Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

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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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: POSH

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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From left: Elania Tait, Nathalyn Nunoo, William Kwao

POSH

Nathalyn Nunoo, Founder & CEO
William Kwao, Operations & Tech
Elania Tait, Public Relations

Posh logo black.pngPOSH is a web platform that offers a reliable, affordable way to book freelance beauty professionals for any occasion. The task of scheduling a makeup artist typically comes with a number of obstacles and uncertainties: How do I know that the artist will give me the look I want? Are their rates consistent with other makeup artists? What happens if they’re late (and they often are)? How much do I tip, and at what point in the process is it proper to do so? POSH conveniently answers those queries on the back-end to ultimately pair their customers with artists who are vetted, talented and consistently punctual. The payment rates are transparent, the tip is included and all the customer has left to worry about is the event at hand. Makeup artists see a benefit as wellall the complicated logistics of working with a client are handled through POSH, allowing them to concentrate fully on their art. With its emphasis on convenience and customer service, POSH’s initial customer base has inevitably led to a growing list of new clients.

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What’s New with Kanvasroom Co-Founder Aaron Pludwinski

by: Megan McPherson

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This past November, Fearless Founder alumni Aaron Pludwinski ’16 and his co-founder Derien Scott ’17 launched Kanvasroom, a cloud-based communication tool that’s optimized for digital media creatives. The idea for Kanvasroom took shape three years ago while the founders were exploring their own creative pursuits—Aaron in video post-production and Derien in music production—and realized a niche for a website where creatives from around the world could come together and collaborate on projects. Rather than looking to replace existing tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, Skype, Paypal or Basecamp, they envisioned a website where many of the most basic needs these applications provide could exist in one space. The result would maximize efficiency and improve communication, leaving more time and energy for content creation. Eager to act on their idea, they joined the Spring 2015 cohort of Idea Shell, ultimately moving through Fearless Founders on to Hatch in Spring 2016 until Aaron graduated and moved back to his hometown of Miami.

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Kanvasroom’s co-founders: Derien Scott and Aaron Pludwinski

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

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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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CardBuddy: A Stylish Solution to Stick-on Phone Wallets

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.

The 2016 Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Annual Rudy Awards at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at University of Maryland in College Park MD, photographed 5 May 2016.I am still relatively new to the Dingman Center, so when Sam Feldman was called to the stage at this year’s Rudy Awards to accept his award for Student Entrepreneur of the Year, I could not fully appreciate how deserving he was of the title. After talking with him more at Terp Startup and interviewing him for this blog post, I would like to give my full, ringing endorsement of Sam, not only for his accomplishments as an entrepreneur but for his strength of character.

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Dingman EIR Disrupts the Real Estate Industry with Latest Venture, iUnit

 

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UPDATE – Recently, we caught up with Brice to get a few updates on iUnit. Within the next few weeks, iUnit will deliver to tenants the first project and MVP. This video gives the viewer a glimpse into the construction process and community amenities. In additional news, iUnit is expanding its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the world’s largest research centers focused on energy efficiency. The iUnit prototype will be housed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility where it will be used in testing everything from materials used to build the iUnit to energy efficient mechanical systems like iUnits battery and software systems.

It’s an exciting time for Brice and his team. To put a finer point on the company’s progress, Brice commented “iUnit is essentially the electric car of housing.”


February 4, 2015 – Envision the Prius of apartment buildings: wired with the latest “smart” technology, environmentally friendly, affordable, cool. That’s exactly what lifelong entrepreneur Brice Leconte delivers in his latest venture, iUnit.

Brice is one of the Dingman Center’s EIRs (Entrepreneurs-In-Residence), who help UMD students realize their entrepreneurial ideas during the Dingman Center’s weekly Dingman Fridays sessions. A long-time entrepreneur, Brice has a passion for disrupting industries and building socially active companies. He has started and invested in a wide range of businesses, from real estate development, to bricks and mortar, to e-commerce and tech startups. Today, he is focused on disrupting the real estate industry with his latest brand, iUnit.

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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
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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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Final Day of TechCrunch Disrupt ’15

Today’s the final day of TechCrunch Disrupt, the grand finale. We’ve seen some interesting startups present on stage, even more interesting booths in Startup Alley, and today’s the day when we see the winner. The finalists were a diverse bunch:

  • An indoor farming operations platform (Agrilyst)
  • A POS/Inventory system specifically designed for the burgeoning cannabis market (Green Bits)
  • A Mint.com for small business (Leap Financial)
  • A nail decorating robot (Preemadonna)
  • A healthy subscription food model for kids’ lunches (Scrumpt)
  • A Slack-type communications solution for Healthcare (Stitch)

While each of these contenders have an interesting and thoughtful approach to product-market fit, only one will come away with the final cup and the $50,000 grand prize.

This year, it was Agrilyst, a cloud-based solution to manage indoor farming, with Green Bits as the runner up. Interestingly, both top finalists this year seem poised to take advantage of the growth in legalized cannabis consumption. Given the small niche, it’s hard to see Agrilyst as a truly disruptive company in the same league as Uber or Airbnb, but it does seem like a real innovation for the underserved farming industry. Greenhouses are complex, heavily data intensive operations, and owners have previously had to make do with disparate tools like Excel that were not well suited to the job.

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image from TechCrunch

Still, first prize isn’t everything, as the $180 MM funded second placer from years past CloudFlare can attest when they went up on stage. At the end of the day, the real prize at Disrupt isn’t the prize itself, but the attention and credibility in the eyes of investors and the tech media.

Then there’s the other “startup” that launched here at Disrupt. While it’s not one of the contenders on stage, one of the most memorable moments here was seeing Snoop Dogg announce the launch of his new startup, a premium cannabis lifestyle content site dubbed Merry Jane.

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Company tour of LinkedIn

This trip has been a nonstop whirlwind of networking dinners, company tours, and of course the hive of activity here at Disrupt. The passion and awareness for tech and innovation here is both eye-opening and deeply satisfying to see. Even during our last day here at the conference, we still managed to fit in a lunchtime trek to LinkedIn’s downtown office here with a friend to show us around. 

While getting around the city during this trip is a small detail, I think it’s been a telling example of the environment here. We’ve been completely spoiled by the cost and convenience of Lyft Line and UberPool, shared ride services that are a game changer for effortlessly getting around a new city at a low price. It seems like everyone takes it here, with enough demand for most rides you see them continuously pick up and drop off multiple passengers.

droneIt’s been incredible being completely immersed in the tech industry here, a tradition that I hope will hopefully continue into the years ahead.

By: Ying Chen

YingYing graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Marketing, a minor in Biology, and a strong mix of extracurricular experience in graphic design and digital media. He previously worked at JPMorgan Chase in Wilmington, DE working up from intern to a Leadership Development Program rotational analyst, to Marketing Manager. He has a strong interest in technology and product development. 

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