Category Archives: Tips & Advice

An open letter to aspiring female entrepreneurs

By: Julia Klein

Have you ever identified a problem and thought to yourself, “Someone should invent something that solves this?” Have you ever thought to yourself, “I have a better way of doing this?”

If you answered yes, you may not have realized it at the time, but you were thinking like an entrepreneur. Maybe you seized the moment and brought your idea to life but, more likely, you made an excuse for why being an entrepreneur wasn’t right for you. I know this because, before taking the leap and starting my business, I navigated through miles of these same excuses.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common objections raised by potential female founders:

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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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An Insider Look at MSEC with Rachel George

At its core, Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps or “MSEC” is a nine-credit, eight-week summer study abroad program for students interested in a social entrepreneurship internship in Ecuador, Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic. During their stay, students visit remote rural towns with limited resources to conduct health and well-being campaigns, as well as consult with local cooperatives, entrepreneurs and community groups. Knowing Spanish is not required, but with classes and immersion many students come out of the program able to hold conversations with a native speaker.

We wanted to hear what the MSEC experience is really like, so we turned to Rachel George, ’16, a Marketing and English double major student who took the program last summer. The photos below are all from her incredible photo blog of her stay in Ecuador.

DC: Why did you sign up for MSEC?

RG: It was a combination of things. A lot of it was that I hadn’t had a chance to do a semester abroad, so this was a chance for a longer study abroad experience that I didn’t have to take a semester off for. I wanted to explore the social justice sector because that was something I was interested in but didn’t have much experience with. It also gave me a chance to practice my Spanish. Another appeal of it was that it was interdisciplinary consulting projects. I’m in the QUEST program so that’s something I’m already familiar with—working with other majors is something I really love.

DC: At MSEC you stay with a host family. What was that experience like for you?

RG: I went to Ecuador and I stayed with four different host families, so the longest I was with them was for 4 weeks. The family I bonded the most with was when I was in the northern region of the country. It was in a very rural village where there wasn’t very much to do in the evenings besiddownloades stay in with our host families. I stayed with them for two weeks.  I was living with a single mom and her 15 year-old daughter. At nighttime we’d talk, play cards, my host sister would show me music that she liked and I got to hear more about them—stories that the mom would tell me about being a single mother supporting her daughter with multiple different jobs: she ran a store, she had livestock, she sold clothing that she knit. It was a great learning experience. I’m still friends with my host sister on Facebook.

DC: What was your favorite thing you did through MSEC? Both academically and for fun.

RG: Academically…my favorite point was actually a health campaign we did that was in a town called Simiatug. We did eye exams for a TON of people—a couple hundred people. At that point we were at the end of the trip, so my Spanish was definitely a lot better than it was at the beginning, and it was really satisfying because I spent several hours straight giving eye exams and I rarely needed to call a supervisor over to translate. It was great.  For fun…exploring the city. We had a home base in the city of Cuenca and for a couple weeks at a time we would go out to rural areas. While we were in Cuenca, which is a beautiful city, I went out almost every night and explored the town. There was a church up on a hill that overlooked the entire city. The city is cupped in the middle of these mountains, so you can climb up to the church and see the entire city at night and it’s beautiful.

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DC: What did you take away from the experience?

RG: Personally, the biggdownload (2)est thing that I got out of the trip was that after coming back I’m definitely more conscious and more grateful for my own circumstances. I remember one of the things that our supervisors said to us: “If you take nothing else from this trip, nothing from the work or even the program, take the experiences you had, the people you met, the things they taught you.” And he told us that “this trip is about learning that you have a comfort zone, and there’s a reality outside of it. There are people struggling to live and support their families every day, and you can do something to help them.” It’s important to remember that there are people outside your reality, people who have different experiences from you. But also that you can help.

DC: Would you recommend MSEC to other students?

RG: Yes I would. I would not give up the experiences that I had for anything.

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Thinking about applying to a business competition? Five tips from Elana Fine

For b-schools, incubators and other organizations that support startups, business competitions are very hot right now. For entrepreneurs, they can be great opportunities to flex your entrepreneurial muscles and gain traction for your startup or business idea.

CC-04Apr14-635_hr However, with a seemingly endless list of competitions to choose from and limited time, how do you decide which competitions to enter?

Here are five things to consider from Dingman Center Managing Director, Elana Fine:

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What’s happening at the Dingman Center?

Every two weeks, the Dingman Center distributes The Pitch, which highlights important happenings in our community. In case you missed it, here’s a look at what’s up in entrepreneurship:

Dingman Center Offers Lean Startup Program Exclusively for UMD Alumni

jumpstartThe Dingman Center has created a unique program to help UMD alumni entrepreneurs jumpstart their startup ideas. Dingman Jumpstart will help alumni de-risk their ideas using the principles of the highly effective Lean Launchpad methodology. The eight-week program kicks off with a  boot camp weekend (Jan. 9-11) featuring interactive workshops, lectures and intense customer discovery. The program continues with two additional workshops in February and March. In the end, alumni should be equipped to make a “go or no-go” decision on their idea.

Campus partners include the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, DC-ICorps and Mtech. The full schedule, program materials and registration information is available online.

Don’t miss the opportunity to jumpstart your business idea. Register by December 12.

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Worth Reading 5/16/14

This week is National Small Business Week! The U.S. Small Business Administration spent the week hosting events from San Francisco to Washington D.C. Celebrate your favorite small businesses by using #sbw104. Now, here is what’s worth reading:

 

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Worth Reading 4/25/14

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As the spring semester draws to a close, the Dingman Center will host our final Pitch Dingman Competition for the 2013-14 academic year. The competition is set for next Thursday, May 1 at 5:30 p.m. Click here to register!

Now, let’s sit back and read what we have for this week’s Worth Reading:

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Worth Reading 4/18/14

This week at the Dingman Center we heard round one of the Fearless Founders‘ final presentations. The program guides student ventures from idea to launch using lean startup methodology. The final presentations showcase the customer discovery conducted throughout the course, how the student has pivoted to develop their MVP. At the upcoming Pitch Dingman Competition on May 1, Capitol One will announce those Fearless Founders who will receive $500 MVP Grants.
After seeing all these great student pitches, we’re certainly ending our week on a high note. Before heading out for the weekend, check out what’s Worth Reading:

  • In 2013, licensed products amounted for 110 billion in the US and Canada, but the licensing process is fairly complicated and often confusing. Read this article to grab five practical tips from a recent successful entrepreneur.
  • Household brands were built from a penny. Take a look at Enough Money To Start (infographic) and see how much it took to start an international brand.
  • The numbers of female entrepreneurs are rapidly increasing, but do you know which cities are ideal for them to thrive? Check out this article.
  • In Dingman Center, we teach college and graduate students how to become entrepreneurs. And today, more similar programs have been built, but the students are getting younger. Read Teaching Children How To Be Entrepreneurs and learn what students could have learned.
  • The World’s Top Ten Most Innovative Companies In Travel In 2014 were revealed. Check it out.

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Worth Reading 3/28/14

Cupid’s Cup, the nation’s toughest business competition, will take place one week from today at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland. Are you ready?

Here’s what is worth reading this week.

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