Category Archives: Community

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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Get to Know the Dingman Center: Chris Rehkamp

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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Chris Rehkamp, Student Venture Programs Manager

Chris Rehkamp joined the Dingman Center in May 2016 to manage our student venture creation programs, namely the Idea Shell and Terp Startup phases of our Fearless Founders accelerator as well as Dingman Fridays. Since Chris’s arrival, we have seen many new students come in and out of the Center, eager to share their ideas and progress with him. Formerly a Membership Manager at DC’s food incubator Union Kitchen, Chris is experienced at designing an inviting environment for venture creation and collaboration. His take on Dingman Fridays and Terp Startup include music, food and whiteboards to create an energizing space filled with good vibes.

What excites you most about your job?
I’ve always really enjoyed working with people at the intersection of their passion and their creativity. In my role at the Dingman Center, I get to do precisely that, every day. I am so fortunate to sit across from students who have committed themselves to solving problems and building creative solutions.

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Smith School Undergrads Present Research in Rome

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From left: Fasika Delessa, Evan Haas, Aishwariya Chandrasekar, Sarina Haryanto and Professor David Kirsch

by: Megan McPherson

On April 18-19, four Smith School students in the Center for Social Value Creation’s Social Innovation Fellows program, Sarina Haryanto, Aishwariya Chandrasekar, Fasika Delessa and Evan Haas, and Professor David Kirsch attended the inaugural IESE-LUISS Business School Conference on Responsibility, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship in Rome. Under the guidance of Professor Kirsch, these undergraduate students presented their paper, Hybrid Organizations and Social Enterprise Ecosystems: Findings from a U.S. Survey, to a room full of established academics.

The survey that formed the basis of their research was first launched by Halcyon Incubator in Washington, D.C. Last year, Halcyon released From the Ground Up: Defining Social Enterprise Systems in the U.S., the results of a nationwide survey to social entrepreneurs that assessed cities based on four “pillars” that create a healthy framework for a social enterprise ecosystem: Funding, Quality of Life, Human Capital and Regulations & Receptivity. The findings of the report designated Washington D.C. the number one ecosystem for social entrepreneurs.

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A Day of Entrepreneurship with the Dingman Center

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by: Megan McPherson

This year for 30 Days of Entrepreneurship, the Dingman Center decided we would roll a month’s worth of activity into a single day: Thursday, April 20. The result was our Day of Entrepreneurship, which featured the return of a popular Dingman Center event, Terp Marketplace, and later a rousing speech by entrepreneurship guru Jeff Hoffman.

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