Category Archives: Events

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!


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

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!

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

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!


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!

7 Life Lessons from the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker Series feat. Ted Leonsis

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by: Mandar Kashikar MBA ’19

As I scrambled to find an open seat in a jam-packed auditorium, I knew that this was going to be amazing start to the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker series. We had, on campus, two of the most influential businessmen known locally as well as nationally. Soon enough, Elana Fine, Executive Director of the Dingman Center, took the stage to elegantly inaugurate the event, describing the objective of the event to enable student learning by bringing business leaders and entrepreneurs to campus. Dean Alex Triantis further took the stage to introduce Bob Hisaoka, the man behind the Robert G. Hisaoka Speaker series. As a student, I couldn’t imagine a better opportunity to learn about business and entrepreneurship. It was an entrepreneurial journey of 40 years packed into 2 hours. Crash course—Entrepreneurship!

As Bob Hisaoka went on to introduce Ted Leonsis, it seemed like the list of achievements would never end. Ted is an Internet industry pioneer and serial entrepreneur. He helped build AOL into the global business it is today. Under his leadership, AOL increased its membership from under 800,000 members to over 8 million, and their annual revenue increased from $100 million to $1.5 billion. He is the owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the NHL’s Washington Capitals and other sports properties. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors at Groupon as well as American Express. But his accomplishments don’t stop there. Ted is an award-winning producer of documentaries, and the founder and chairman of SnagFilms. His philanthropic efforts are many and his impact on society continues to grow to this day.

Life Lesson 1: Little things if done well go a long way!

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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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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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