Wrapping Up a Fantastic Semester at the Dingman Center

It’s that time of year. The stream of talented student entrepreneurs we’ve seen come through our doors begins to thin out with the arrival of finals, commencement and (at last!) winter break. But in the quiet of their absence, we can fondly reminisce on the outstanding semester we’ve had at the Dingman Center. In the past couple of months, we’ve seen a record amount of energy and engagement from the community in our programs. Read on for some of our favorite highlights from the semester.

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Entrepreneur-in-Residence: Rashad Moore

3184-cropThe Dingman Center is pleased to announce the addition of another successful founder, Rashad Moore, to our impressive group of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Rashad is excited to become more integrated into the Dingman community and to do what he enjoys most of all—helping young entrepreneurs. He started attending Dingman Fridays a few years ago and loved getting access to smart people with great ideas. He states, “Dingman is doing a lot of great stuff—if I had this in college, I may be further along.”

Rashad began his career in the defense industry in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., working for Northrop Grumman where he saw an unmet need for software engineers within the defense industry. After learning how to win government contracts while working for Clear Solutions, Rashad quickly realized it didn’t matter what company got the government bid, they would still come to him for software engineering.

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Good Food and Fun at the Yumpreneurship Showcase

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by: Megan McPherson

On December 7, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Smith School of Business Food Entrepreneurship Conference at University of Maryland’s Shady Grove campus for the first time. Each year, students in Smith’s Entrepreneurship Fellows program organize the event from start to finish, selecting a new name and seeking out new local vendors to feature their food products. This year the event was named the “YUMpreneurship Showcase”and with fifty diverse and delicious food vendors for attendees to sample from, it more than lived up to its title. For just a $10 charitable donation to Manna Food Center, attendees were able to eat one sample from each vendor and give gold coins to the ones they enjoyed the most. At the end of the night, the coins were counted to decide which vendor’s food was the tastiest.

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Introducing the Pitch Dingman Competition Finalists

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The Semifinal round of Pitch Dingman Competition saw its biggest turnout ever this year. Over 300 people packed into Frank Auditorium, popcorn in hand, to watch their friends and fellow students compete for the night’s award opportunities. With only 4 minutes to pitch and 2 minutes to answer questions from the judges, each semifinalist was tasked with communicating their story and value proposition in a short span of time. It was a tough competition, with each team giving an impressive showing. The five teams who made it to the Finals distinguished themselves through sound business models, impressive traction and a clear vision for building their startup. Read on below for a list of the finalists.

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Smith MBA Candidate Launches a Global Renewable Energy Startup

adegbiteb-18aug15-1In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we are taking at look at some of the global impact movers and shakers within our Terp network. Meet Babafemi Adegbite (or Femi as he’s known within Van Munching Hall) MBA ’17  who is launching a global social enterprise startup. The mission of his startup, ReEmpower, is to help alleviate global energy poverty through renewables while also empowering the communities it serves. More than 1 billion people worldwide, even those above the poverty line, lack access to energy which affects their ability to get clean water, medical care and education.

Growing up in Nigeria, Femi saw the effects of energy instability firsthand. Living in a world where women give birth in hospitals without power and children do their homework by dim candlelight, he saw a desperate need to solve this problem. While he was an undergraduate student, impact investing took off and Femi found inspiration from Jacqueline Novogratz’s book, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. Femi looked at the issue he wanted to tackle and worked backwards to guide his career toward that goal. He started working for Solar City, the number one solar installer in the United States. After four years of familiarizing himself with the solar industry, Femi decided to pursue an MBA so that he could start his own company.

Over the next year, Femi will be working to launch ReEmpower in Nigeria. Currently he is focused on customer acquisition, project development and of course the most challenging part—financing. Within the first few years, ReEmpower will focus on setting up solar power micro grids. Customers would range from government entities to individuals who will be able to pay-as-you-go based on income levels. Femi’s long-term goals for ReEmpower are to expand into other renewables and to enter new markets outside Nigeria.

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Bootstrapped Season 2 Opens with Social Venture MISFIT Juicery

From their dorm room at Georgetown University to the exclusive Chobani Food Incubator in New York City, the co-founders of MISFIT Juicery, Ann Yang and Phil Wong, are growing their food startup into a recognizable brand with a mission. MISFIT fights food waste by using discarded “ugly” fruits and vegetables to make their attractive and delicious line of cold-pressed juices.

To close out our Ladies First launch, co-hosts Elana Fine and Joe Bailey interviewed female founder Ann Yang and her co-founder Phil Wong about their journey as rising social entrepreneurs on the second season premiere of our Bootstrapped podcast. Listen below and subscribe on iTunes.

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Meet the 10 Semifinalists of Pitch Dingman Competition

After a rigorous quarterfinals judging process, the 10 semifinalists for this years Pitch Dingman Competition have been selected. University of Maryland alumni entrepreneurs, past Pitch Dingman Competition participants and Dingman Center staff judged each application on the basis of its existing traction, revenue model and viability. At the Semifinals on November 17 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall, they will pitch their businesses shark-tank style to a panel of esteemed judges, including Bill Boyle, Dingman Center Angel investor; Ryan Pillai of WeCook, last year’s Pitch Dingman Competition winner; Harry Alford, Managing Director of Humble Ventures; Zeki Mokhtarzada, former co-founder of Webs, Inc. and Chief Architect of Digital Products at Vistaprint; and Julianna Neelbauer, former Dingman Center legal advisor and current COO of Ad Hoc LLC.

Sign up to watch what is sure to be a close competition between 10 exemplary student startups at UMD.

We are proud to announce the 10 semifinalists:

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An Interview with Amritha Jayanti, the Founder of Technica

This post is part of a blog series for the launch of Ladies First, the Dingman Center’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

Ladies First isn’t the only initiative at University of Maryland that is breaking down gender inequality—this weekend marks the second year of Technica, UMD’s all-female hackathon, a student-run event that has garnered national attention. Young women in tech from all over the country flock to Technica, and its list of corporate sponsors includes tech giants like Facebook and Yelp. This year, the Technica team added a “Tech + X” week of workshops and panels leading up to the hackathon to help women better prepare for the weekend ahead. Last night, the Dingman Center contributed its network to a panel on Tech + Social Entrepreneurship, which examined how technology can generate social impact. We spoke with Amritha Jayanti ’18, the founder of Technica, about her vision for the hackathon.

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Reflections from the Ladies First Kickoff Dinner

This post is part of a blog series for the launch of Ladies First, the Dingman Center’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

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by: Nina Silverstein MBA ’17

Last week the Ladies First Kickoff Dinner brought together over 85 current and aspiring female changemakers at the University of Maryland. Ladies First is an initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship by creating and empowering a community of changemakers across campus. I was inspired to see so many young women in attendance to hear impactful stories and insights from the panelists.

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Introducing the Fall 2016 Idea Shell Cohort

Each semester, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship runs a 6-week long program called Idea Shell, the first phase of our Fearless Founders Accelerator. Using lean startup methodology, students are encouraged to perform numerous customer interviews and continuously pivot on their idea as they work toward launching their startup.

This fall saw two major changes to the Idea Shell formula. The first was the addition of new our two-day idea festival, spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start, the weekend prior to the first Idea Shell workshop on October 12. Of the students currently enrolled in Idea Shell, 25% came to spark and left with an idea for a problem they wanted to solve. The second major change is the input of our new Student & Venture Program Manager, Chris Rehkamp, who debuted as the instructor of Terp Startup this summer and has been a welcoming fixture at Dingman Fridays this fall.

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