Tag Archives: technology

Leveling the Playing Field for Cybersecurity with Terp Startup Dark Sonar

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 a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.

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Dark Sonar

Representing cybersecurity startup Dark Sonar in Terp Startup this summer is COO and co-founder Brian Freeman, a rising mechanical engineering junior at University of Maryland. He joined the founding team after CEO George Lee, a rising senior finance major, and CTO Simon Schlegel, a rising senior computer science major, began developing cybersecurity software that is both simple to integrate and affordable for businesses of all sizes. Dark Sonar’s competitors are primarily focused on fraudulent transactions for large corporations, and charge an appropriately large amount for the privilege. The founders of Dark Sonar are looking to focus on the needs of a target market that has been largely ignored by the cybersecurity industry—small and medium sized businesses. The customizable and adaptable subscription model of Dark Sonar will make it easier for any business, big or small, to combat identity fraud.

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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.

winner

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.

LinkedIn

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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Worth Reading 11/15/13

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This week, participants of Fearless Founders presented on the progress of their business ideas to sponsors from Capital One. It was great to see how far they’ve come! We also had a Research and Practice Luncheon discussing the use of crowdfunding. The luncheon promoted engaged interaction between faculty, staff, angel investors and students. Check out some photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Now, here’s the Worth Reading for this week.

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Worth Reading 8/30/13

It was an exciting week for The Dingman Center. We are thrilled to see MBA students coming back to campus for the start of another great academic year. A highlight from the week was Wednesday when the first year MBA students hosted MBA Marketplace, a fundraising competition to test out students’ creativity. Staff had fun using monopoly money to shop at the Marketplace. We also welcomed a new Dingman team member, Adam Van Wagner. Adam is our Community and Venture Programs Coordinator so many of you hear from him via email. When you’re in the office stop by and say hello.

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Let’s check out what’s worth reading for this week:

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Center Stage with Dr. Gloria Jacobovitz, Tech Transfer Committee Member

What are you working on right now?

Right now I consult for startups in the USA, Brazil and Europe. Most recently I co-founded an LED lighting business in Brazil. With the fast pace of development and the World Cup coming up, the country is in need of better infrastructure. In fact, one of the reasons some of the Brazilian cities are so violent is that the streets are not well illuminated. We had eminent contract with six world cups stadiums, large shopping malls, and some cities but we had issues with the supplier and couldn’t move forward in an acceptable time frame.

Where are you seeing the most opportunity right now for entrepreneurs?

In today’s economy, the problem is investment. Software is a wonderful field to be in for an entrepreneur, it doesn’t require much investment and may address some of the major issues today such as harnessing and analyzing enormous volume of information. Some of the most successful companies in the world right now have the least amount of people working for them. It’s one of the only type of startups where  you can be in an early stage and not worry too much about investment.  Biotechnology is also an exciting field to be in.  All the recent innovations in therapeutics and diagnostics create an environment for disruptive technologies to surface.  However, it is a much more expensive, longer and riskier process. At the same time, the federal government is working on creating incentives to encourage entrepreneurship, but funding remains a problem.

Are there greater opportunities in emerging markets right now for entrepreneurs?

Oh yes. There are incredible opportunities, especially in Latin America and the BRIC countries, because a large number of poor people are moving into the middle class. There is need for everything; food, infrastructure, high tech and etc. It is much riskier, though.  There is high level of corruption in a lot of these countries.  You have to really understand the country you’re investing in before you decide to make a move.  The laws right now in many emerging markets are made to be very difficult for the entrepreneur. In Brazil, for example, you need a PhD to understand the tax code. Additionally, the laws are being adjusted and modified frequently. There is a risk of not understanding how the country works or not understanding the culture. In the U.S. people say “let’s make a deal” and they mean it. In Brazil, that may not be the case. You’re guilty until you’ve proven the contrary, especially if you are a “gringo”.

How did you get involved with the Dingman Center?

A friend invited me. I really enjoy it. It’s a great place to see innovation. I love technology and I love business. You can see the potential in some of the technologies. It’s a great way to use my experience and background top help the community.

From my own perspective as a PhD, the Dingman Center provides a great opportunity for the UMD students to become an entrepreneur. When I was a graduate student it never crossed my mind that I could use my ideas to start a company. If I had then the support that Dingman has to offer, I would have started a company a long time ago.

As an entrepreneur, it’s also great to help young people that are creating technologies and don’t know how to take it to the next stage. I’ve learned a lot from the Dingman experience, and I also hope we are adding value for these students. We want to be mentors and cheerleaders to help them succeed in ways they never thought they would.

What traits do all successful entrepreneurs have in common?

Persistence and a bit of shamelessness. If you want to do something innovative, everyone will say you’re crazy. You have to believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail. You have to take a lot of “no” answers and be prepared to fail many times.

Gloria Jacobovitz

Dr. Jacobovitz has over 20 years experience in international entrepreneurship, business strategy and development, fund raising, and marketing with fortune 500 as well as startup companies. She has held senior management positions in Biotechnology, Telecommunication, and Biofuels, has co-founded and supported technology based start-up companies, and is an accomplished researcher with many published peer reviewed papers and 6 filed patents. She has extensively consulted, developed corporate and marketing strategy, business & investment plan for national and international companies that contributed to $1 billion IPO, and millions of dollars in private equity investments and International Development Bank loan.  She holds a MS in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Applied Physics from UNICAMP (Sao Paulo, Brazil).

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