Category Archives: Fearless Founders

Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals Recap

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This past Thursday, we hosted our annual Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals in the Frank Auditorium of Van Munching Hall. With the recent news that University of Maryland had risen to #8 in the country in undergraduate entrepreneurship education, it was no surprise to see the room filled with attendees enthusiastically cheering for this extraordinary group of student founders.

Chaired by generous donor and UMD alumnus Robert G. Hisaoka, this year’s Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals was preceded by an announcement for the new Hisaoka Entrepreneurs program. As part of the program, each semifinalist team will receive mentoring, coaching and additional funding to accelerate their venture toward success.

With only 4 minutes to present and 2 minutes for Q&A from judges, the 10 semifinalists all pitched their businesses admirably, but in the end, the judges chose these six exemplary startups to advance to the Finals:

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Announcing the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinalists

PDC Semifinalists

We are pleased to announce the 10 semifinalists of Pitch Dingman Competition, whose founders will make up the inaugural cohort of Hisaoka Entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs will receive mentoring and coaching to help them further accelerate their businesses, whether or not they make the cut for Pitch Dingman Competition Finals.

Register now to cheer these students on at the Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals on November 16 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, VMH!

Here are the 10 semifinalist startups and their founders:

Basereach – Dan Bogachek
Basereach sends personalized handwritten cards in your own handwriting to better connect with and thank your customers.

BEEQBOX – Brianna Queen
BEEQBOX provides vegan and cruelty-free illuminating cosmetic products with a branded feminist twist.

Dark Sonar Technologies, LLC – George Lee, Simon Schlegel
Dark Sonar is a cybersecurity company that prevents synthetic identity fraud on websites and mobile apps for small and medium sized businesses.

Emprology – Sydney Parker
Emprology, LLC is a digital brand consultancy and content creation shop that works to build influential personal brands for black women.

Flee – Didac Hormiga
Flee is a location-based social media app that helps people find local events and entertainment.

Manta Technologies – Daniel Diazdelcastillo
The MANTA vessel efficiently eliminates water debris to save millions of sea life from water pollution.

MPLEX VR – Stephen Walsh, Mikhail Sorokin, Galen Stetsyuk
MPLEX is a virtual reality (VR) video game company creating a competitive, multiplayer game with the depth, variety, and personalization worth getting a VR headset for.

Ötzi – Shyon Parsadoust, Nick Sarfaraz
A Tinder-like platform for tattoo artists and their customers to better connect with one another before the inking process begins.

Senvision – Chris Look, Sanna Madan
Senvision’s algorithm performs global sentiment analysis on social media to predict stock market movement.

Symbiont Health – Erich Meissner, Maria Chen, Kyle Liu
Symbiont Health has developed wearable, automated fall detection devices for seniors.

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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Leveling the Playing Field for Cybersecurity with Terp Startup Dark Sonar

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the eight 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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Dark Sonar

Representing cybersecurity startup Dark Sonar in Terp Startup this summer is COO and co-founder Brian Freeman, a rising mechanical engineering junior at University of Maryland. He joined the founding team after CEO George Lee, a rising senior finance major, and CTO Simon Schlegel, a rising senior computer science major, began developing cybersecurity software that is both simple to integrate and affordable for businesses of all sizes. Dark Sonar’s competitors are primarily focused on fraudulent transactions for large corporations, and charge an appropriately large amount for the privilege. The founders of Dark Sonar are looking to focus on the needs of a target market that has been largely ignored by the cybersecurity industry—small and medium sized businesses. The customizable and adaptable subscription model of Dark Sonar will make it easier for any business, big or small, to combat identity fraud.

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Terp Startup 2B Gives Children a Vision for Adult Success

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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2B

Former elementary school teacher Nina Silverstein MBA ’17 is the founder of social venture 2B, a children’s book and clothing company that aims to inspire children by giving them a means to envision what they want to be when they grow up. The t-shirts would be printed with representations of what, for example, a doctor would wear when doing his/her job, and the books would contain a kid-friendly overview of what a doctor does and how a child can prepare to become one when they grow up. These sets of t-shirts and books would be available in a wide variety of professions, some that many children, especially in underprivileged circumstances, may never have considered or even been aware of. Nina hopes that 2B will break down barriers and broaden horizons for children of all backgrounds, encouraging them to believe that with hard work, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

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Find Your Friends and Cool Events with Terp Startup Flee

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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Flee

Didac Hormiga, a rising junior at University of Maryland, is the founder and CEO of Flee (Find Local Events and Entertainment), a location-based social media app that helps people find events and entertainment happening around them. As a marketing and information systems double-major with a minor in technology entrepreneurship and a knack for design (he designed the wireframes for the app himself), Didac’s diverse skillset is complemented by his CTO, Ian Sawyer, whom he met while interning at Talk Local. Together, they’re developing a platform with features such as video stories, discounts and transportation options that provide convenient benefits to both users and venues who partner with the app. Friends find cool events to attend together, venues gain access to an effective marketing channel, and everyone gets to have fun.

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Light Up Your Wardrobe with Terp Startup GlowGadget

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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GlowGadget

The sole founder of GlowGadget, Shane Salta, is a computer engineer turned Smith School of Business MBA graduate who is looking to launch a line of t-shirts that feature smart LED lighting technology. The lighting on the prototype shirt is flexible and seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the shirt itself, in addition to being totally mesmerizing. Through connectivity with an app, the wearer has the ability to fully customize the appearance of the lights to produce colorful designs, patterns and animations. The shirt has exciting potential to dazzle at sports events, where wearers might synchronize a message to support their favorite team, or at a music festival, where the shirt could make wearers an attraction unto themselves. As both a tinkerer and an entrepreneur, Shane is passionate about producing a shirt that is both technologically superior and has mass market appeal.

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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)

Senvision

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)

FroDoh

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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