Preparing for the 2015 AdVENTURE Challenge: CHINA

By Tiffany Chang

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Greetings from the air as I am currently writing from my flight to Shanghai! While I am headed to China a few days earlier than the rest of the AdVENTURE Challenge: China group to do some exploring, once the Smith MBA team lands, that’s when the real fun (and work!) begins.

Our journey starts in Shanghai where we will stay for three days experiencing tours, Chinese acrobatics, and visiting accelerators; then we take a train down to Bengbu to visit an incubator and Enelco Environmental Technology. Finally we culminate the rest of our trip with a China Business Model Competition in Beijing.

This trip sounds like a TON of fun but it’s also very much about good, hard work. Each one of us has prepared up until this point to work on a variety of new innovative ideas and business models that will be pitched in a business model competition with participating universities in China. With all the amazing pit stops to incubators, accelerators and historic landmarks that the Dingman Center has arranged for us, there’s only one major thing left to do to prepare for the trip! Continue reading

Terp Toolkit: Legal and Intellectual Property Tips for Entrepreneurs

There is no entrepreneur in the world who won’t need legal guidance at some point in their entrepreneurial journey.

For simple legal matters such as incorporation or basic start-up paperwork, services such as LegalZoom, LawDepot or RocketLawyer are a good place to start.

9400252-contract-for-business-law-on-terms-of-agreementHowever, for more complicated matters like establishing a Privacy Policy, Terms of Use Agreement, or other documents tailored to your business, it may be worth consulting an attorney. If you are running short of funds, you can utilize RocketLawyer’s “Ask a Lawyer” feature.  You can get the answers to simple questions for free and find lawyers near you that charge reasonable prices for their services. Continue reading

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Event Recap: 2015 Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

Each year, the Smith School of Business hosts leading and up-and-coming stars in entrepreneurship research from around the globe for a three-day academic research conference. This year celebrated the 11th anniversary of the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference, which was held from May 7-9, in Van Munching Hall at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The invitation only conference is co-chaired by Anil Gupta, the Michael D. Dingman Chair in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School, and David Kirsch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School.

The goal of the invitation-only event is to gather both junior and non-tenured faculty to present early stage entrepreneurship research to senior, tenured faculty for discussion and feedback — very similar to the way in which entrepreneurs constantly pitch their ideas, hear reactions and pivot. Continue reading

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Terp Toolkit: Financing Your Startup

Financing is a hurdle faced by nearly every entrepreneur and can the need for funding can occur at various stages of a company’s life cycle. It’s important to know what options are available, as well as the risks that come with each.

indexSome common methods of financing include:

  •  Friends & Family – Many early stage companies raise a “friends & family” round, relying on the networks of the startup’s founders for seed capital.
  • Crowdfunding – If you are selling a product or service that you think would appeal directly to consumers and you need capital to fund your business, consider crowdfunding as an option. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo , and  Gofundme allow you to post your “project” for viewing by thousands of potential funders in exchange for a percentage share of your money raised.images
  • Contests & Grants – A great way to get funds for your start-up without giving up equity is to apply to contests and grants. In this article Forbes offers some tips for those seeking grants.  A tip: follow entrepreneurship organizations and centers, accelerators, and VC firms / angel groups on social media for posts about local contests.
  • Small Business Loans – This option is most effective if you have been in business for a while and are generating some cash flow.  For those who meet these requirements, the Small Business Administration offers different types of loans to help you grow your business. angel2
  • Angel Investors – For early stage companies with an ability to scale quickly and high growth potential, there is the option of raising a round from angel investors. There are many angel investors, both individuals and groups, who invest ~$25B each year in early stage companies. Most angel deals are done with companies who have either successful beta testing or initial revenues. Deals range from straight equity to convertible notes.
  • Venture Capital Firms – For later stage start-ups with a proven track record of success who are seeking to reach the next level, raising venture capital funds can be the right next step. The total Venture Capital market is ~$45B, invested in a variety of industries and stages.  You can check out the VC100 for a look at the top 100 venture capital firms in the U.S. Researching the right firms for your company stage and industry is essential when raising VC funds.  Looking at the funding history for similar companies to yours on CrunchBase or AngelList  can be a good place to start your research.

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Smith Centers of Excellence and SERC to Present JOBS Act Panel: “How To Protect The Crowd In Crowdfunding”

It has been three years since Obama’s historic signing of the JOBS Act, which was enacted as a way to help small businesses, the lifeblood of job growth in the U.S., more easily obtain funding by easing securities regulations. Since 2012, the entrepreneurial community has eagerly awaited the SEC’s final guidance on the rules regarding crowdfunding.

It appears that the SEC is close to issuing rules on how the Act will affect equity investments of non-accredited investors in small businesses and startups, particularly through crowdfunding vehicles.

jobs-act-senate-passesOn Friday, May 8, the Smith School’s Center for Financial Policy, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference will host a panel discussion among experts from the academic, regulatory and entrepreneurial communities on how to regulate the industry in a way that protects investors from fraudulent activity while preserving the spirit of the JOBS Act.

The panel will be moderated by Brent Goldfarb, Academic Director at the Dingman Center and Associate Professor.

The panelists will include:

  • Wayne Kimmel, Founder and Managing Partner, Seventy-Six Capital
  • David Lynn, Partner, Morrison & Forester, and former Chief Counsel of the Division of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Ramana Nanda, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University
  • Brian Knight, Associate Director, Financial Policy, Center for Financial Markets, Milken Institute

The panel culminates the annual invitation-only Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference hosted by the University of Maryland, which is attended by faculty from leading academic institutions (e.g., Wharton, Stanford and MIT). Leading researchers and rising stars in entrepreneurship research gather to discuss relevant social, economic and organizational issues around entrepreneurship.

The crowdfunding panel is the only session open to the public. Join us for the event, which will be held in Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall at 3:30 on Friday, May 8. For more event details, please click here.

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Terp Toolkit: Accounting for Your Startup

When launching a business, often there are a variety of start-up costs to track. Being organized on the front-end with your startup’s finances will pay off in the long-run.

accounting_webThere are several tools at a variety of price points that will help you keep your financial records. Here are some startup-friendly resources: Continue reading

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Five Terp Startups Win $2,000 at the Cupid’s Cup Startup Showcase

The 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup Business Competition and Startup Showcase drew a sold-out crowd on April 22nd at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performance Arts Center.
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Before the finalists took the stage, more than a dozen Terp startups exhibited their ventures in the Startup Showcase where Cupid’s Cup attendees had a chance to check out some UMD’s most innovative companies. The Showcase was filled with live demos, customer interviews and even taste tests. Attendees had the chance to text-to-vote for the five coolest startups, who each won $2,000 from BB&T.
Congratulations to the following winners:
  • Vincent Bellitti, CareerPeer – CareerPeer is a career path selection and management tool for undergraduate students interested in a career in business.
  • Sanil Shah, Tabster – Tabster is a mobile application that allows customers to arrive at high-volume restaurants, check-in and pre-order their food while waiting.
  • Omar Goheer, K. Sultana – K. Sultana produces breathable scarves and creates entrepreneurship and skills development opportunities for women.
  • Zachary Matz, 417 App Studios LLC – Their social-gaming mobile application, Puzzable, allows users to send their photos to friends and family in the form of a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Tommy Johnson, VentureStorm – VentureStorm is an online platform that connects student entrepreneurs to student developers.

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Top 10 Reasons to Attend the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup

The wait is almost over… the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup business competition and Startup Showcase will be held this Wednesday, April 22 at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The Smith School of Business will host the competition in partnership with competition Chairman Kevin Plank ’96, founder & CEO of Under Armour.

There’s more than $115K in prizes on the line, and the finalists have been selected from some of the top student entrepreneurs in the world.

10001385_10152299454746897_640720858_nAs if you needed more incentive to be there, check out these 10 reasons to make sure you attend this signature #30DaysUMD event:
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Terp Toolkit: Marketing Your Startup

Startup marketing can involve a variety of different activities, from the creation of promotional materials to Search Engine Optimization. Given limited time and resources, particularly among student entrepreneurs, it can be overwhelming to think about where to start.

Your marketing focus will depend upon the nature of your business and your target customer. For a fairly comprehensive list of marketing tools and resources, for everything from Advertising to Analytics, check out The Essential List of Start-up Marketing Resources.

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Cupid’s Cup Startup Showcase to Feature Terp Founders

Cupid’s Cup is more than a competition — it’s a showcase of top entrepreneurial talent. Unique to this year’s showcase, participants are all University of Maryland student-run startups.

Who should attend? Entrepreneurs looking for advice. Investors looking for early-stage companies. And of course, students wondering what entrepreneurship is all about!

1403169_10152354076726692_2112121409411916732_oHere are the companies and founders that you’ll have a chance to meet at this year’s showcase:
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