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.

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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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CardBuddy: A Stylish Solution to Stick-on Phone Wallets

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 2016 Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Annual Rudy Awards at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at University of Maryland in College Park MD, photographed 5 May 2016.I am still relatively new to the Dingman Center, so when Sam Feldman was called to the stage at this year’s Rudy Awards to accept his award for Student Entrepreneur of the Year, I could not fully appreciate how deserving he was of the title. After talking with him more at Terp Startup and interviewing him for this blog post, I would like to give my full, ringing endorsement of Sam, not only for his accomplishments as an entrepreneur but for his strength of character.

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Encouraging Sustainability in the Dominican Republic

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.

After weeks of preparation, filled with excitement for the upcoming trip, we finally landed in the airport of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We were greeted by program coordinators who took us straight to the hostel for a night.DRbus

After spending the night in the hostel, the bus took us to our work site in the region of El Seibo. El Seibo is a small town with one central avenue and many friendly neighborhoods just off the avenue. Each neighborhood has a distinct architectural appearance but nonetheless, the people of each community were similarly nice to us.

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Curu and the Art of Credit Management

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.

Everyone knows good credit is highly important in life. Not everyone knows how to get it. While most college-bound young people are aware that they should establish good credit as soon as possible, there are surprisingly few resources to help them. Parental advice and uninformed Google searches can only go so far in providing college students with a nuanced understanding of how credit works and what steps they can take to improve their credit score. So how can they acquire that essential knowledge?

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Consulting and Campaigning in Pulingui, 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.

I just got back from spending two weeks in a small Ecuadorian town called Pulingui. It’s a wonderful community, with ridiculously friendly families who all grow/raise the majority of their food. Here’s a great picture taken by a fellow intern to give you an idea of what the community looks like:

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CourseHunter: The Answer to Frustrating College Registration Systems

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.

Every college student is familiar with how maddening registering for classes can be, especially when you don’t have the luxury of first dibs. Freshmen in particular are assigned a lower priority, so if you can’t manage to get into a class you need—even if it’s for your intended major—you are faced with having to reexamine your entire four year plan. The co-founder of CourseHunter, Benjamin Khakshoor, encountered just this dilemma when he was turned away from an essential introductory Computer Science class in his first semester at University of Maryland. Instead of giving up on the class, Benjamin wrote a program that would analyze UMD’s registration system, Testudo, and notify him when the class had an empty seat. It worked. After he told friends what happened, he received a surge of requests for help getting into classes.CourseHunterLogo

Enter Benjamin’s roommate and fellow Computer Science major, Aaron Bloch. Seeing a business opportunity, Aaron created a Facebook page to monitor incoming requests to use the program. The program’s appeal to students is understandable, according to Aaron, “We’ve gotten people ahead of 150 person waitlists.” Through word of mouth alone, the demand quickly became overwhelming, so they decided to automate: they built their own website for the program, and thus CourseHunter 1.0 was born.

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Touring Local Shops in Principal, 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.

Ecuador is a beautiful country with unbelievably rich culture. We visited a town called Principal that is about two and half hours from our home base in Cuenca. This was my first taste of the kind of communities that we are going to be working with in our two other locations.

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A Round of Golf with the Dingman Center Angels and Baltimore Angels

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On June 8, the Dingman Center Angels ended their 2015-2016 investment year. This year, the Baltimore Angels were also extended an invitation to the final investor meeting and annual golf event. In the morning, the investors reviewed a strong lineup of startup companies including Cybrary, Devensoft, InHerSight, Inky and Zoobean. After some engaging discussions and light lunch networking, the Dingman Center Angels and Baltimore Angels joined the Dingman Center team for a round of golf.

Each group played a 4-man scramble, so both early stage and mature golfers had opportunities to shine. Closest to the pin and longest drive contests on the 8th and 9th hole kept things interesting for the more competitive players. The positive energy of the morning investor meeting coupled with the beautiful weather made for a relaxing, fun afternoon. We hope that even more players will sign up for next year’s golf event. Angels, have a great summer and we’ll see you in the fall!


Interested in joining the Dingman Center Angels? Find out more on the Dingman Center website.

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Microconsignment and Empathy 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.

Hi! My name is Ted Falk and I’m a rising senior at UMD with a major in marketing and a minor in Spanish. This summer, I’m living in Ecuador as an intern with the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). I’ve only been here for a week, but it’s felt like a year’s worth of experiences. Here I am in a small indigenous town we visited yesterday, called Principal:

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