Congratulations to the 2016 Student Entrepreneur Grant Winners

Each year, the Dingman Center sees many aspiring student entrepreneurs pass through its doors. Students that participate in our Fearless Founders accelerator program and Dingman Fridays advising hours have an opportunity to grow their companies at a rapid rate, but as with anything, willpower prevails. To those students who have shown a particularly strong level of dedication and commitment to their entrepreneurial endeavors, we are able to award seed funding through our Capital One and Venture Well sponsored grants:

Capital One Grant:CapitalOne_Logo_06_02_14

For several years, Capital One has been an
ever-loyal supporter and sponsor of student entrepreneurs. With our Capital One MVP grants of $500 and our larger grants of $2,500 for those who have completed the Hatch course in Fearless Founders, recipients are enabled to take their business ideas to a new level of growth and possibility.

This year’s winners are:

Capital One MVP
Teddy Li, Tixel Labs – a data analytics company that aims to provide smarter inventory management for restaurants
Carlouie Nievera, Carlouie & Company – a retro fashion line inspired by the ’90s looks of Saved by the Bell and Fresh Prince of Bell Air
David Potter, Abb Kapoor and Giorgi Managadze, Curu – an app that provides tools and tricks for smarter credit management
Thomas Rivas-Siles, Vendoo – an app that allows online sellers to access multiple marketplaces from one convenient location
Davit Sargsyan, Sunset Sangria – an American-produced sangria company and lifestyle brand
Victoria Tataw, Nails by Tataw – a vegan, 5-free and cruelty-free nail polish brand
Oru Wonodi , NOVA Prints & Apparel – a globally conscious fashion line with a mission to supply aid to individuals in developing countries

Capital One Grant: Hatch
Dustin Ecton, TapTimeTV – a customizable entertainment and advertising channel for bars and restaurants
Sumanth Jinagouda, SpotThis – a fashion discovery service that helps you find outfits based on images you can upload

Capital One Grant: Idea Shell
Danielle Karpa – a mobile app that provides incentives for better driving practices
Nathalyn Nunoo, William Kwao, Elania Tait, and Saron Bizuayehu, POSH – a beauty and makeup consultation service

VentureWell Grant:VentureWell_logo_stacked

VentureWell is a higher education network that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. Their grants of $500 each are given to students with promising startup ideas who have shown outstanding commitment to furthering their business.

This year’s winners are:

Saron Asfaw, East Habesha – an online clothing store and cultural destination for East African wares
Philemon Masewal, Q – an app that allows you to pay a fee to reserve a bar seat during peak hours
Shyon Parsadoust, RollaWire – a wireless headphone alternative to unreliable bluetooth options
Aaron Pludwinski, Kanvasroom – an online platform for creatives across industries to collaborate on projects

Congratulations on your hard work, everyone!

Learn more about the Fearless Founders program on the Dingman Center website.

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Dingman EIR Disrupts the Real Estate Industry with Latest Venture, iUnit

 

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UPDATE – Recently, we caught up with Brice to get a few updates on iUnit. Within the next few weeks, iUnit will deliver to tenants the first project and MVP. This video gives the viewer a glimpse into the construction process and community amenities. In additional news, iUnit is expanding its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the world’s largest research centers focused on energy efficiency. The iUnit prototype will be housed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility where it will be used in testing everything from materials used to build the iUnit to energy efficient mechanical systems like iUnits battery and software systems.

It’s an exciting time for Brice and his team. To put a finer point on the company’s progress, Brice commented “iUnit is essentially the electric car of housing.”


February 4, 2015 – Envision the Prius of apartment buildings: wired with the latest “smart” technology, environmentally friendly, affordable, cool. That’s exactly what lifelong entrepreneur Brice Leconte delivers in his latest venture, iUnit.

Brice is one of the Dingman Center’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs-In-Residence), who help UMD students realize their entrepreneurial ideas during the Dingman Center’s weekly Dingman Fridays sessions. A long-time entrepreneur, Brice has a passion for disrupting industries and building socially active companies. He has started and invested in a wide range of businesses, from real estate development, to bricks and mortar, to e-commerce and tech startups. Today, he is focused on disrupting the real estate industry with his latest brand, iUnit.

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Celebrating the 2nd Annual Rudy Awards

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More than 100 entrepreneurs, advisers, investors, students and alumni gathered on May 5, 2016 for our second annual Rudy Awards ceremony. This year’s Awards were especially meaningful, as they marked the 30th anniversary of the Dingman Center and its community. Prime movers in the history of the Center were in attendance, including founding donor Michael Dingman and his family, along with first director Charlie Heller and former director Asher Epstein. Under their lasting influence, the Dingman Center network has grown many new branches. The Rudy Awards are not only a way to honor members of each branch, but to allow the entire Dingman center community to celebrate with each other, united in their passion for entrepreneurship. Congratulations to the following award winners.

2016 Rudy Awards Winners

Research Honors

Yang Pan PhD ’17 – Winner
Yuan Shi PhD ’18 – Winner

Faculty Award

David Kressler Winner
Joseph Bailey
Evan Starr

Mentor of the Year

Polly Vail – Winner
Drew Bewick ’88
Paul Capriolo ’06
Bob London ’83
Rashad Moore

Angel Investor of the Year

Bill Boyle ’81 – Winner
Hilton Augustine
Joshua Goldberg
Vadim Polikov

Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year

Ali von Paris ’12, Route One ApparelWinner
Eric Golman ’15, Javazen
Matt Furstenburg ’11, Grip Boost
Evan Lutz ’14, Hungry Harvest
Manpreet Singh ’03, TalkLocal

Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Alexis Carson ’16, Cocoa Queens Winner
Nadia Laniyan ’16, Cocoa Queens Winner
Robin Chiddo ’06, Love Blanket Project
Anastasiia Polyakov ’17, Annie’s Children
Oru Wonodi ’18, NOVA Prints and Apparel

Student Entrepreneur of the Year

Sam Feldman ’16, Cardbuddy Winner
Damar Bess ’18, Nonich
Taylor Johnson ’16, VentureStorm
Tommy Johnson ’16, VentureStorm
Ryan Pillai ’17, WeCook
Daniel Stern ’16, Route One Ventures

Terp Toolkit: Incorporating Social Impact into Your Business Model

by: Sara Herald

Social impact, long considered to be the exclusive territory of nonprofits, is becoming an integral part of for-profit businesses across the globe.  From huge corporations like Unilever to local startups like Misfit Juicery, generating both profits and social good is gaining acceptance as good business practice.

This shift isn’t necessarily based in moral arguments such as “it’s the right thing to do”, but rather in solid business fundamentals: that’s what customers want.  As more and more Millennials enter adulthood, they want to start up, work at, and buy from companies working to achieve social good.  84% of Millennials “consider a company’s involvement in social causes in deciding what to buy or where to shop” and they report “increased trust (91%) and loyalty (89%) in…companies that support solutions to specific social issues.”

If Millennials expect companies they engage with to have more than one bottom line, how can aspiring entrepreneurs of all kinds deliver on those expectations? The key lies in moving from a donations mindset to an operations mindset.
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6 things we learned at Do Good Challenge Finals

By: Megan McPherson

The positive energy at last night’s Do Good Challenge was palpable. From the showcase to the finalist pitches to the panel of past Do Good competitors, it was clear that every person  there was united by a passion for driving social change. Do Good delivered not only excellent pitches but also an informative platform for discussing the unique challenges and rewards of social entrepreneurship. Here are some takeaways:

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6 finalists remain after the Do Good Challenge Semifinals

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By: Megan McPherson

The small classroom setting of the Do Good Challenge Semifinals felt intimate and understated, but the passion of each student shined just as brightly in that classroom as it may have on some grand stage. As each team pitched their eight weeks of social impact to the judges panel, I tried in vain to capture the morning’s energy with numerous photographs and tweets.

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A Look Back at the 2016 Cupid’s Cup

By: Justin Taubman ’16 MBA Candidate

On Thursday, April 7th, Kevin Plank ’96, Founder and CEO of Under Armour, returned to the University of Maryland to host the 11th annual Cupid’s Cup Entrepreneurship Competition. This was my second time attending the event and Mr. Plank continues to outdo himself by bringing in celebrity judges like Dan Gilbert, Wes Moore, and Arianna Huffington to evaluate the exceptional pitches of six finalists. The finalists emerged from a pool of over 500 applicants representing over 100 schools and made it through several rounds of screening to the main event where they competed for $100,000 in cash prizes.

The event started at 2:00 p.m. in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with a Startup Showcase of UMD’s top student entrepreneurs and their businesses. Among the startups in the showcase were many of the finalists from the Pitch Dingman Competition such as uBoard and WeCook as well as many other friends of the Dingman Center like Spot This and Meta Cartel

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After touring all the booths, I ended up throwing on a Spot This t-shirt and joining my classmates to help collect email addresses to invite users to join their beta. The crowd was very curious about their product and happy to get involved in the testing. The energy and excitement in the atmosphere was palpable, but this was just an appetizer leading up to the main event that would start at 4:00 p.m.

The show kicked off with the professional MC Christian Crosby, Live Events Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers who introduced Plank to the crowd of over a thousand. Mr. Plank recounted his days at the University of Maryland as a student athlete and his rose delivery business that helped him raise the seed money to start Under Armour after graduating. After introducing the judges, the competition began.

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Kevin Plank ’96 introducing judges

The competition was comprised of six finalists, all with incredibly unique businesses that were all generating substantial revenue. Headbands of Hope kicked things off by pitching their stylish headband company with a social angle to help children with cancer. Then the University of Maryland’s own Javazen got the hometown crowd fired up in their presentation. The unique box membership company MyBestBox did an impressive job explaining how their customized boxes can help customers live more healthy lives. The youngest entrepreneur in the finals was the founder of Plova Chewing Gum, who introduced us to the world’s first beneficial oral care product in the form of gum. The founder of Six Foods had an infectious energy that got Kevin Plank to eat her Chirp Chips, tortilla chips made with crickets. The last pitch was by Wolf & Shepherd the sleek dress shoe company with the technology of running shoes.

The judges certainly had their work cut out for them. Ultimately there could only be one winner of the Cup. After much deliberation the judges emerged from backstage and handed out some impressive $5,000 consolation prizes to Plova and MyBestBox. SixFoods was awarded $25,000 for second-place. The first-place prize of $75,000, their name on the Cup, and access to Kevin Plank’s network was awarded to our very own Javazen! We are all very proud of Ryan, Eric, and Aaron at the Dingman Center and hope that their success continues and also that it inspires other student entrepreneurs at University of Maryland.

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A Preview of the Cupid’s Cup Startup Showcase

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Cupid’s Cup is tomorrow, and we’re all excited to watch UMD and Terp Startup alum Javazen compete for the prize of $100,000. But before the main event starts at 4 p.m., there is a wonderful opportunity to see some rising stars of the UMD startup community at the Cupid’s Cup Showcase at 2 p.m. Who knows, one day they may be competing in Cupid’s Cup themselves. Here’s a sneak peek of the impressive startups and their founders you can expect to see there:

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An open letter to aspiring female entrepreneurs

By: Julia Klein

Have you ever identified a problem and thought to yourself, “Someone should invent something that solves this?” Have you ever thought to yourself, “I have a better way of doing this?”

If you answered yes, you may not have realized it at the time, but you were thinking like an entrepreneur. Maybe you seized the moment and brought your idea to life but, more likely, you made an excuse for why being an entrepreneur wasn’t right for you. I know this because, before taking the leap and starting my business, I navigated through miles of these same excuses.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common objections raised by potential female founders:

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Female Fearless Founders Featurette

In honor of Smith Women’s Week, we would like to highlight some recent past and present female participants of our Fearless Founders student accelerator program. We are immensely proud to have worked with these young women and to have been given the opportunity to help them grow their startups.

 

East Habesha – Saron Asfaw
habesha

Saron Asfaw ’18 started East Habesha in our Idea Shell stage, where she won a $500 MVP grant from Capital One to build her startup. She is currently working on further improving her business as a member of the Spring 2016 Hatch cohort. East Habesha is a website that sells custom Ethiopian dresses and food spices to customers in the DC metropolitan area. There is a large population of Ethiopians in the DC metropolitan area and there are many vendors that supply these necessities. What differentiates East Habesha from its competitors is that the prices are low but the quality is high. We look forward to seeing East Habesha grow as it continues to gain traction in the community.

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