Category Archives: student entrepreneur

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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Catch Up with this Semester’s Crop of Fearless Founders

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The spring season is a time for growth, and there is no exception at the Dingman Center. Each spring semester we welcome not one, but two cohorts of aspiring entrepreneurs to watch their business ideas grow under our Fearless Founders program. Students come to an Idea Shell to validate their idea through repeated testing until they are able to form a minimum viable product. Once they reach the Hatch phase, they continue to iterate on their idea by fine-tuning their business model and market segment until it’s ready to launch.

Read on for a list of all the ideas growing in Idea Shell and Hatch this semester.

Idea Shell

Adaptive Audio – Javed Akthar Shaik, Abhishek Velayudham, Praneeth Chandu
Beat’n Coffee – Asad Masood, Khaled Nurhssien
The Beauty of I am… – Shanazar Dupuy Sandy
Ashley Ellis
Cali Club – Joey Hurm
College Cleaning –  Michaela Clarke
Dibble – Roman Fuentes
Emprology, LLC – Sydney Parker
GROTechnologies – Abeeb Ayodeji
NPO Connect – Akhil Gupta
pecunia – Amartyo Sen
Plus Interest – William Singelstad
Rapha – Andrae Wiggins
Record Venture – Duk Shin
Recyclify – Charlie Barton, Ardy Djourabtchi
See Food – Oluwatamilore Olafunmiloye
The SPARC Initiative – Taj Keshav
Wedding Planner – Sandhya Taneja
Yomil – Alexandra Gbozia

Hatch

You may recognize some of the Fearless Founders below. Nina Silverstein and Babafemi Adegbite’s social ventures 2B and Re-Empower have been profiled on our blog. afterclass and FroDoh were Pitch Dingman Competition semifinalists, and POSH and Grumpy Joes made it to the final round. Carpo’s app launch was featured in The Diamondback. Stay tuned for more great things from this Hatch cohort!

2B – Nina Silverstein
afterclass – Uday Misra
Carpo – Alec Aronwald
Dark Sonar – George Lee, Simon Schlegel
Feast – Arsalaan Ali, Stephen Frocke, Christina Michael
FroDoh – Alexandra Cimino
Grumpy Joes – Gary Hwang
Line-a-day – Benjamin Taragin
Pangea Medical – Ariel Efergan, Jacob Pollack
POSH – Nathalyn Nunoo
re: Fresh – Carl Comasco
Re-Empower – Babafemi Adegbite
ROOTS – Salvador Fawkes, Elizabeth Gilahuanco, Nebafabs Nwafor
Smith Store – Duk Shin
Terra Bella – Georges Colbert, Val Csontos
Think About It – Von Bell
Tommy Wares – Thomas Piantone


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Capital One provides seed funding to exemplary entrepreneurs in the
Idea Shell and Hatch programs.

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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Introducing the Pitch Dingman Competition Finalists

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The Semifinal round of Pitch Dingman Competition saw its biggest turnout ever this year. Over 300 people packed into Frank Auditorium, popcorn in hand, to watch their friends and fellow students compete for the night’s award opportunities. With only 4 minutes to pitch and 2 minutes to answer questions from the judges, each semifinalist was tasked with communicating their story and value proposition in a short span of time. It was a tough competition, with each team giving an impressive showing. The five teams who made it to the Finals distinguished themselves through sound business models, impressive traction and a clear vision for building their startup. Read on below for a list of the finalists.

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Smith MBA Candidate Launches a Global Renewable Energy Startup

adegbiteb-18aug15-1In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we are taking at look at some of the global impact movers and shakers within our Terp network. Meet Babafemi Adegbite (or Femi as he’s known within Van Munching Hall) MBA ’17  who is launching a global social enterprise startup. The mission of his startup, ReEmpower, is to help alleviate global energy poverty through renewables while also empowering the communities it serves. More than 1 billion people worldwide, even those above the poverty line, lack access to energy which affects their ability to get clean water, medical care and education.

Growing up in Nigeria, Femi saw the effects of energy instability firsthand. Living in a world where women give birth in hospitals without power and children do their homework by dim candlelight, he saw a desperate need to solve this problem. While he was an undergraduate student, impact investing took off and Femi found inspiration from Jacqueline Novogratz’s book, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. Femi looked at the issue he wanted to tackle and worked backwards to guide his career toward that goal. He started working for Solar City, the number one solar installer in the United States. After four years of familiarizing himself with the solar industry, Femi decided to pursue an MBA so that he could start his own company.

Over the next year, Femi will be working to launch ReEmpower in Nigeria. Currently he is focused on customer acquisition, project development and of course the most challenging part—financing. Within the first few years, ReEmpower will focus on setting up solar power micro grids. Customers would range from government entities to individuals who will be able to pay-as-you-go based on income levels. Femi’s long-term goals for ReEmpower are to expand into other renewables and to enter new markets outside Nigeria.

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Meet the 10 Semifinalists of Pitch Dingman Competition

After a rigorous quarterfinals judging process, the 10 semifinalists for this years Pitch Dingman Competition have been selected. University of Maryland alumni entrepreneurs, past Pitch Dingman Competition participants and Dingman Center staff judged each application on the basis of its existing traction, revenue model and viability. At the Semifinals on November 17 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall, they will pitch their businesses shark-tank style to a panel of esteemed judges, including Bill Boyle, Dingman Center Angel investor; Ryan Pillai of WeCook, last year’s Pitch Dingman Competition winner; Harry Alford, Managing Director of Humble Ventures; Zeki Mokhtarzada, former co-founder of Webs, Inc. and Chief Architect of Digital Products at Vistaprint; and Julianna Neelbauer, former Dingman Center legal advisor and current COO of Ad Hoc LLC.

Sign up to watch what is sure to be a close competition between 10 exemplary student startups at UMD.

We are proud to announce the 10 semifinalists:

pdc-semifinalists

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An Interview with Amritha Jayanti, the Founder of Technica

This post is part of a blog series for the launch of Ladies First, the Dingman Center’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

Ladies First isn’t the only initiative at University of Maryland that is breaking down gender inequality—this weekend marks the second year of Technica, UMD’s all-female hackathon, a student-run event that has garnered national attention. Young women in tech from all over the country flock to Technica, and its list of corporate sponsors includes tech giants like Facebook and Yelp. This year, the Technica team added a “Tech + X” week of workshops and panels leading up to the hackathon to help women better prepare for the weekend ahead. Last night, the Dingman Center contributed its network to a panel on Tech + Social Entrepreneurship, which examined how technology can generate social impact. We spoke with Amritha Jayanti ’18, the founder of Technica, about her vision for the hackathon.

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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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