Celebrating Entrepreneurship Day in Van Munching Hall

By: Eric Elliot

The Dingman Center is lucky to be a part of a fantastic community filled with motivated student and alumni entrepreneurs. To celebrate this strong spirit of entrepreneurship at UMD, we hosted Entrepreneurship Day on Tuesday, April 17, which featured student startups at Terp Marketplace during the afternoon and serial technology entrepreneur Raul Fernandez at the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series later that evening.

Terp Marketplace

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Terp Marketplace was an opportunity for student startups to showcase and sell their products & services directly to the Smith community. This semester, we had a huge turnout from students, staff, faculty and alumni who were eager to see the 30 startups on display. A few participants featured included Pitch Dingman Competition second place winner Brianna Queen ’18 of BEEQBOX with her popular F*ckboy Repellent illuminating setting spray, and alumni startup FroDoh, who brought samples of their tasty frozen doughnut holes. The students who participated have taken part in our Fearless Founders Accelerator program, Ladies First Founders or Professor David Kressler’s 461 Entrepreneurship class.

Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series featuring Raul Fernandez

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UMD alumnus and highly successful entrepreneur Raul Fernandez ’90 traveled to Van Munching Hall for an intimate conversation with Robert Hisaoka ’79 on his experiences in entrepreneurship. As the former founder of Proxicom and currently the Vice Chairman and Owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Raul shared some of the key lessons he learned through his journey and valuable pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Reflecting on the Ladies First: Dolphin Tank with Springboard Enterprises

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by: Karolyn Maynard MBA ’18

On Tuesday, April 3, Springboard Enterprises brought Dolphin Tank to the University of Maryland, in collaboration with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s ‘Ladies First’ initiative. The Ladies First initiative is a commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.

Now, as a self-professed ‘Shark Tank’ lover, I truly love learning about entrepreneurs’ ventures and hearing the critical feedback from the ‘sharks’ across market size, valuation and true opportunity for growth. In fact, after continued viewing, I found myself often adopting the role of an investor, asking the questions from the comfort of my living room and feeling quite good about anticipating the concerns or questions that an investor might have.

That’s my version of a fun night sometimes; What can I say? I love entrepreneurship in all forms.

So when I heard Springboard Enterprises was bringing Dolphin Tank to campus, I, naturally, jumped at the chance to swim with the sharks – or dolphins.

Springboard Enterprises describes Dolphin Tank as “helpful feedback-driven pitch sessions for entrepreneurs to receive constructive insights from knowledgeable professionals. Dolphin Tanks aren’t about sharks, piranhas, dragons, or competing for the best idea – they’re about channeling the expertise of the people in the room. The Dolphin Tank is an interactive discussion led by an expert panel that focuses on one thing: “How can we help?” 

After attending my very first Dolphin Tank, I was impressed with the willingness of the attendees in the room to not only provide constructive feedback, but to provide connections also.

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10 Things to Know About Raul Fernandez

by: Eric Elliot

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The next Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series takes place on April 17 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium and will feature UMD alumnus Raul Fernandez ’90, the current Vice Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Click here to register for the event and read on for some interesting facts about this successful entrepreneur and philanthropist!

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An Inside Look at the Inaugural Ladies First Founders Cohort

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From left: Audrey Awasom, Yinyin Lao, Megha Guggari, Maria Chen, Natalie Urban, Breonna Massey, Sydney Parker, Jess Rosenthal, Jasmine Snead, Fiona Whitefield, Sara Herald

by: Megan McPherson

This semester, something truly remarkable is happening on Monday afternoons in the Smith School’s executive board room. Sitting around the room’s imposing conference table are the inaugural Ladies First Founders cohort, ten young women united by their experiences as female entrepreneurs. At the head of the table sits adjunct professor Sara Herald, the Dingman Center’s Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship and founder of the Ladies First initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. Yesterday, I was offered the privilege to sit in on the class and discover what Ladies First Founders is all about. What started out as an observational study for a blog post became an empowering exercise in what can happen when women are given a platform to learn from and support one another.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: BEEQBOX

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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BEEQBOX

Brianna Queen, Founder & CEO

beelogo.pngJunior Information Science major Brianna Queen is the founder of BEEQBOX, a makeup brand targeted to millennials that sells illuminating setting sprays, glitter eyeshadow and lip palettes. Brianna started BEEQBOX in August 2016 as a subscription box service featuring black-owned makeup brands. Once she started getting orders, she decided to work on formulating a product of her own to include. That November, some negative personal experiences gave her the idea to create BEEQBOX’s flagship product, “F*ckboy Repellent”, an illuminating setting spray with packaging that promises its contents are vegan, cruelty-free, all-natural, and will also ward off advances from unworthy men. After sharing a photo of her product on social media it went viral, and was soon featured by popular style sites like Revelist and Instagram influencers who were excited to promote such an on-trend product. As Brianna prepares for Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, she’s looking to take her business to the next level.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Emprology

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Emprology

Sydney Parker, Founder & CEO

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Senior communications major Sydney Parker is the founder, CEO and “Empress” of Emprology, an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate black female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize their content. Sydney, who built her social media credentials through multiple Facebook internships, started Emprology as a service that provided her customers with one-on-one consultations, marketing plans and creative assets to enhance their brand presence. With some concerns about overtaxing her own bandwidth, she recently launched a school for aspiring influencers called #BrandBoss Academy. As part of this school model,  established macro-influencers teach classes and provide mentorship to aspiring influencers, who pay an appropriate fee for the privilege. Sydney has been developing Emprology since spring 2017, when she first entered the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders Accelerator. Through grit and determination, Sydney has built Emprology into a one-stop-shop for black women who want to learn how to make a living off of their passions.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Flee

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Flee

Didac Hormiga, Founder & CEO

bluepngflee.pngUniversity of Maryland junior Didac Hormiga is the founder of mobile app Flee, which stands for “Finding Local Events and Entertainment.” Didac is a marketing and information systems double-major with a minor in technology entrepreneurship, but is also a former YouTube content creator (with over 1,000,000 views) and current LinkedIn Campus Editor. Didac’s marketing and social media background is complemented by the app development skills of his CTO, Ian Sawyer, whom he met while interning at Talk Local. Together, they have successfully beta-tested an events app targeted to college students that has what it takes to compete with the limited events functionality pasted onto popular social media platforms. The app currently contains over 200,000 events from both local partners and larger event providers such as Eventbrite and Ticketmaster, with convenient options for discounts, on-site payment (through Venmo or Paypal) and transportation to venues. Between enrolling in the Terp Startup phase of the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders Accelerator and pitching at Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, Didac and Ian have continued to develop their app based on customer feedback, and are poised to imminently launch a massive contender in the social events app space.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Symbiont Health

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Erich Meissner, CEO; Maria Chen, CMO; Kyle Liu, CTO

Symbiont Health

Erich Meissner, CEO
Maria Chen, CMO
Kyle Liu, CTO

Logo&Slogan.pngSenior electrical engineering major Erich Meissner came up with the idea for a new kind of wearable fall detection device after his grandmother experienced a fall. He learned from her doctor that over 40% of senior falls are due to syncopy, a sudden loss of consciousness, which isn’t solved by common fall notification systems like Life Alert that require users to press a button. Furthermore, his grandmother had a Life Alert but wasn’t wearing it at the time—many seniors feel these devices carry an unwanted stigma advertising their loss of independence. Teaming up with junior pre-med student Maria Chen and sophomore computer science major Kyle Liu, Erich launched Symbiont Health to tackle the issue of unconscious elderly falls. In 2017, they competed in the Do Good Challenge and took second place in the Ventures track, then participated in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders Accelerator. Leading up to Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, Symbiont Health has tested more subtle wearable devices as well as WiFi Mesh Networking solutions to detect falls.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Dark Sonar Technologies

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Dark Sonar Technologies

George Lee, Founder & CEO

DarkSonarLogoGeorge Lee, a senior finance major at University of Maryland, came up with the idea for Dark Sonar when he encountered synthetic identity fraud while trying to run his first business, an incentivized advertising website called rewardslive. When he realized that the only available cybersecurity services on the market were too expensive for the size of his business, he decided to develop his own solutions. This experience led to George launching Dark Sonar, a cybersecurity service that is both simple to integrate and affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. Since founding Dark Sonar, George Lee has been accepted into Startup Shell and has participated in the Hatch and Terp Startup phases of the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders Accelerator. Dark Sonar has attracted customers across a variety of industries, and looks to continue to innovate by expanding to prevent theft and fraud in cryptocurrency and blockchain.

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Key Takeaways from the Hisaoka Speaker Series Young Founders Panel

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From left: Moderator, Robert Hisaoka; Bradley Deyo; Brandon Deyo; Evan Lutz; Ali von Paris

By: Eric Elliot

On Tuesday, February 13, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the second event in our Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series, a Young Founders Panel which featured four successful entrepreneurs who launched their ventures as students. In a panel moderated by Robert Hisaoka, Ali von Paris ’12, Evan Lutz ’14, Brandon Deyo and Bradley Deyo shared some of the insights they learned along with the challenges they faced turning their dorm room ventures into thriving businesses.

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