Lessons from TOMS Shoes at the Social Enterprise Symposium

By Danielle Bennings

Shira Shafir, director of Social Innovation and Impact at TOMS Shoes

Shira Shafir, Director of Social Innovation and Impact at TOMS Shoes

Last week the Center for Social Value Creation hosted the 7th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium; one of the largest annual events at the University of Maryland. Students, faculty and staff from across campus gathered for a day of interactive sessions, panel discussions and workshops centered around social, environmental and economic change. One of the most exciting aspects of the day was the morning keynote from Shira Shafir, Director of Social Innovation and Impact at TOMS Shoes. Her talk focused on the evolution of TOMS as an organization and their mission to use business to improve lives. Keep reading for highlights from the talk.

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College Park, MD – February 24, 2015 – Twelve startups have been selected from nearly 200 worldwide entries to advance to the semifinal round in the Tenth Annual Cupid’s Cup Business Competition, presented by Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The entrepreneurs will present on March 10 at Under Armour’s global headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. The top five startups will compete for $115,000 in total prizes at the final round to be held April 22 at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Semifinalists will travel from across the country and Canada to spend the day pitching their businesses and interviewing with the investors, entrepreneurship experts, and Under Armour executives who will serve as judges. Plank and the judges will narrow the applicant pool to five finalists who will compete for a transformative prize package including $115,000 in total cash prizes ($75,000 for the grand-prize winner), coaching from a team of successful entrepreneurs, and the prestigious Cupid’s Cup.

The twelve semifinalists represent 11 universities and a broad range of industries. They are:

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Finalists Announced for Spring Pitch Dingman Competition: RSVP Today

CaptureOn March 4th, five Terp start-ups will compete for $3,500 in funding at the semi-annual Pitch Dingman Competition, which will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall. The finalists will each have 6 minutes to pitch their business before the UMD community.

An all-star panel of judges will select the most promising companies to walk away with the cash prizes.  The audience will also have the chance to text-to-vote for their favorite company and award them the $500 Audience Choice Award. Make sure you register to attend and bring a friend to cast your votes at the competition!

Meet the finalists:

417 App Studio
Ghedalia Gold-Pastor, Mechanical Engineer (Fall 2016)

417 App Studios’ Puzzable is a social gaming mobile application ​that allows​ users to send pictures with a personalized message ​in the form of a jigsaw puzzle.

​​Auris Innovations
David Kriesberg, Mechanical Engineer (Fall 2016)
Ethan Reggia, Mechanical Engineer (Spring 2016)

​T​he Auris Project has created a ​inexpensive, comfortable, stylish solution to unsteady earphones​ during physical activity​. Auris Sport Attachments will secure any type of earphones so that you can focus on your performance, and not your ears.

Erika Binsley, D.M.A. French Horn Performance (Spring 2017)

Savorfying bars are the world’s first savory protein bars to contain seventeen grams of high-quality protein per serving and no added sugar. They were created to help people save time and money, while providing superior nutrition and delicious flavors.

Sanil Shah – Government and Politics with Technology Entrepreneurship (Spring 2016)
Nick Bentley – Criminal Justice with Technology Entrepreneurship (Spring 2017)
Adi Ayyakad – Computer Science and Linguistics with Technology Entrepreneurship (Spring 2017)
Kanay Patel – Mechanical Engineering with Engineering Leadership Development (Spring 2016)

Tabster is a mobile application that is redefining the restaurant experience by allowing customers to check-in and pre-order their food while waiting to be seated.

Elakian Kanakaraj, Computer Engineering (May 2016)
Avinash Satish, Finance and International Business (May 2016)
Karan Singh, Finance and Information Systems (May 2016)
Brandon Azzi, Finance and Information Systems (May 2016)
Evan Qi, Computer Engineering (May 2016)

​​Victus is a mobile application that allows users to request food to be delivered from restaurants within their local area. Users log onto the application and select what they wish to order while the deliverers can access these requests and choose whether to accept one. If accepted, wallets and taste buds are filled simultaneously.

The judges will include:

Asher Epstein, COO, Access Health Group
Harry Geller, Entrepreneur in Residence, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
Liz Sara, CEO, Best Marketing LLC
Mark Walsh, Founder & CEO, Genius Rocket
Tien Wong, CEO, Opus8, Inc.

Support your fellow Terps and register to attend today at ter.ps/March4​.

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Entrepreneurship Meets Impact at UMD’s Social Enterprise Symposium: RSVP Today!

The Social Enterprise Symposium (SES) is one of the largest annual events on the University of Maryland’s campus that focuses on interactive learning and entrepreneurial thinking with a social impact mindset. Created and hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC), the February 27 event will bring together students, faculty and business leaders from across the region to explore positive social, environmental and economic change through a variety of lenses.

“SES is important to the UMD community because it welcomes faculty and staff from all disciplines to explore how business (and business principles) can help advance economic, social, and environmental well being,” said Kim Glinka, Associate Director at the Center for Social Value Creation. “This year in particular we’ve partnered with academic allies to explore these topics through specific academic lenses. Partners in the School of Public Policy, Arts and Humanities, Behavioral and Social Sciences, and the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will each lead workshops and breakout sessions.”

This year, UMD and the CSVC are thrilled to welcome Shira Shafir, Director of Social Impact at TOMS Shoes as the keynote speaker. (BTW, word on the street is that discount coupons for TOMS products will be handed out before Shira Shafir’s morning presentation! You won’t want to miss it!)


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Thinking about applying to a business competition? Five tips from Elana Fine

For b-schools, incubators and other organizations that support startups, business competitions are very hot right now. For entrepreneurs, they can be great opportunities to flex your entrepreneurial muscles and gain traction for your startup or business idea.

CC-04Apr14-635_hr However, with a seemingly endless list of competitions to choose from and limited time, how do you decide which competitions to enter?

Here are five things to consider from Dingman Center Managing Director, Elana Fine:

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

iunit3Envision 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 Pitch Dingman 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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Announcing the Spring 2015 Hatch Cohort

Each semester, students from across campus apply to the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders program. The by-application-only courses consist of three stages: Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup. True the name of each stage, the Fearless Founders program guides student ventures from idea to launch.

fearless founders stamp

This spring, 24 students were selected to participate in Hatch program, where they will build and test their business ideas using the Lean Launchpad methodology. Once the course has been completed, the Hatch cohort will be eligible for up to $1500 in seed funding.

What kinds of ventures can we expect from this year’s cohort? Here are “elevator pitches” from two students:

“My company, VR Madras, is developing high quality men’s shirts to ‘re-invent’ the classic button-down to provide an affordable and unique casual shirt for men by contrasting sleeve pattern colors and designs.”  – Vishwant Tatagari, VR Madras

“CrabShell cases provides high quality, customized laser engraved, affordable phone cases to clubs, greek life, and organizations in the UMD community. Our product lets people represent their organization in a unique and intriguing way.”  – Adam Vinner, CrabShell

Below is a complete list of the spring Hatch cohort and their ventures. For more information on the Fearless Founders program and how to apply, please click here.

Nicholas Aversano
Bethany Monaghan
Bethany’s Organics
Cody Branchaw
Kanga Trash
Bryce Peterson
Omar Goheer
K. Sultana
Sanil Shah
Jordan Greenwald
Meta Cartel
William Botz
Brand It Marketing
Jerome Kelman
Venture Storm
Tommy Johnson
Venture Storm
Mike Mandl
Ghedalia Gold-Pastor
Ephraim Rothschild
Venture Storm
Damar Bess
Brandon Schwab
Emily Peet
Spread the Love
Vishwant Tatagari
V.R. Madras
Alex Jain
Adam Vinner
Crab Shell
Sade Cosby
Sadenise Clothing Boutique
Anthony Valle
Kevin Fomengia
College Campus Concierge
Ayana Cotton
Star Child Studio
Taylor Johnson
Venture Storm
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Welcome back, Terps!

We hope everyone had a happy holiday season and is refreshed for a productive spring semester at Van Munching Hall.

The Dingman Center is hosting many exciting entrepreneurship events and programs this spring. Here are a few you don’t want to miss!

The 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup

cupidscupAn impressive 197 applications were submitted from 93 universities around the globe for the 10th Annual Cupid’s Cup competition, chaired by Under Armour CEO and Terp alumnus, Kevin Plank.

The applications — which hailed from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Greece, Nigeria, and beyond — are now undergoing the initial review process. Judges will select 12 applicants to advance to the semifinals on March 12. Watch out for that announcement in mid-February. And, be sure to save the date for the showcase and final competition on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

For more information please visit the Cupid’s Cup website.

The Pitch Dingman Competition


For all those student entrepreneurs out there, are you ready to take your startup to the next level? Consider applying for the spring Pitch Dingman Competition to be held March 4, 2015, from 6-7:30pm at in Tyser Auditorium in Van Munching Hall. Five finalists will pitch to a panel of all-star judges including regional entrepreneurs and members of the Smith School community, as they compete for $3,500 in start-up funding.

The application deadline is Monday, February 16 at 10 a.m. Click here for more information and eligibility requirements.

Pitch Dingman Sessions are Back!


Beginning Friday, Jan. 30, Pitch Dingman sessions will continue every Friday for the remainder of the semester. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to attend a walk-in sessions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to get feedback on their business ideas. In addition to insights from experienced entrepreneurs, participants will leave Pitch Dingman with actionable next steps. Students interested in competing in the March 4 Pitch Dingman Competition must attend at least one walk-in session.

Questions? Email pitchdingman@rhsmith.umd.edu or visit the website.


To hear about additional events, programs and news, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn and continue reading this blog.


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Dingman Jumpstart: The Weekend Bootcamp

Last weekend, 17 University of Maryland (UMD) alumni came to the Smith School’s Van Munching Hall to jumpstart their business ideas at the Dingman Center’s re-vamped program, Dingman Jumpstart. The program helps alumni increase their odds of building successful businesses by learning how to reduce customer risk and develop clear action plans. The alumni, called Dingman Jumpstart Cohort Alpha, experienced a series of lectures and workshops presented by an all-star lineup of instructors who have all been trained in the National Science Foundations I-Corps curriculum. The weekend kicked off with a Friday evening reception complete with speed pitches then two days of lectures and workshops followed.

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That’s a Wrap! Looking back at the Fall Semester

It’s hard to believe it’s already December. Final exams are coming to an end and soon students will be off for the winter break. Those who engage with the Dingman Center, know our mission is to build a community that discovers, equips, connects and celebrates entrepreneurship. This semester was no exception. We hit the ground running in August, bringing back our signature programs, such as Pitch Dingman Fridays, the Pitch Dingman Competition during Global Entrepreneurship Week, and Terp Marketplace.

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