Dingman Jumpstarts Alumni Ventures

The Dingman Center has many entrepreneurship programs available to University of Maryland (UMD) students currently on campus. However, lately we noticed that the resources available to Terp alumni were a bit lacking. UMD has some of the most entrepreneurial alumni out there and the Dingman Center is poised to provide these alumni with the same venture creation methodologies we teach current students. This winter, the Center will launch Dingman Jumpstart, a startup boot camp designed exclusively for UMD alumni. The program will allow alumni to test their early stage venture’s hypotheses and conduct meaningful customer discovery in a short period of time. At the end of the program, which includes a boot camp weekend in January then two follow up meetings in February and March, each venture within the program should have a clear “go” or “no-go” decision.

 

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The Opportunity:

Each year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) invests billions of dollars into the R&D of innovative technologies. With the help of a national program called I-Corps, and through national and regional partnerships with top business schools across the country, these and other federally-funded research projects are given the entrepreneurial tools needed to succeed in the market. I-Corps participants go through a rigorous startup curriculum, developed in collaboration with lean launchpad pioneer Steve Blank, who was instrumental in coining the customer discovery methodology that played a huge part in launching the lean startup movement.

NSF selected a consortium including UMD, George Washington University and Virginia Tech to create the regional DC I-Corps program. Educators and local thought leaders in entrepreneurship make up the teaching faculty for the program. Last winter, Dingman Center Managing Director Elana Fine was recruited to join the teaching faculty and spent months teaching and advising I-Corps ventures.

The Result:

With the I-Corps curriculum now in Dingman’s toolkit, we considered how we could bring these skills to the Terp community, and the idea for Dingman Jumpstart was hatched.

“Jumpstart is really exciting for both Maryland alumni and the Dingman Center. For alumni, it’s an opportunity to access all of the resources available at the Dingman Center, which they may not have known about or accessed while in school,” said Fine. “This program is also a way for us to continue to provide value and support to our entrepreneurial alumni well-beyond graduation.”

In addition to Fine, who has been named one of DC’s “Power Women in Tech,” the Dingman Jumpstart faculty includes fellow DC I-Corps faculty member, Dean Chang.

Applications for Dingman Jumpstart are open now through December 12, 2014. Click here for more information and to apply.

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