Category Archives: spark

Introducing the Fall 2016 Idea Shell Cohort

Each semester, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship runs a 6-week long program called Idea Shell, the first phase of our Fearless Founders Accelerator. Using lean startup methodology, students are encouraged to perform numerous customer interviews and continuously pivot on their idea as they work toward launching their startup.

This fall saw two major changes to the Idea Shell formula. The first was the addition of new our two-day idea festival, spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start, the weekend prior to the first Idea Shell workshop on October 12. Of the students currently enrolled in Idea Shell, 25% came to spark and left with an idea for a problem they wanted to solve. The second major change is the input of our new Student & Venture Program Manager, Chris Rehkamp, who debuted as the instructor of Terp Startup this summer and has been a welcoming fixture at Dingman Fridays this fall.

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An Insider View of spark, UMD’s First Idea Festival


Lakshmi in the front right in a photo with her spark team, “Steam Dream.”

by: Lakshmi Shyamakrishnan

As someone who is unsure of what she wants to do after college, I’ve had to be a bit experimental in the activities I pursue. I was already in the Smith School of Business, but I did not know where my talents or interests lay within the department. I decided to do something I had never been comfortable with, which was to just approach someone and ask for ideas. I caught up with one of my mentors in the Smith School, Ms. Kristin LaRiviere, and spoke with her about my dilemma. She encouraged me to experiment with entrepreneurship, the next step of which was to visit Dingman Fridays at the Dingman Center. These walk-in office hours were created especially for innovative and entrepreneurial students like me, who were unsure of how to carry on with an idea once it’s been hatched. I met with Ms. Sara Herald, Associate Director of Social Entrepreneurship, who introduced me to the event, spark: Where Fearless Ideas Start, which took place from Friday, October 7th to Saturday, October 8th. spark was a way for me to expand upon my talents and see if I was really cut out to be an entrepreneur. All the participants seemed eager and willing to start their projects as quickly as possible, but first we had to learn the basics.

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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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