Tag Archives: MBA

Ladies First Profile: The Story Behind 2B

This story 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.

By: Nina Silverstein

I began every year of my teaching tenure in Baltimore by asking my students what they wanted to be when they grew up. My kindergarten and first grade students were eager to announce that they were going to be a teacher or a police officer or a football player. A select few said they wanted to be doctors or firefighters. I noticed that when I called my students “Dr. Demetira” or “Police Officer Denard”, their interest and engagement in their schoolwork peaked. Additionally, when my school held a career day, I again saw the level of engagement in school peak. It was as if the students saw the possibilities of future endeavors appear before them and helped them realize why school was important to achieving that.

2B colors.pngThat was when the idea for 2B emerged. 2B is a mission-driven clothing company aimed at expanding children’s horizons and helping them to envision themselves as a variety of different occupations when they grow up. 2B seeks to help students learn about different careers by providing books and clothing centered around each occupation, which helps to provide reasoning for why school is an important factor to their future success. We aim to make the connection between hard work in school and future attainment of their dreams. In order to ensure that all children benefit from envisioning their dreams, 2B will be donated to under-resourced schools so that every child, regardless of background, has the same access to opportunity and the same ability to envision themselves as anything they want to be when they grow up.

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Hisaoka Fellow Interns at an Early Stage Real Estate Startup

This summer, several Smith MBA students have been interning at startups through the Hisaoka Fellowship program. Hisaoka fellows are awarded a $5,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.

Arjun Goel – Martin Development Corporation

Tell us about Martin Development Corporation. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?

Martin Development Corp is a real estate investment company focused on building a mixed-use, retail centric real estate portfolio in the District of Columbia. The company’s primary target acquisitions are located within the Eastern Core of DC (loosely defined as Connecticut Ave NW through H St NE), which contains over 2.1m SF of retail space not affiliated with a major project. The company focuses on creating an equal distribution of the following two types of retail asset classes within a target deal size of $2.0m-$25.0m:

  • Fully or partially occupied existing retail space in the established corridors of the District with existing income and immediate or future rental growth.
  • Vacant building, Raw Land or Retail condos from multifamily, office and hotel developers in the Eastern Core both for stabilizing projects and entitled but not yet completed projects.

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Hisaoka Fellow Interns at Smith Alum Startup Rybbon

This summer, several Smith MBA students have been interning at startups through the Hisaoka Fellowship program. Hisaoka fellows are awarded a $5,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.

Jennifer Hwang – Rybbon

Tell us about Rybbon. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?

Rybbon delivers egift cards for businesses to prospects and customers, and for market researchers to survey respondents. Rybbon’s integration with Marketo, Hubspot, and SurveyMonkey enables Rybbon users to automate gifting. Users can also send gifts directly through Rybbon’s platform. What sets company apart is that Rybbon lets its users own the gifting experience. Users can customize the gift email and the landing page, and the gift email arrives from the user’s own email address. Recipients can easily see who the email is from (not a third party) and appreciates the gift. This helps the sender increase engagement with the recipient.

Of course other gift delivery services exist, but users lose the opportunity to create engagement with their customers when a third party delivers the gifts. The first time I met the CEO of Rybbon, Jignesh Shah, he explained it to me this way and it stuck with me: It’s like buying a ring and sending the jeweler to propose to your fiancé!

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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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Adventure Challenge: China – In Country Prep and Customer Discovery

By Philip Webster

Conducting customer discovery for a product aimed at the Chinese market while you’re actually in China is an eye opening experience. After weeks of refining our business plan in the U.S., the chance to talk directly to potential customers has been invaluable. Yesterday Justin and I were fortunate enough to pitch an abbreviated version of our business plan to a delegation of business and educational leaders in the city of Bengbu. Afterwards we received a lot of feedback from students who attended the presentation.

Me and Vivian negotiating her intern salary

Me and Vivian negotiating her intern salary

One student, Vivian, came right up to me afterwards and told me exactly why our business wouldn’t work in China. When I defended our plan she continued to elaborate on exactly why it wouldn’t work and she convinced me that we did indeed have a few holes in our pricing scheme and our bring to market strategy. Luckily, Vivian is a marketing major and had a ton of great ideas on how to fix the product and market to young people in China. I’m hoping she’ll be the first unpaid intern for our company! (Vivian was also instrumental in encouraging our table at dinner to drink a concoction that I referred to as Dragon’s Blood, that began a series of hilarious and bizarre events that Justin blogged about yesterday.) Continue reading

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Kicking Off the AdVENTURE Challenge: China – First Impressions

By Philip Webster

After a brief fifteen-hour flight, Tiffany and I arrived in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon. Upon arrival I was seriously questioning my decision to pull an all-nighter the night before we left Maryland. I was trying to reset my body clock on Day One of this trip and planned to be so tired on the plane that I would sleep the whole time on the plane and arrive in China completely ready for action. I don’t usually sleep well airplanes even when I’m exhausted, so I brought a sleeping pill to make sure I could get some quality zzz’s just in case. Unfortunately my desire to watch the in-flight movie, Night at the Museum 3 (don’t judge) counteracted some of the soporific effects of the Ambien and I only slept for about four hours. So, the first thing I did after arriving in this amazing country for the first time was take a nap.

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Part-time MBA Launches Grey Matter, A Terp Startup that Protects First Responders

WebImagine a technology that could protect first responders and law enforcement agents from dangerous chemicals.

Not only would the technology protect agents from such chemicals, it would actually block the chemicals from clothing, turn them into water and cause the toxic chemicals to evaporate before even having a chance to touch agents’ skin. That is what the technology behind DC-area startup, Grey Matter, claims to deliver.

The venture, co-founded by part-time Smith MBA student Tommy Luginbill, recently secured $75,000 in federal grant funding to bring this potentially lifesaving, self-decontaminating clothing technology to agents in the field.

How did Grey Matter get its start?

Tommy Luginbill, Grey Matter

Tommy Luginbill, Grey Matter

Tommy Luginbill is no stranger to entrepreneurship. A part-time MBA student, Tommy comes from a line of entrepreneurs and even helped to start a family-run solar contracting business before business school. Given his strong interest in startups, Tommy started hanging out at the Dingman Center (one of the resources that drew him to UMD) and even pitched an idea to an EIR for an energy software venture.

Dr. Brandy Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Brandy Johnson, Ph.D.

As Terps are known to do, Tommy worked tirelessly and fearlessly dove into the courses available around the Smith School, including the Fearless Founders program. He learned of a new pilot program at the time on campus called iCorps, which matched business students with lab innovations to identify viable commercialization paths. It was here that Tommy met inventor Dr. Brandy Johnson, a Ph.D. working in the Naval Research Lab.

Dr. Johnson was developing smart anti-decontaminating materials made from chitosan, a biopolymer made by treating recycled crab shells. Tommy knew about the lean startup methodology, how to create a business plan, and how to conduct customer discover and identify markets.

And Grey Matter was born.

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Event Recap: The Silk Road Rediscovered with Professor Anil Gupta

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Professor Anil Gupta, Dingman Chair in Strategy & Entrepreneurship

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of just that: innovators who give life to new ventures that drive economic and social value creation everyday around the world.  Who better to talk with Smith School students about the importance of international entrepreneurship than than global innovation expert, Professor Anil Gupta, the Michael Dingman Chair in Strategy and Globalization at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

On Wednesday, Nov.19, Prof. Gupta led a lunchtime discussion with Smith graduate students and faculty around his latest book, “The Silk Road Rediscovered,” which examines the business and cultural relationships between the emerging countries, India and China.

Though these countries have been around for thousands of years, India and China are more entrepreneurial than ever. As Prof. Gupta shared, these economic super-giants are growing faster than ever, and are poised to surpass the GDP of the developed countries such as the U.S., Japan and Germany in the next 10-20 years.

“Professor Gupta gave very interesting insights into India and China,” said Seth Faulb, a 2015 MBA candidate and president of Smith’s Entrepreneurship Club. “The most interesting thing from the discussion, I thought, was how in the last 2,000 years the global economy was dominated by these two countries and, given conservative estimates, it is very likely to return that way in only 10 years. It sounds to me like the more developed world needs another huge event like the industrial revolution to keep the competitive advantage they have held for the last 100 or so years.”

As future business leaders, a solid understanding of the economic growth and business opportunities in China and India is paramount. At Smith, we are privileged to have such worldly, expert professors, like Prof. Gupta, who can share not only the business implications but also the cultural nuances that will help us work more effectively with diverse teams.

“No matter what career path we are pursuing, at some point it will be very beneficial to have an understanding of the Chinese and Indian economies and the unique characteristics that define each,” said attendee and 2015 MBA candidate, Patrick Gillece. “There are few people who are as knowledgeable and as effective in communicating those issues as Dr. Gupta, so I really appreciated the opportunity to hear from such a renowned expert in the field.”

Anil K. Gupta is the Michael Dingman Chair in Global Strategy & Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business, at the University of Maryland at College Park. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on strategy, entrepreneurship and globalization. Thinkers50 has named him as one of the world’s 50 most influential management thinkers and has been named by The Economist as one of the world’s “superstars” in a cover story on “Innovation in Emerging Economies.” Click here for more information about Dr. Gupta and his latest book, “The Silk Road Rediscovered.”

IMG_5316The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Global Initiatives lead a program that brings Smith MBA students to China each year. This year, students will travel from Shanghai to Beijing where they will participate in the 9th Annual China Business Model Competition. Click here to register or learn more about the program.

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Catching Up With Dingman Venture Fellow Bethy Hagan

By Danielle Bennings

Second-year MBA student, Bethy Hagan was not the traditional MBA candidate. After completing her undergraduate degree in liberal arts at the University of Virgina, she wasn’t interested in the corporate culture and stumbled into a job at a startup in California. Although it wasn’t what she initially envisioned for herself, Bethy fell in love with the exciting startup culture on the west coast. Knowing she wanted to move back to her hometown of Baltimore, MD, she searched for top-tier entrepreneurship centers in the area, which brought her to the Smith School and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. Bethy dove in head first during her first year as a Smith MBA. You may remember her as one of the guest bloggers from the AdVENTURE Challenge: China and as a member of the winning team at the China Business Model competition!

 

Grand Prize winning team, Wireless ISP, with Smith School and Peking University leadership.

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AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Preparing For the Competition

By Gwen Gurley

In less than a week, my classmates and I will be setting foot in China; a part of the world I never thought I’d have the opportunity to visit. I have to say, it is going to be awesome.

This trip is certainly a lot more than a sightseeing adventure though. For the last seven weeks, my classmates and I have been meeting with our teams, researching the Chinese market, writing and rewriting business models, pitching our businesses and reaching out to experts and experienced business people, all in an effort to have the best business idea for China. Each of the teams is made up of four or five members and each team constitutes one business. In total there are 12 teams in the program with business models ranging from mobile travel apps, wireless internet service providers, and even a robotic cocktail making machine.

The members of the class are not only geographically diverse (we have classmates in College Park, Beijing and Tel Aviv) but they also have extremely different backgrounds. As you can imagine, this makes the process of building a business model with so many individuals extraordinarily interesting and rewarding.  Every other week the students based in College Park meet to hear each other’s pitches and make suggestions on areas of development for each business. Our pitches are also videotaped and posted so that foreign-based students can leave feedback as well.

While preparing for the AdVENTURE Challenge: China competition hasn’t been easy, it certainly has brought all of us a great appreciation for the complexities of international business and entrepreneurship. In these last few days leading up to the trip, the teams will be meeting to finalize changes in their business models and continue with their research. But once we’re in China the work doesn’t stop there! We’ll still have prep time to rework our businesses in between sightseeing, company visits and meeting with our Chinese classmates at Peking University, a.k.a. Beida (pronounced Bay-da).

Beida is one of the most prestigious universities in China and was the first modern national university in the country when it was established in 1898 to replace the ancient university of Guozijian. Not only is Beida considered a top research university, but it is also widely recognized for the beauty of its campus as it is situated on a former royal garden with lots of green open space, a lake, and plenty of traditional Chinese architecture. While there, we will meet with our Chinese classmates and review our business models one last time before the competition is held there. Then, we’ll compete head-to-head in front of local business professionals, VCs and entrepreneurs, a winner will be announced and prizes will be claimed!

It feels like we’ve already been on this trip for the last several weeks, and the culmination of the journey in China is going to be truly amazing. Wish us luck and safe travels!

Gurley_G-21Aug13-14 (1)Gwen Gurley is a 1st year MBA student focused on Marketing Strategy and Business Development. She is a former teacher and small business owner who decided to follow her passion for business and entrepreneurship to the Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is currently working with local DC startup Betterific as their head blogger and content marketer. Upon returning from China she will begin a summer marketing internship with Distil Networks in Arlington.

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