience Choice Award. Register to attend and bring a friend to cast your votes at the competition!

Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinalists

Centurion Virtual Reality

Founder: Andre Rauch

Centurion Virtual Reality is a software company that uses a 3D game engine to develop educational simulations based off real world scenarios. Our goal is to revolutionize education by bringing virtual reality to the classroom.


Founder: Russell Garing

Embitterment is a DC-based cocktail bitters company that produces high-quality, handcrafted aromatic products designed for both serious mixologists and casual, at-home bartenders.


Founder: Ariel Bitton

Using its machine-learning algorithm, Flutter generates personally tailored activity recommendations so users can stop browsing, and start doing.


Founder: Jonathan Kau

ICOW is democratizing higher education applications for international students. Our first product is a TurboTax-like web application that guides Chinese students through the process of writing resumes, researching universities, and writing essays.


Founder: Aaron Pludwinski

Kanvasroom.com provides the personalized creative talent search and workflow that you both need and deserve.

Spot This

Founder: Sumanth Jinagouda

Spot This is an on demand fashion discovery service. Upload picture of the item you desire to purchase. Our fashion experts, using proprietary image processing algorithm, will find you the best matches!


Founder: Natalie Urban

You’re a college student doing big things on little sleep. At uBoard, we are working to make your night more comfortable so that your day is more productive.


Founder: Fahed Hijazi

The new professional social network for today’s generation.


Co-Founders: Tyler Denk ’16; Taylor Johnson ’16; and Tommy Johnson ‘16

Have you ever had a great idea for a website or mobile application, but lacked the technical skills to bring it to life? VentureStorm connects aspiring student entrepreneurs to talented student developers locally on their campus.

Judges Panel

  • Jason CohenCEO, Halen Brands
  • Barry GossettVice Chairman, University System of Maryland Board of Regents
  • Sara HeraldAssociate Director, Social Entrepreneurship, Center for Social Value Creation & Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Kenneth UlmanChief Strategy Officer, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Oliver SchlakeClinical Professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business

UMD Startup Focuses on Customer Acquisition at Recent Conference

By: Justin Taubman MBA ’16

Last week, Managing Director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Elana Fine and Associate Director, Holly DeArmond, visited the University of Florida to attend the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) annual conference. Founded in 1996, GCEC provides for collaboration and communication on specific issues and challenges confronting university-based entrepreneurship centers. Each year in October, a global conference is held on the campus of a GCEC member school. This year’s conference drew more than 300 delegates from 17 countries, 42 states and 212 colleges, universities and schools. At the annual awards banquet, the Dingman Center received the 2015 Outstanding Contributions to Venture Acceleration award. The Dingman Center was selected for its Fearless Founders Accelerator with the mission of providing student entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to develop their business ideas and successfully launch their businesses.

The Dingman Center was not the only UMD presence at the conference. I spoke with Justin Searles the co-Founder of Venture Board (also founder of the Terp Startup Shell) who also attended GCEC. Justin has a unique understanding of how rapidly schools are adopting entrepreneurship into their curriculum. Venture Board is a platform to assist schools in connecting student entrepreneurs across campus and organizing special events. Justin explained that one of the biggest problems that newer entrepreneurship centers are struggling with today are the silos among separate entrepreneurship initiatives across campus and departments. Venture Board is a tool designed to help schools deal with those types of problems. As you could imagine, GCEC was a ripe place for Justin and his co-Founders, Scott Block and Avi Eisenberger. Justin said that his market makes business development enjoyable, that his customers’ jobs are to help young entrepreneurs succeed. Additionally, he mentioned that his customers are highly engaged with he and his partners so they are constantly receiving constructive feedback to enhance the product. For Venture Board, their attendance of GCEC was invaluable. They were in front of so many of their customers hearing about their pain points and learning how they could add value. This will be very helpful as they continue to expand through their recent partnership with Blackstone LaunchPad.


One of the speakers at GCEC mentioned a forecast of the students at their University; they said that by 2030, 50% of the students would want to start their own business after graduation. Everyone in the audience seemed shocked, but then the next slide came up on the presentation and that data point was actually a poll from 2015. Colleges and Universities are realizing that many of the largest donors are actually entrepreneurs and schools that have entrepreneurship centers can stay engaged with those alumni to stay involved as a mentor, speaker, or even future donor. The proliferation of entrepreneurship programming is wonderful and we are very lucky to have such an established center at the University of Maryland.

Networking with Startups

By: Justin Taubman MBA ’16

The Smith School of Business’ Office of Career Services (OCS) is a wonderful resource to help students find jobs after school. OCS focuses on bringing consulting, supply chain, marketing, and finance firms to Smith to recruit because most students are interested in pursuing careers in those fields. However there is a minority of students interested in pursuing less traditional careers. Unfortunately, the job hunt is a little bit more difficult for those of us interested in working somewhere like an early stage startup. The hiring process for startups is unlike any bigger more established firm, so applying the same process won’t be too effective. I’d like to share some tips that I found helpful for getting an MBA summer internship and am continuing to follow during full-time job hunt.


1776 Event Photo Credit: radioexpert.org

Startups hire to fill positions just in time; they cannot afford to hire human resource professionals or recruiters to fill positions nine months in advance. This is why networking is so important for landing a good job in this category. If you are diligent about networking in the startup world and people remember who you are, when they are looking for talent, you are much more likely to come up in conversation.

There are so many opportunities to network with startups in the Baltimore and DC area. I am signed up to receive information from Meetup about tech meetups, entrepreneurship meetups, but there are a lot more specific meetups that might be more useful to others. Local incubators, such as 1776 also hold networking events regularly that are either free to students or charge less than $20 to attend. There are plenty of resources online to find out where the next networking event is being held. If you go to enough of them you will likely start seeing the same people over and over again because it’s a smaller network than you think. You will also start to figure out who the big players are in the area and who is hiring, etc.


Entrepreneur at work Photo credit: gobankingrates.com

Networking with startup entrepreneurs isn’t exactly like networking with other professionals. Business professional attire normally gives entrepreneurs anxiety, so when going to networking events, I suggest dressing down. Think jeans and an un-tucked button down with Vans sneakers. Entrepreneurs are also probably not going to just meet you once or twice and then call you when they have a spot to fill for their company or one of their friend’s. So the networking process should be organic and should be more like making a new friend. Invite them to go out with you to a cool concert or to meet up if you realize you are traveling to the same city at the same time. Get them to know and like you, not just as a valuable member of their team, but as a person they wouldn’t mind working 100 hours a week with.

Stay in contact with everyone you meet, but especially with the folks that you believe have the most influence to help you find a job. Show that you are high-energy and hard to shut down. Demonstrate your strengths and value to a startup and eventually you will see results.

Once you have found a great opportunity to work at a startup, remember that the Dingman Center offers two very great opportunities for students that get offered internships at startup companies. The Kathryn Stewart Fellowship Program for undergraduate Terps and the Hisaoka Fellowship Program for first-year full-time MBAs both award salary matching of up to $5000 for startup internships. These fellowships are extremely helpful as a selling point to entrepreneurs that cannot afford to pay expensive salaries for top talent. As a Hisaoka Fellow, I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to work for a startup without having to worry about a lower salary than my classmates. If you are interested, check out how to apply now!

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015


GEW Banner-06

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 2014, the Dingman Center is back at it, November 16-20, for a week-long celebration of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Here’s what he have planned for this year.

November 16 and 17 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Atrium, Van Munching Hall
Smith is Global

Visit the employer desk to hear about activities and events for Global Entrepreneurship Week and International Education Week. Enjoy a doughnut courtesy of the Dingman Center and Office of Global Initiatives.

November 16 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Universities at Shady Grove
Food Entrepreneurship Conference

It’s the tastiest entrepreneurship event in town. Meet student and alumni startups from the food sector as you sample food from some of the areas hottest restaurants. Hear from founders who are revolutionizing how and what we eat.

November 18 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
2517 Van Munching Hall
ChangeTheWorld Showcase

The Center for Social Value Creation presents the ChangeTheWorld.org Showcase provides students consultants an opportunity to present on their recommendations and solicit feedback. Register here.

November 19 at Noon
2333 Van Munching Hall
Dingman Center Speaker Series: Sean Skelley

Sean Skelley will come to campus to talk about how he sold his business to Best Buy and grew it to Geek Squad, employing 20,000 people and generating $2 billion in revenue each year. Skelley will talk about his journey and how his team found inspiration from an unlikely hero: Tigger, Winnie-the-Pooh’s irrepressible friend. Lunch will be provided. Register today.

November 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Outside, Stamp Student Union
Dingman Fridays on TerpRide

Dingman Fridays are hopping on the bus! Walk-in sessions will be held on the UMD TerpRide bus parked in the bus station outside of Stamp Student Union. Hop on and pitch your business idea.

November 20 from 1:30 to 5 p.m.
Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall
Smith VCIC

The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) is a global MBA competition that Smith competes in annually. The final negotiations by the finalists between the student “fund” teams and entrepreneurs is open to the public. The winning team will go on to the regional competition at Georgetown University on January 29.



Sam Feldman ’16 Launches Card Buddy Deluxe on Kickstarter

By: Justin Taubman

When we talk about serial entrepreneurs I usually think about folks well out beyond college-age. At least, that’s what I thought until I met Sam Feldman (UMD ‘16). Sam epitomizes the mMain Image Brooklynission of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Sam recounted his history with the Dingman Center and it made me feel really good about what the programming that the Center provides. He told me he started out his freshman year going to Dingman Fridays, he has competed in Pitch Dingman Competition twice (and mistakenly thought he wasn’t allowed to compete again), and he has taken the Fearless Founders Idea Shell and Hatch courses. Today, Sam is launching a Kickstarter campaign for his new venture, the Card Buddy Deluxe, a high-quality leather stick-on wallet for the back of the phone.

Everyone has seen the rubber stick-on wallets for the back of the phone, the University of Maryland’s IT Department even gives them out for free. However, Sam felt there was white space in the industry. He saw potential in higher quality wallets that wouldn’t tear and that would look more like a wallet one would put in their back pocket or their hand bag. Thus inspired the Car Buddy Deluxe.CardBuddy Photo of Sam Feldman

Sam’s search for a manufacturer of this new product started on a little platform named, Alibaba. This was by no means a trivial task. After negotiating with eleven manufacturers, Sam ended up with dozens of samples and selected what he believed to be a stellar prototype. After more negotiation on cost and what it would take to reach economies of scale, Sam had his manufacturer.

Today on Kickstarter, the first 100 orders can get their Card Buddy Deluxe for just $15, the next 100 sold will be $16, and so on until they reach President Loh Custom CardBuddy$20 (they will sell in stores for $25). To help out his campaign, Sam got on social media to call for help from influential personalities that he admires. He showed me how he has gotten a friend with a fancy engraving printer that works perfectly on his product to design custom wallets with the faces of influencers that he has solicited to help with his Kickstarter campaign.

This is the story of a student that happens to be a serial entrepreneur that has used every resource at his fingertips to develop a great product and business. Sam Feldman should inspire all the other entrepreneurs out there to take a break from that video game or Netflix and just make something out of nothing.

Support Sam’s Kickstarter here.

Featured EIR: Bob London

By Justin Taubman, MBA’16

This week I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview Bob London as part of a blog series on the Dingman Center’s newest Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) and their various entrepreneurial backgrounds. Bob is one of the Dingman Center’s new EIRs making himself available to students on Dingman Fridays this year. Bob has a very interesting career and hopefully others will find it inspiring. Bob London

Years ago, the term “self employed” was regarded by many as another way of saying unemployed. At least that is what Bob London remembers from when he left his job with a global telecom company to create his own consulting shop in the late 1990’s. He really just wanted to be his own boss and have more flexibility, something that his friends were particularly jealous of when he would tell them that he was going for a bike ride in the middle of the day.

When I asked Bob what he feared most about going out on his own, he surprisingly told me that he didn’t have enough fear. The fear of losing stability and a regular paycheck is something that I believe entrepreneurs either innately lack or they gradually overcome. Bob explained to me that the social acceptance of leaving the comfortable and stable corporate world has come around a lot since the 90’s. Although we laughed about how most people today think about entrepreneurship, they immediately look at their phone and Facebook or Pinterest icons float through their head. In fact, entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes like Russell Garing’s bitters company or Bob’s consulting venture.

Bob’s expertise is in B2B marketing strategy and planning and his primary goal as an EIR is to ensure that anyone who seeks his advice will walk away understanding the importance of seeing the world from the customer’s perspective–via customer discovery and other methods. Bob explained, “you need to always be curious about the customer’s perspective and balance the passion for your idea with what your customers want.” I could not agree more. It may seem simple, but it’s incredible how many products have skipped that critical element of the design phase…remember the Segway? Yeah, neither do I!

Remember to pitch your business ideas by Bob London and the rest of the EIRs at Dingman Fridays from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. We’re here every Friday! #TGIDF

More on Bob London

Bob London, President of London, Ink LLC, serves as an Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for B2B technology and professional services firms. His clients typically have a significant market opportunity or challenge and need an injection of senior marketing expertise and leadership–but aren’t ready for the cost and commitment of a full-time marketing executive. Clients work with London, Ink to assess their market opportunity, better understand their customers’ needs, determine strategic options and develop a practical go-to-market plan to improve revenue, market awareness, customer acquisition and retention. London, Ink also prioritizes and executes key B2B marketing initiatives–from online marketing to web design/development to social media to public relations–that generate the highest return on investment.

Bob is a 20+ year marketing veteran who has achieved rapid results with marketing budgets ranging from the $200 million network television launch of MCI Friends & Family to London, Ink’s frugal $1,000 annual budget (really!). He also served as VP of Marketing for Digex, Incorporated, a national Web hosting and management firm that grew 100% annually during his tenure and went through not one but two IPOs, as well as director of product marketing for Verisign, the leading web identity and security firm.

Bob serves on the board of The Marketing Alliance, the leading education and networking group for B2B technology marketing executives in the DC area. Bob is a marketing advisor for Bisnow’s Gen Z program for budding high school entrepreneurs and also serves on the board of advisors of National Capital Companies, a mid-market investment bank headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Bob graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a BS in Marketing. He resides in Potomac, MD with his wife and two teenage sons.

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Entrepreneurship doesn’t always mean starting a mobile app

In today’s start-up environment, we see constant reporting on apps and digital players. The logic makes sense, scaling is a lot simpler and the pockets of acquirers are deep and open. A year ago my friends and I did something a little different, we started a cocktails bitter company in DC, called Embitterment. We had been playing with the product for fun almost two years before, when we realized this big market had no local brand. The downside to entering is that 70% or more of peoFB_IMG_1438814940328ple who have been exposed to bitters have no idea what they are, or understand their application. The short answer is that they are a flavor extract and you put a few drops in most drinks. So we were forced to not only produce the product, but also discover what the market would be in the few hours we had each week to work between our full-time gigs.

The nice thing about going product first was that we didn’t have to decide on what our product should look like based on market research, but simply what market existed for what we made. This did mean that scaling would be longer as we had to find clients via trial and error, yet we found that even those who choose not to buy often talk about us to their friends. Some of these friends became customers and our sample bottles were being pooled and collected in a few cases. As the sample volume dropped, the customers began to emerge. Our marketing guru, Eric had done a lot of work over the first six months to help with this emergence, the drinks community loves Instagram and Facebook so posting nice pictures of someone else’s product being used with ours often got their attention. The costs are low in that type of marketing, and you get 1439066832121a nice cocktail out of it. I should probably mention that R&D is by far the biggest perk for me, since it entails that we all just gather and test cocktails. That makes me more excited than any start-up I’ve seen so far, we always remember to relax here and that we are there as friends. Stresses can build and there is no HR to mediate, so be prepared to get upset but don’t hold on to anger. Most companies fail, forget about trying to avoid failure and start enjoying your successful moments.

A note on funding, I would estimate that we have put less than ten thousand dollars in the company. When you can control your own growth, something many digital applications can’t, you can avoid building up excess capacity early and instead fund with reinvested earnings. While I can calculate the benefits of leveraging, I can tell you that not worrying about bank loans is more than worth it early on. Being flexible with a products roll out and growth gives us time to focus on balancing a part-time endeavor with our full-time lives.

By Russell Garing

Russell is a 2nd year MBA student at the Smith School of Business. He is working as a Graduate Assistant at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Beyond working on his startup, Russ is interested in Finance, Analytics and Supply Chain Management. 

Final Day of TechCrunch Disrupt ’15

Today’s the final day of TechCrunch Disrupt, the grand finale. We’ve seen some interesting startups present on stage, even more interesting booths in Startup Alley, and today’s the day when we see the winner. The finalists were a diverse bunch:

  • An indoor farming operations platform (Agrilyst)
  • A POS/Inventory system specifically designed for the burgeoning cannabis market (Green Bits)
  • A Mint.com for small business (Leap Financial)
  • A nail decorating robot (Preemadonna)
  • A healthy subscription food model for kids’ lunches (Scrumpt)
  • A Slack-type communications solution for Healthcare (Stitch)

While each of these contenders have an interesting and thoughtful approach to product-market fit, only one will come away with the final cup and the $50,000 grand prize.

This year, it was Agrilyst, a cloud-based solution to manage indoor farming, with Green Bits as the runner up. Interestingly, both top finalists this year seem poised to take advantage of the growth in legalized cannabis consumption. Given the small niche, it’s hard to see Agrilyst as a truly disruptive company in the same league as Uber or Airbnb, but it does seem like a real innovation for the underserved farming industry. Greenhouses are complex, heavily data intensive operations, and owners have previously had to make do with disparate tools like Excel that were not well suited to the job.


image from TechCrunch

Still, first prize isn’t everything, as the $180 MM funded second placer from years past CloudFlare can attest when they went up on stage. At the end of the day, the real prize at Disrupt isn’t the prize itself, but the attention and credibility in the eyes of investors and the tech media.

Then there’s the other “startup” that launched here at Disrupt. While it’s not one of the contenders on stage, one of the most memorable moments here was seeing Snoop Dogg announce the launch of his new startup, a premium cannabis lifestyle content site dubbed Merry Jane.


Company tour of LinkedIn

This trip has been a nonstop whirlwind of networking dinners, company tours, and of course the hive of activity here at Disrupt. The passion and awareness for tech and innovation here is both eye-opening and deeply satisfying to see. Even during our last day here at the conference, we still managed to fit in a lunchtime trek to LinkedIn’s downtown office here with a friend to show us around. 

While getting around the city during this trip is a small detail, I think it’s been a telling example of the environment here. We’ve been completely spoiled by the cost and convenience of Lyft Line and UberPool, shared ride services that are a game changer for effortlessly getting around a new city at a low price. It seems like everyone takes it here, with enough demand for most rides you see them continuously pick up and drop off multiple passengers.

droneIt’s been incredible being completely immersed in the tech industry here, a tradition that I hope will hopefully continue into the years ahead.

By: Ying Chen

YingYing graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Marketing, a minor in Biology, and a strong mix of extracurricular experience in graphic design and digital media. He previously worked at JPMorgan Chase in Wilmington, DE working up from intern to a Leadership Development Program rotational analyst, to Marketing Manager. He has a strong interest in technology and product development. 

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We arrived at Tech Crunch Disrupt this morning filled with anticipation. We were excited to explore the dozens of new companies that had set up booths in Startup Alley, to listen to amazing speakers, and to take a road trip to Mountain View to visit the offices of Google and Facebook.

The most memorable speakers of the day were Nikesh Arora of SoftBank and Andrew Bozworth from Facebook. Nikesh spoke about SoftBank’s strategy, which is to invest in great companies with strong leadership, as opposed expending capital trying to build out the same competencies inside SoftBank. Andrew, or Boz as he is called, was questioned quite extensively about Facebook’s relationship and attitude towards companies who want to advertise on the FB platform. In the past, the relationship had turned contentious when companies felt that Facebook was not upfront about advertising policies.

By far, my most favorite part of the trip has been visiting the Google and Facebook campuses. At Google, we got to ride around on the company bicycles, eat in their cafeteria (the ice cream is delicious!), and speak to three people who work in different areas of the company. We learned about initiatives at Google Play, Google Search, as well as the difficulties of building and managing the Google server farms.

At Facebook, we got to tour the vast campus and write on The Wall. The Facebook campus had a very small town feel to it with a main street and small shops with everything from a barbershop to an ice cream parlor. Facebook emphasizes community and family by offering exercise classes and weekly movie nights in the summer.

To me, the difference in West Coast vs. East Coast companies comes down to an emphasis on the quality of life. Googlers take time out of their day to sit in the courtyard or to play on their beach volleyball court. Facebook employees bring their families to the campus on Wednesday nights to watch movies together. It’s about working hard, shooting for the moon, and enjoying your life.


Lana at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto

By: Lana Bronipolsky

Prior to starting her MBA at Smith, Lana spent 7 years in the financial services industry, most recently at PIMCO in Southern California. Originally from the DC metro area, Lana was excited to return to the area and through the Dingman Center participate in the local startup culture. At Smith, Lana has focused on entrepreneurial finance and is especially interested in financial technology. Her team was awarded first place in the Leadership Under Fire case competition and her team was runner up in the Venture Capital Investment Competition in November 2014 team. She is most interested in helping early stage companies raise capital, develop growth strategies, and run efficient operations.

Day 1: TechCrunch Disrupt ’15 San Francisco

By: Jun Wang

I took an UberPOOL with another woman who came to Disrupt to represent her company at the Startup Alley. I arrived at 8:28 a.m. to the event venue at the 22nd Street, Pier 70. The venue surprised me at first with its rustic exteriors, massive steel beams inside, and the uniqueness of its raw beauty. Rooted deep in history, set among the old shipyards of San Francisco, the buildings of Pier 70 evoke images of a bygone era and stir the imagination. No luxury conference halls and fancy interior designs, even the typical mild Bay weather was heated by the organic concentrations of thousands of attendees from all over the world.

The conference kicked off with five-minute opening remarks by TechCrunch, no lengthy speech, typical to other professional conferences. A serial of fireside chats, conversations and panel discussions involved investors such as Ron Conway and Topher Conway (SV Angel), Yuri Milner (DST Global), Beth Seidenberg (KPCB), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed Venture Partners), Bill McGlashan (TPG Growth), Dana Settle (Greycroft Partners); successful startup entrepreneurs such as Parker Conrad (Zenefits), Drew Houston (Dropbox), Pavel Durov (Vkontakte), and Helen Greiner (Cyphy Works); and current tech leaders such as Dr. JoSnoop Dog at Disrupt launching his company MerryJanehn Kelly (IBM), Dr. Richard Marks (Sony), Paul Raphael (Felix and Paul Studios), and Claude Zellweger (HTC). Just when I thought think Snoop Dogg came as an entertainment star for the conference to add some fun and music, he sat down with Ted Chung on stage talking about Merry Jane, his newly launched pot-flavored lifestyle media platform. Snoop Dogg founded a tech startup? Yes, what else can you imagine will happen with this tech startup boom?!

My favorite speaker of the day was billionaire, Russian venture capitalist, Yuri Milner. Unlike some, Mr. Milner was not scared that killer robots are coming to destroy humanity in the years ahead. His view about the rise of artificial intelligence is better described as a beautiful friendship between humans and machines. “I think that what we see very clearly is that there is a convergence between the human brain and computers,” said Milner. “Google is a good example of that; when you have a million people feediCrowded Conference Scene at Disruptng the machine — all the content on Google is created by the human brain and then there are a bunch of servers that are analyzing this data and feeding it back into the human brain, so there is a very peaceful co-existence between us and Google. Our brains are slowly adjusting to Google being around.”

While trying not to adjust my brain too much to passive listening, I went around talking to various entrepreneurs coming from different corners of the world – Japan, Argentina, Taiwan, Brazil, Czech, Hungarian, Uruguay, and Egypt.

At 6:00 pm the conference ended with 12 newly launched companies competing on the Startup Battlefield. Companies ranged from improving Virtual Reality gaming background to Data Analytics for indoor farming to educating 5-year olds to create a robot through intelligent toys. Tomorrow includes speakers from Facebook, Fitbit, GoPro, Pandora, and Y-Combinator talking on stage, and an afternoon comHeadshot_JW3pany visit at Google and Facebook. Exciting, isn’t it!

Jun Wang is a second year MBA candidate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Born and raised in China, Jun started her global citizenship by studying and working in Japan, Germany, and now the US.  Before coming to Smith, Jun was a Product Manager and Lead Auditor at a leading German technical inspection company and working with the United Nations in 11 different countries on renewables, energy efficiency, and waste management projects. Jun’s MBA focus is General Management and Entrepreneurship. Jun currently serves as the President of Professional Communications Club, VP of Smith Energy Association, Entrepreneurs-Club, and Smith Pride Alliance. She is also the Founder and President of the Smith MBA Toastmasters Club and the Campus Director of Hult Prize@ University of Maryland (in partnership with Clinton Global Initiative). Jun’s long-term goal is to launch a technology company across the globe to promote conscious consumerism and environmental sustainability.

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