Category Archives: Terps

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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CourseHunter: The Answer to Frustrating College Registration Systems

by: Megan McPherson

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 $3,500 stipends that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over six weeks in the summer.

Every college student is familiar with how maddening registering for classes can be, especially when you don’t have the luxury of first dibs. Freshmen in particular are assigned a lower priority, so if you can’t manage to get into a class you need—even if it’s for your intended major—you are faced with having to reexamine your entire four year plan. The co-founder of CourseHunter, Benjamin Khakshoor, encountered just this dilemma when he was turned away from an essential introductory Computer Science class in his first semester at University of Maryland. Instead of giving up on the class, Benjamin wrote a program that would analyze UMD’s registration system, Testudo, and notify him when the class had an empty seat. It worked. After he told friends what happened, he received a surge of requests for help getting into classes.CourseHunterLogo

Enter Benjamin’s roommate and fellow Computer Science major, Aaron Bloch. Seeing a business opportunity, Aaron created a Facebook page to monitor incoming requests to use the program. The program’s appeal to students is understandable, according to Aaron, “We’ve gotten people ahead of 150 person waitlists.” Through word of mouth alone, the demand quickly became overwhelming, so they decided to automate: they built their own website for the program, and thus CourseHunter 1.0 was born.

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Congratulations to the 2016 Student Entrepreneur Grant Winners

Each year, the Dingman Center sees many aspiring student entrepreneurs pass through its doors. Students that participate in our Fearless Founders accelerator program and Dingman Fridays advising hours have an opportunity to grow their companies at a rapid rate, but as with anything, willpower prevails. To those students who have shown a particularly strong level of dedication and commitment to their entrepreneurial endeavors, we are able to award seed funding through our Capital One and Venture Well sponsored grants:

Capital One Grant:CapitalOne_Logo_06_02_14

For several years, Capital One has been an
ever-loyal supporter and sponsor of student entrepreneurs. With our Capital One MVP grants of $500 and our larger grants of $2,500 for those who have completed the Hatch course in Fearless Founders, recipients are enabled to take their business ideas to a new level of growth and possibility.

This year’s winners are:

Capital One MVP
Teddy Li, Tixel Labs – a data analytics company that aims to provide smarter inventory management for restaurants
Carlouie Nievera, Carlouie & Company – a retro fashion line inspired by the ’90s looks of Saved by the Bell and Fresh Prince of Bell Air
David Potter, Abb Kapoor and Giorgi Managadze, Curu – an app that provides tools and tricks for smarter credit management
Thomas Rivas-Siles, Vendoo – an app that allows online sellers to access multiple marketplaces from one convenient location
Davit Sargsyan, Sunset Sangria – an American-produced sangria company and lifestyle brand
Victoria Tataw, Nails by Tataw – a vegan, 5-free and cruelty-free nail polish brand
Oru Wonodi , NOVA Prints & Apparel – a globally conscious fashion line with a mission to supply aid to individuals in developing countries

Capital One Grant: Hatch
Dustin Ecton, TapTimeTV – a customizable entertainment and advertising channel for bars and restaurants
Sumanth Jinagouda, SpotThis – a fashion discovery service that helps you find outfits based on images you can upload

Capital One Grant: Idea Shell
Danielle Karpa – a mobile app that provides incentives for better driving practices
Nathalyn Nunoo, William Kwao, Elania Tait, and Saron Bizuayehu, POSH – a beauty and makeup consultation service

VentureWell Grant:VentureWell_logo_stacked

VentureWell is a higher education network that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. Their grants of $500 each are given to students with promising startup ideas who have shown outstanding commitment to furthering their business.

This year’s winners are:

Saron Asfaw, East Habesha – an online clothing store and cultural destination for East African wares
Philemon Masewal, Q – an app that allows you to pay a fee to reserve a bar seat during peak hours
Shyon Parsadoust, RollaWire – a wireless headphone alternative to unreliable bluetooth options
Aaron Pludwinski, Kanvasroom – an online platform for creatives across industries to collaborate on projects

Congratulations on your hard work, everyone!

Learn more about the Fearless Founders program on the Dingman Center website.

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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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6 finalists remain after the Do Good Challenge Semifinals

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By: Megan McPherson

The small classroom setting of the Do Good Challenge Semifinals felt intimate and understated, but the passion of each student shined just as brightly in that classroom as it may have on some grand stage. As each team pitched their eight weeks of social impact to the judges panel, I tried in vain to capture the morning’s energy with numerous photographs and tweets.

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A Look Back at the 2016 Cupid’s Cup

By: Justin Taubman ’16 MBA Candidate

On Thursday, April 7th, Kevin Plank ’96, Founder and CEO of Under Armour, returned to the University of Maryland to host the 11th annual Cupid’s Cup Entrepreneurship Competition. This was my second time attending the event and Mr. Plank continues to outdo himself by bringing in celebrity judges like Dan Gilbert, Wes Moore, and Arianna Huffington to evaluate the exceptional pitches of six finalists. The finalists emerged from a pool of over 500 applicants representing over 100 schools and made it through several rounds of screening to the main event where they competed for $100,000 in cash prizes.

The event started at 2:00 p.m. in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with a Startup Showcase of UMD’s top student entrepreneurs and their businesses. Among the startups in the showcase were many of the finalists from the Pitch Dingman Competition such as uBoard and WeCook as well as many other friends of the Dingman Center like Spot This and Meta Cartel

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After touring all the booths, I ended up throwing on a Spot This t-shirt and joining my classmates to help collect email addresses to invite users to join their beta. The crowd was very curious about their product and happy to get involved in the testing. The energy and excitement in the atmosphere was palpable, but this was just an appetizer leading up to the main event that would start at 4:00 p.m.

The show kicked off with the professional MC Christian Crosby, Live Events Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers who introduced Plank to the crowd of over a thousand. Mr. Plank recounted his days at the University of Maryland as a student athlete and his rose delivery business that helped him raise the seed money to start Under Armour after graduating. After introducing the judges, the competition began.

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Kevin Plank ’96 introducing judges

The competition was comprised of six finalists, all with incredibly unique businesses that were all generating substantial revenue. Headbands of Hope kicked things off by pitching their stylish headband company with a social angle to help children with cancer. Then the University of Maryland’s own Javazen got the hometown crowd fired up in their presentation. The unique box membership company MyBestBox did an impressive job explaining how their customized boxes can help customers live more healthy lives. The youngest entrepreneur in the finals was the founder of Plova Chewing Gum, who introduced us to the world’s first beneficial oral care product in the form of gum. The founder of Six Foods had an infectious energy that got Kevin Plank to eat her Chirp Chips, tortilla chips made with crickets. The last pitch was by Wolf & Shepherd the sleek dress shoe company with the technology of running shoes.

The judges certainly had their work cut out for them. Ultimately there could only be one winner of the Cup. After much deliberation the judges emerged from backstage and handed out some impressive $5,000 consolation prizes to Plova and MyBestBox. SixFoods was awarded $25,000 for second-place. The first-place prize of $75,000, their name on the Cup, and access to Kevin Plank’s network was awarded to our very own Javazen! We are all very proud of Ryan, Eric, and Aaron at the Dingman Center and hope that their success continues and also that it inspires other student entrepreneurs at University of Maryland.

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Female Fearless Founders Featurette

In honor of Smith Women’s Week, we would like to highlight some recent past and present female participants of our Fearless Founders student accelerator program. We are immensely proud to have worked with these young women and to have been given the opportunity to help them grow their startups.

 

East Habesha – Saron Asfaw
habesha

Saron Asfaw ’18 started East Habesha in our Idea Shell stage, where she won a $500 MVP grant from Capital One to build her startup. She is currently working on further improving her business as a member of the Spring 2016 Hatch cohort. East Habesha is a website that sells custom Ethiopian dresses and food spices to customers in the DC metropolitan area. There is a large population of Ethiopians in the DC metropolitan area and there are many vendors that supply these necessities. What differentiates East Habesha from its competitors is that the prices are low but the quality is high. We look forward to seeing East Habesha grow as it continues to gain traction in the community.

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Great startups that are solving the world’s most pressing social issues

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By Adriana Kao, MBA 2016, CellShare team

After the nerves have settled, the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition to solve the world’s toughest challenges, has its finalist teams. These finalists came out of the five regional finals held in Boston, San Francisco, Dubai, Shanghai and London on March 12, 2016.  The UMD team, comprised of two grad students, an undergraduate student and an alum, competed in and experienced the regional competition held in Boston.  Although the UMD team did not go through to the next stage of the competition, it was a terrific experience, in terms of exposure, professional and personal learning experience.

The Hult Prize held in Boston, hosted at the Hult International Business School, was fast-paced and dynamic.  There were 58 teams that descended on Boston, from Colombia to France, from India to Nigeria. All sorts of schools were represented and the make-up of teams were as diverse as can be; there were engineers, architects, entrepreneurs, food scientists, bankers, social workers and of course, plenty of business students. It was humbling to be part of such an amazing congregation of people, with such diverse talent and experiences, and all united with the vision to help alleviate poverty in the world’s urban crowded areas.

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Would you choose a cushy Wall Street job or $1M to help solve a global social problem?

The Dingman Center co-sponsored several students that are attending the 2016 Hult Prize regional finals competition in Boston this week. Look forward to more blog posts from attendees.

By Adriana Kao, MBA 2016, CellShare team

The title question was the road in the fork that many Hult Prize participants had to face at some point in their journey. The Hult Prize, created in 2009, is a global case competition that challenges students around the world to develop innovative social enterprise solutions for the most pressing global problems, including provision of clean water, addressing the food crisis, and improving childhood education. The winning team receives $1M in seed funding and continued mentorship to launch their social enterprise idea. Sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it?  All there is standing in the way between your brilliant idea and $1M are 5000 teams from all around the world with equally brilliant ideas.

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