Category Archives: Community

3 Things I Did To “Surprise and Delight” My Way to 15,000 Customers

by: Sam Feldman, Founder, CardBuddy

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BACKGROUND ON ME

I fell in love with entrepreneurship soon after arriving at college, and made it my goal to run a business full-time upon graduating. I went 2 years without any paying customers, but during my junior year I started CardBuddy, a stick-on phone wallet company that now does over $100K annual revenue (and have been running it full-time since graduating last May).

I have some unique customer service strategies which have brought me great results, and I thought I’d share them here!

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What’s Coming Up at the Dingman Center

There are plenty of exciting events happening at and around the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Get out your calendars and mark down these dates—we’ll see you there!

October:

Pitch Dingman Competition Applications
Monday, September 18 to Thursday, October 19

Pitch Dingman Competition is the University of Maryland’s only business competition exclusively for Terps. Held annually, students can compete for $30,000 in startup funding. Student entrepreneurs should apply at go.umd.edu/pitchcompetition.

Dingman Jumpstart
Friday, October 6, 12-3 p.m. | 1505 Van Munching Hall

Dingman Jumpstart is open to all University of Maryland students who have a startup idea, but lack a business framework with which to operate. This pivotal workshop is a 3 hour crash-course in business models, financials, understanding your competition, and much more. Set your business up for success, and apply now at go.umd.edu/jumpstart!

spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start by the Dingman Center & Startup Shell
Friday & Saturday, October 20 – 21 | Pownall Atrium, Van Munching Hall

spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start is a two-day ideation event featuring brainstorming activities that encourage students to find solutions to problems they want to solve. spark provides students who are interested in entrepreneurship but haven’t yet founded a venture with a means to discover and explore how their passions can translate into business ideas. Register at go.umd.edu/spark

Friday, October 20, 5-9 p.m.
What Problem Do You Want To Solve?

On Friday night, under the direction of Professor Oliver Schlake students will brainstorm with their peers about problems they would like to solve. By the end of the night, they will join a team and begin collaborating to come up with ideas for solutions to their chosen problems.

Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
How Will You Solve It?

On Saturday, students will attend a series of workshops and work with mentors to fine-tune their idea and ultimately present their results at a Show and Tell, where judges will pick winners to take home prizes.

Terp Marketplace
Friday, October 27, 12-2 p.m. | Pownall Atrium, Van Munching Hall

(Terp Marketplace)dsc_0062blogTerp Marketplace is an opportunity for student entrepreneurs to sell or showcase their products and gather feedback from the Smith community. There’s no better way to test your product on the open market than going out there and selling what you have, even if it isn’t perfect! Participation is free and is open to all current UMD students. Sign up for a table at go.umd.edu/terpmarketplace!

November:

Ladies First Fall Dinner
Wednesday, November 8, 6 p.m. | 2517 Van Munching Hall

(Ladies First)DSC_0016Ladies First is the Dingman Center’s initiative to get more women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. Female students are invited to attend the second annual Ladies First dinner and learn more about upcoming Ladies First programs and events for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals
Thursday, November 16, 6:00PM | Frank Auditorium

featuredphotoAt Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals, 10 student startups will pitch their businesses to judges to win a spot at the Finals in the spring. At the end, five startup teams will move on to compete for a shot at the $15,000 grand prize! Come cheer on your fellow Terps and learn more about the Pitch Dingman Competition at go.umd.edu/pitchcompetition!

Startup Stories: A Summer Internship at Sandboxx

This past summer, Michael Khizgilov ’20 received a stipend to work at a startup through our Kathryn Stewart Fellowship Program. The Dingman Center asked him about his experience to give other students a preview of the benefits a startup internship has to offer.

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Tell us about Sandboxx. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?

SANDBOXX simplifies the military lifestyle. Its mission is to keep the military community connected—and it does that in a number of ways. It helps people send letters to their loved ones who are off the grid at boot camp. It also helps parents find great travel deals and helps active duty members stay connected with their community. This all centers around the free SANDBOXX app. SANDBOXX was founded by vets and is leveraging tech to improve the military community—to serve those who serve us.

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Tell us about your responsibilities over the summer at Sandboxx?

My responsibilities were focused on operations as well as marketing. I helped ensure that the operations process was running smoothly, with a focus on quality and efficiency. In addition, I was responsible for analyzing various stages of the operations process and finding ways to improve the quality and efficiency of the system, with great success. This type of thinking and focus on constant innovation is ingrained into the company culture, and I often find myself analyzing ways to improve my own daily workflow since completing the internship. On the marketing side, I was also responsible for writing blog posts and creating social media content. This process required me to truly understand Sandboxx’s mission and the expectations of its users. I feel that my marketing experience had a strong connection to the process of launching a startup as I had to emphasize with the end-user and understand their needs and pain-points. For example, in the case of Sandboxx’s Letters platform, I needed to fully understand the challenge that loving family and friends face in staying connected to their future service member during boot camp. As someone with limited prior exposure to the military, I had to truly immerse myself in the culture and history to effectively fulfill my role.

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Get to Know the Dingman Center: Elana Fine

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Elana Fine, Executive Director

Elana Fine is the fearless leader of the Dingman Center, a position that demands she wear many different hats: professor, podcast co-host, traveling panelist, thought leader, three-time “Tech Titan” and last but certainly not least, the manager of our team. Even during the Center’s busiest, most stressful times, Elana’s unwavering energy and tenacity serve as a beacon for her team to follow. Her “Monday morning meetings” are a weekly fixture that even those who would never call themselves “morning people” have come to look forward to. In these meetings, and on a daily basis, every member of the team is encouraged to contribute their thoughts on how we can best express the Dingman Center’s appeal and execute on its mission. In the face of adversity, we can press forward with confidence knowing Elana will fight for her team like a tiger protecting her cubs. Maybe that sort of maternal fierceness comes easily to her, as in addition to being a full-time executive director, she’s a full-time mom to twin 10-year olds. It’s unclear where she finds the time or energy for all of this, but some mysteries are better left unsolved. Not all heroes wear capes, after all.

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Get to Know the Dingman Center: Holly DeArmond

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Holly DeArmond, Associate Director

Holly DeArmond is effectively the Dingman Center’s COO—she is instrumental in the strategy and planning necessary to execute on our mission, and does so with aplomb. Holly’s tenure at the Dingman Center began in 2012, before any of our other current staff, giving her a unique perspective on how the Center’s identity and mission have evolved. Formerly an organizer of the much-celebrated Maryland Day, her well-established events, marketing and branding expertise have been crucial to the Center’s success as we know it today. Under her direction, Pitch Dingman Competition Finals expanded to Stamp’s Colony Ballroom, “Fearless Founders” and “Dingman Fridays” became common Smith School buzzwords, and University of Maryland saw its first startup weekend, spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start. In addition to her Dingman Center credits, Holly is currently working to complete the Smith School’s part-time MBA program. Every curve-ball thrown her way she knocks out of the park, and inspires those who work with her to do the same.

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Get to Know the Dingman Center: Megan McPherson

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Megan McPherson, Events & Marketing Coordinator

I, Megan McPherson, have been your humble narrator for this blog all along, so allow me to abandon the third-person pretense. Hello, dear readers! I joined the Dingman Center in January 2016 to bring a fresh creative energy to the Center’s events and marketing activities. My duties include coordinating logistics for events like spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start, Pitch Dingman Competition and the Rudy Awards; running social media and the blog; creating and supervising the creation of print and digital marketing materials; drafting and sending e-vites and newsletters (subscribe to The Pitch!); and more. As the staff’s resident quirky nerd, I take pride in my work when I can let my personality show through while telling the Center’s story. Through revealing myself, I want to encourage entrepreneurs to strive for honesty within themselves and what they want to achieve, and to portray the Dingman Center as an inclusive space where Terps are encouraged to get their hands dirty and explore both the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

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Get to Know the Dingman Center: Seth Shuldiner

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Seth Shuldiner, Venture Investment Manager

Although Seth Shuldiner is the newest member of the Dingman Center, having arrived in January 2017, he’s quickly proven himself invaluable to the team. Seth’s role is threefold: he manages and sources deals for the Dingman Center Angels network, works with the UM System on their new Momentum Fund and shares his experiences with students as part of a new experiential learning course on Venture Capital at the Smith School of Business. Having previously worked as an analyst at the Maryland Venture Fund, Seth brings valuable experience in venture capital investing as well as startup company operations and strategy. If you haven’t met him yet, it’s probably because he’s out and about in the DMV startup ecosystem meeting new and promising entrepreneurs.

What excites you most about your job?

The most exciting aspect of my job is without a doubt the people with whom I get to work. It’s a privilege to be able to partner with extremely bright and ambitious entrepreneurs building the latest technologies and businesses. It’s always a learning experience that I find enjoyable and challenging.

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Get to Know the Dingman Center: Sara Herald

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Sara Herald, Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship

Sara Herald came to the Dingman Center from the Center for Social Value Creation in January 2016, bringing social entrepreneurship along with her. Since her arrival, the Dingman Center has sought to create a welcome space for students interested in leveraging venture creation for social impact. She has challenged us to reframe our concept of “entrepreneurship” to be inclusive of students who don’t self-label as “entrepreneur”, and might prefer the term “changemaker” or “problem-solver” instead. Through her landmark Ladies First initiative, we are seeing more female students than ever exploring entrepreneurial pathways at University of Maryland. Sara’s progressive attitude toward entrepreneurship and its role in building a better world are inspiring to both staff and students.

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Get Stock Market Savvy with Terp Startup Senvision

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the nine student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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Senvision’s founders: Sanna Madan (CTO) and Christopher Look (CEO)

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Rising University of Maryland sophomores Christopher Look (CEO) and Sanna Madan (CTO) are the youngest founders in our Terp Startup incubator, but their spot is well-earned. Their venture, Senvision, uses a machine-learning algorithm that conducts sentiment analysis of companies on social media to track stock market movement. Their desired end-product will be a mobile app targeted to millennials to help them invest smarter through day-to-day trade, yielding higher returns. Competing apps tend to rely on a mutual fund strategy, which places the user in a more passive role and denies them the ability to effectively educate themselves about the stock market. The Dingman Center interviewed the founders about their startup, which they launched in their freshman year.

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Frozen Desserts Done Deliciously with Terp Startup FroDoh

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the nine student startups who are participating in the Terp Startup summer incubator phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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FroDoh’s founders, left to right: Diego Lyon (CTO), Holly Wilson (COO), Simon Amato (CEO), Alexandra Cimino (CMO)

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The founders of FroDoh are passionate about shaking up the food industry with their premium frozen desserts. Available in three flavors, blueberry, banana nut and s’mores, FroDoh’s donut holes remain delicious even after freezing, making them ideal for a luxurious late-night snack. Friends Simon Amato, CEO and Holly Wilson, COO launched the company in their junior year at University of Maryland, later bringing in Alexandra (Al) Cimino, CMO and Diego Lyon, CTO. The Dingman Center was able to interview FroDoh’s recently graduated team members, Simon, Holly and Al, who have chosen to pursue their startup full-time.

Want to support FroDoh? Help them raise $20,000 on their Indiegogo campaign!

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