Category Archives: Events

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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Good Food and Fun at the Yumpreneurship Showcase

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by: Megan McPherson

On December 7, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Smith School of Business Food Entrepreneurship Conference at University of Maryland’s Shady Grove campus for the first time. Each year, students in Smith’s Entrepreneurship Fellows program organize the event from start to finish, selecting a new name and seeking out new local vendors to feature their food products. This year the event was named the “YUMpreneurship Showcase”and with fifty diverse and delicious food vendors for attendees to sample from, it more than lived up to its title. For just a $10 charitable donation to Manna Food Center, attendees were able to eat one sample from each vendor and give gold coins to the ones they enjoyed the most. At the end of the night, the coins were counted to decide which vendor’s food was the tastiest.

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spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start

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Last Friday was the start of something new and extraordinary at the University of Maryland: spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start, a two-day idea festival co-hosted by the Dingman Center and Startup Shell featuring design-thinking and brainstorming activities that encouraged students to find solutions to problems they want to solve. spark has filled an essential niche at UMD by providing 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.

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A Review of Dream, Girl: A Documentary About Female Entrepreneurs

This fall, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship will be launching the Ladies First Initiative, our commitment to increasing the number of women in entrepreneurship at UMD.

by: Alison Scharman

Last week, women across Smith and their male allies gathered to watch Dream, Girl, thedreamgirl story of how Erin Bagwell, a young graphic designer from New York City, made a documentary. But this film wasn’t just the story of Erin and how she made a movie from inception to funding to distribution. Erin’s objective was to tell the stories of female entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds representing a variety of industries to inspire girls and women of all ages to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

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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

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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Do Good Challenge and the Millennial Social Entrepreneur

By: Megan McPherson

For those of you who don’t know me, I am the Dingman Center’s new Events and Marketing Coordinator. While I’m confident in my events and marketing cred, the complex and challenging world of entrepreneurship is something I am only just dipping my toes into. When I started I was aware of two major and very different events on the horizon: the Pitch Dingman Competition Finals and the Do Good Challenge. Pitch Dingman Competition seemed fairly straightforward to me: five student finalists go head-to-head to win funding for their startups. The Do Good Challenge, on the other hand, is a grand collaboration: founded by the School of Public Policy Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, the Challenge is now run in partnership with the Robert H. Smith School of Business’s Center for Social Value Creation and the Dingman Center, and sponsored by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. Students are given an eight-week period to “do good”, meaning, in the words of the Do Good Challenge website, “Volunteering, raising money and in-kind donations, starting or advancing a social enterprise, or generating buzz for their cause through social media.” Judges measure the resulting social impact generated by a team’s Do Good campaign and the best teams are rewarded with monetary prizes toward their cause. So what is the Dingman Center’s role in all this?

I sat down with Sara Herald, Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship at the Dingman Center and former Center for Social Value Creation member, and asked her to unpack the history behind the Dingman Center’s involvement with the Do Good Challenge. “After the Do Good Challenge began in 2012, it became clear that there were two tracks forming: one for students who started a project as part of a larger organization or movement that ended with the challenge, and one for students who founded their own social enterprises to use those ventures for social impact beyond the scope of the Do Good Challenge,” explained Herald. In response to this growing trend, in 2014 the Do Good Projects and Do Good Ventures tracks were created to distinguish these types of entries, and the Do Good Challenge became a partnership between the School of Public Policy and the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Within the Smith School, both the Center for Social Value Creation and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship support the Do Good Challenge.

A big part of the the Dingman Center’s role is to provide seed funds as well as support and advising services for the many social ventures that sprout in the wake of the Do Good Challenge, including two recent successes Hungry Harvest and Press Uncuffed. But when did social entrepreneurship, or using the tools of business to solve a social problem, become such an attractive concept, particularly to millennials? As to the rise of social impact business models in general, Herald proposed, “There is a macro factor in that we as a society cannot continue to do business in the way that we have.” Resources like water are not infinite, as we had previously thought, but finite. Even traditional corporations such as Coca-Cola are incorporating social impact into their business model as a way to make sure that they are replenishing their resources and ensuring their future availability. She clarified that this trend is not just about the environment, but about “promoting a long-term viable business.” And as to why are millennials are focusing on social ventures, Herald provided this insight:

“The millennial generation cares a great deal about social impact. They reflect on their place in the world and want to become part of a business that shares their values and strives to do more than just make a profit. Not only do they want to work for these types of businesses, they want to buy from them, and they also want to create them.”

As an established millennial myself, my heart swelled to hear such an unusually positive description of my generation. Reflecting on my own experiences and those of my peers, I considered how millennials grew up at the start of a greater trend toward global awareness via the internet and social media. Millennial newsfeeds are filled with articles about global climate change, world hunger, poverty, and the plight of marginalized groups whose voices are only just beginning to be heard. In the midst of this, we see friends posting statuses about issues they are passionate about, sharing articles and contributing to a discussion, or uploading photos of themselves volunteering or at charity events. While popular sentiment is that prolonged exposure to the internet and social media has made millennials too image-conscious, there is a flip-side to this coin: when you see so many of your peers doing good and becoming part of movements toward bettering the world, it’s hard not to want to fit in.

mcphersondingmanheadshotMegan McPherson joined the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in 2016 as its Events and Marketing Coordinator, supporting Associate Director Holly DeArmond. She assists in developing marketing strategies for the center, promoting events, and managing the Dingman Center’s growing social media presence. She has a B.A. in Japanese and Film from Vassar College and is currently working on a Masters in Cats as mother to two domestic shorthairs at her home in Gaithersburg, MD.

For those of you who want to learn more about the role of millennials in social entrepreneurship, here are two events you should check out this week:

What You Didn’t See on Shark Tank: Evan Lutz’s Journey to Investment
Thursday, March 3 – 12-1 p.m. in 2333 Van Munching Hall
A lunch talk with Evan Lutz, founder of Hungry Harvest and a Do Good Challenge contender in 2014. Sign up now.

Social Entrepreneur Millennial Mash-up Panel at Social Enterprise Symposium
Friday, March 4 – 1-5 p.m. in Stamp Student Union
This interactive panel features a Millennial mash-up of real-world social entrepreneurs taking action to address the problems they’re most passionate about, while disrupting the industries where they work. This session will explore how social entrepreneurship helps to drive positive change, and how the growing influence of social enterprises is redefining business as usual.



Event Recap: 2015 Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

Each year, the Smith School of Business hosts leading and up-and-coming stars in entrepreneurship research from around the globe for a three-day academic research conference. This year celebrated the 11th anniversary of the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference, which was held from May 7-9, in Van Munching Hall at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The invitation only conference is co-chaired by Anil Gupta, the Michael D. Dingman Chair in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School, and David Kirsch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School.

The goal of the invitation-only event is to gather both junior and non-tenured faculty to present early stage entrepreneurship research to senior, tenured faculty for discussion and feedback — very similar to the way in which entrepreneurs constantly pitch their ideas, hear reactions and pivot. Continue reading

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Smith Centers of Excellence and SERC to Present JOBS Act Panel: “How To Protect The Crowd In Crowdfunding”

It has been three years since Obama’s historic signing of the JOBS Act, which was enacted as a way to help small businesses, the lifeblood of job growth in the U.S., more easily obtain funding by easing securities regulations. Since 2012, the entrepreneurial community has eagerly awaited the SEC’s final guidance on the rules regarding crowdfunding.

It appears that the SEC is close to issuing rules on how the Act will affect equity investments of non-accredited investors in small businesses and startups, particularly through crowdfunding vehicles.

jobs-act-senate-passesOn Friday, May 8, the Smith School’s Center for Financial Policy, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference will host a panel discussion among experts from the academic, regulatory and entrepreneurial communities on how to regulate the industry in a way that protects investors from fraudulent activity while preserving the spirit of the JOBS Act.

The panel will be moderated by Brent Goldfarb, Academic Director at the Dingman Center and Associate Professor.

The panelists will include:

  • Wayne Kimmel, Founder and Managing Partner, Seventy-Six Capital
  • David Lynn, Partner, Morrison & Forester, and former Chief Counsel of the Division of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Ramana Nanda, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University
  • Brian Knight, Associate Director, Financial Policy, Center for Financial Markets, Milken Institute

The panel culminates the annual invitation-only Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference hosted by the University of Maryland, which is attended by faculty from leading academic institutions (e.g., Wharton, Stanford and MIT). Leading researchers and rising stars in entrepreneurship research gather to discuss relevant social, economic and organizational issues around entrepreneurship.

The crowdfunding panel is the only session open to the public. Join us for the event, which will be held in Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall at 3:30 on Friday, May 8. For more event details, please click here.

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Mark Your Calendar: Spring is Full of Entrepreneurship Events for Terps

It’s officially spring, and with that comes many exciting entrepreneurship events for the Terp community. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss!

Apunnamedril 8 & June 11: Dingman Center Angels Pitch Sessions

The final two investor pitch sessions will be held for the Dingman Center Angels. Members will gather to hear pitches from promising regional startups. Click here for more information.

April 10 & 17: Pitch Dingman hops on the TerpRide bus.

In celebration of UMD’s 3rd Annual 30 Days of Entrepreneurship, the Dingman Center EIRs will be on the TerpRide bus on these two dates to provide startup feedback to Terps. The bus will be parked outside the Stamp Student Union. Terps can pitch their business ideas on the bus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

April 22: 10th Anniversary Cupid’s Cup Competition

Join Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and an all-star panel of judges as six student entrepreneur finalists compete for more than $115K in cash prizes in one of the world’s toughest business competitions. RSVP today, space is limited and the event will sell out!

3:30-5:30 p.m. Startup Showcase
6 p.m. Final Competition
Register at

cupidscupMay 6: Inaugural Rudy Awards presented by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship  

Guests will be invited to join the Center for its inaugural awards celebration where honors will be given to a Student Entrepreneur of the Year; Mentor of the Year; Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year; a Faculty Award and more. Invitations will be distributed in the upcoming weeks.

May 7-9​: Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference

The Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Management and Organization Department will host the 11th Annual Smith Entrepreneurship Research Conference (SERC) in Van Munching Hall. The conference is a gathering of PhD students and professors who perform research on the topic of entrepreneurship. It’s an opportunity for researchers across the world to exchange ideas about their work. Click here for more information.

DCE logoMay 21: UMD Commencement Ceremony

The Dingman Center will see many Fearless Founders, MBAs and other student entrepreneurs walk across the graduation stage. For details, please visit

May 23-31: AdVENTURE Challenge: China

The Dingman Center will travel to China for the 9th Annual China Business Model Competition. This year’s delegation includes MBA students from the Smith School and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Check out more details here.

Be sure to visit the Dingman Center’s website for information on additional events and student resources.

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