Category Archives: Terps

An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: BEEQBOX

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 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 the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.

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Brianna Queen, Founder & CEO

beelogo.pngJunior Information Science major Brianna Queen is the founder of BEEQBOX, a makeup brand targeted to millennials that sells illuminating setting sprays, glitter eyeshadow and lip palettes. Brianna started BEEQBOX in August 2016 as a subscription box service featuring black-owned makeup brands. Once she started getting orders, she decided to work on formulating a product of her own to include. That November, some negative personal experiences gave her the idea to create BEEQBOX’s flagship product, “F*ckboy Repellent”, an illuminating setting spray with packaging that promises its contents are vegan, cruelty-free, all-natural, and will also ward off advances from unworthy men. After sharing a photo of her product on social media it went viral, and was soon featured by popular style sites like Revelist and Instagram influencers who were excited to promote such an on-trend product. As Brianna prepares for Pitch Dingman Competition Finals, she’s looking to take her business to the next level.

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An Interview with Pitch Dingman Competition Finalist: Dark Sonar Technologies

In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 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 the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.


Dark Sonar Technologies

George Lee, Founder & CEO

DarkSonarLogoGeorge Lee, a senior finance major at University of Maryland, came up with the idea for Dark Sonar when he encountered synthetic identity fraud while trying to run his first business, an incentivized advertising website called rewardslive. When he realized that the only available cybersecurity services on the market were too expensive for the size of his business, he decided to develop his own solutions. This experience led to George launching Dark Sonar, a cybersecurity service that is both simple to integrate and affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. Since founding Dark Sonar, George Lee has been accepted into Startup Shell and has participated in the Hatch and Terp Startup phases of the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders Accelerator. Dark Sonar has attracted customers across a variety of industries, and looks to continue to innovate by expanding to prevent theft and fraud in cryptocurrency and blockchain.

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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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5 Reasons the Dingman Center is Smith Proud

Smith Day is a new tradition that celebrates our strong community of Robert H. Smith School of Business students, faculty, staff and alumni. We are innovative, collaborative and driven. We support and empower each other. We are truly proud to be Smith Terps. To celebrate the inaugural Smith Day, we at the Dingman Center would like to share what makes us #UMDSmithProud.

Our Diverse Community


The University of Maryland, College Park campus is one of the most diverse in the nation, and the Smith School is no exception. The student entrepreneurs we see come through the Center come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, and the diversity of ideas we hear daily reflects that. It is truly exciting to meet students with wildly differing perspectives and stories, but who are all looking to explore entrepreneurship.

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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.

Terp Marketplace Brings Homecoming Festivities to the Smith School

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By: Eric Elliot

Fall is here and the entrepreneurial spirit is in the air! To celebrate homecoming weekend at the Smith School, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship hosted Terp Marketplace on Friday; student entrepreneurs set up their businesses and sold their products and services directly to students, staff, faculty and alumni who were participating in the festivities. We had a fantastic turnout of entrepreneurs who were eager to test the market and get feedback on their businesses. Below is the list of students that participated in the event. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported these student entrepreneurs, and we’re already looking forward to the next Terp Marketplace in spring!

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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!


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

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!

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

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!


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!

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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