Category Archives: Pitch Dingman

Wrapping Up Fall 2017 at the Dingman Center

Fall2017Wrap Collage

The end of the semester is here once again! Student entrepreneurs are buckling down to get through their final exams, group projects and presentations before they’re off for the holidays. As the Dingman Center quiets down while students are studying, we’ve had time to reflect on the events we’ve held throughout the semester. In these past few months, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of energy, engagement and enthusiasm from the community at our events and programs at the Smith School. Take a look at some of our favorite highlights over the past semester!

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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.

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!

Pitch Dingman Competition Finals Rundown

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The Pitch Dingman Competition Finals were on Tuesday, March 7 and as promised the Dingman Center and our partners gave away more than $30,000 in startup funding! Here’s the breakdown:

The David & Robyn Quattrone Grand Prize – $15,000
Curu, David Potter & Abb Kapoor

Second Place Prize – $7,500
CourseHunter, Aaron Bloch, Benjamin Khakshoor

Third Place Prize – $3,500
Gravity LLC, Richard Kong

Audience Choice Prize – $1,500
Curu, David Potter & Abb Kapoor

Runners Up
Grumpy Joes, Gary Hwang
POSH, Nathalyn Nunoo

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Grumpy Joes

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.

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Grumpy Joes co-founders Gary Hwang and Mike McGraw at the Semifinals

Grumpy Joes

Gary Hwang, Co-Founder & CFO
Michael McGraw, Co-Founder & CEO

logoGrumpy Joes is not your average veteran t-shirt company. Visit their site and you won’t find a stereotypical veteran t-shirt combination of American flags, bald eagles, automatic weapons and threatening mantras about killing enemies. The veteran co-founders of Grumpy Joes, Gary Hwang and Mike McGraw, set out to portray a less well known and, for some veterans, a far more resonant side of military lifestyle: humor. Since launching in October 2016, their brand of military inside joke driven apparel has gone viral in the veteran community. Besides producing a variety of quirky t-shirt designs, the founders produce their own funny content in the form of videos and also share memes that fit with their brand. A recent video they posted has received 1.4 million organic views, and counting. Grumpy Joes resonates with a niche veteran community that, until this point, has been relatively ignored. As their following continues to grow, Grumpy Joes is becoming not just a t-shirt company, but a platform for veterans to connect positively with one another in a post-military world.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Gravity LLC

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.

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Richard Kong, Founder & CEO of Gravity LLC

Gravity LLC

Richard Kong, Founder & CEO

logo6_concept_1_copyGravity LLC produces Gravity Tales, an online platform that publishes English translations of Chinese and Korean fantasy novels. Since Gravity Tales first launched in January 2015 with just one novel, the website has grown to become one the top 1,600 most visited websites in the United States, and in the top 3,000 in the world. The reasons for its popularity lie in its niche appeal among its adolescent user base. While Japanese “light novels” and comics have gained relative success in the U.S. publishing industry, Chinese and Korean works have a limited to non-existent presence on retail bookshelves. In addition to providing a forum for a growing segment of young readers looking to explore interests in Chinese culture and history, Gravity Tales offers its users free, unlimited content. The site’s rapidly increasing daily page views attracted advertisers, allowing Gravity Tales to collect revenue to pay its contracted translators and editors without charging users. At first launch, Gravity LLC founder Richard Kong was a junior in high school. Now a computer engineering freshman at University of Maryland, Richard is the youngest finalist in this year’s Pitch Dingman Competition.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: POSH

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.

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From left: Elania Tait, Nathalyn Nunoo, William Kwao

POSH

Nathalyn Nunoo, Founder & CEO
William Kwao, Operations & Tech
Elania Tait, Public Relations

Posh logo black.pngPOSH is a web platform that offers a reliable, affordable way to book freelance beauty professionals for any occasion. The task of scheduling a makeup artist typically comes with a number of obstacles and uncertainties: How do I know that the artist will give me the look I want? Are their rates consistent with other makeup artists? What happens if they’re late (and they often are)? How much do I tip, and at what point in the process is it proper to do so? POSH conveniently answers those queries on the back-end to ultimately pair their customers with artists who are vetted, talented and consistently punctual. The payment rates are transparent, the tip is included and all the customer has left to worry about is the event at hand. Makeup artists see a benefit as wellall the complicated logistics of working with a client are handled through POSH, allowing them to concentrate fully on their art. With its emphasis on convenience and customer service, POSH’s initial customer base has inevitably led to a growing list of new clients.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: CourseHunter

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.

CourseHunter

Aaron Bloch, Co-Founder (pictured right)
Benjamin Khakshoor, Co-Founder (pictured left)

CourseHunterLogoCourseHunter is an online platform that is revolutionizing course registration for college students. Students looking to get into important classes often encounter too-full classes with long waitlists that jeopardize the overall timing of their four-year plan. The CourseHunter website integrates with existing registration systems to help notify students when a class they are interested in opens up, allowing them to sign up for classes without worrying about waitlists. After achieving success with students using Testudo at University of Maryland, they launched at George Washington University and University of Southern California, and are looking to adapt to supplement registration systems at more schools.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Curu

In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.

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Curu’s co-founders at the Semifinals, from left: David Potter, CEO and Abb Kapoor, COO

Curu

David Potter, CEO
Abb Kapoor, COO

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Curu is a website and mobile application that assesses your spending habits and then notifies you of convenient, seamless ways you can improve or enhance your existing practices to optimize your credit score. Curu’s selling point is “credit confidence”—keeping Curu in the background to help you spend smarter will ensure you can make big purchases like buying a car or a house and never worry about high interest rates. Though the target market for Curu is primarily 25-30 year-olds working toward making large purchases, the founders see their product as appealing not just to an age group, but to anyone who is interested in improving their credit score.

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