What are Dingman Fridays?
Have an idea for a business or a solution to a problem worth solving? Dingman Fridays walk-in advising sessions are held every Friday of the semester from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Dingman Center (2518 Van Munching Hall) and open to all UMD students, staff and alumni. No appointment necessary. Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs), guest advisors and Dingman staff are available to listen to your idea, offer feedback and provide actionable next steps. No need to bring a presentation or business plan; just be prepared to share your idea and receive some great advice from our advisors. Learn more about the EIRs here.
Students who attend a Dingman Fridays session should consider joining our Fearless Founders accelerator program that teaches students the Lean Startup methodology. If you have questions, email PitchDingman@rhsmith.umd.edu.
Why Dingman Fridays?
#1 Meet with successful entrepreneurs
#2 Ask questions to those who have already experienced the startup journey
#3 Receive feedback and actionable next steps
#4 Build meaningful relationships with advisors and mentors
#5 Make progress to compete for startup funding
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who can participate?
Dingman Fridays sessions are informal and open to all members of the University of Maryland community including faculty, staff, students and alumni. You do not have to be a Smith School student to participate.
2. Do I need to come with a business plan?
No. All you need is an idea. The advising sessions are flexible to your needs. Whether you thought about the idea this week, or you have been working on it for years, our advisors have been through all those stages and can think about next steps for your business or idea.
3. If not a business plan, what should I use to organize my thoughts about business idea?
The Dingman Center teaches the Lean Startup Methodology, which challenges entrepreneurs to talk to customers and validate key assumptions. A good way to organize those initial thoughts is a tool we developed called the “Idea Shell Canvas”. This tool will help you organize your thoughts about a problem/customer/solution fit so that you can validate assumptions and build a product or service that is most valuable to your customers. This is not required for Pitch Dingman, but can be used as a great resource to help you think about your business idea.
4. Can I sit in on a Dingman Fridays session?
Dingman Fridays sessions are one-on-one between the student and the advisor, so sessions are not open for other students to attend. However, if you want to bring a friend or potential teammate to sit in on your advising session, that is acceptable. All students are also welcome to attend Pitch Dingman Competition to watch students pitch their business ideas live for seed funding.
5. What can I expect from Dingman Fridays?
You can expect to leave Dingman Fridays with actionable next steps to work on for your business or idea. The more effort and progress we see the entrepreneur demonstrate on acting on those next steps, the more resources such as time, workspace and funds the Dingman Center is able to invest. The initial pitch and feedback session will be a concise pitch about your problem/customer/solution fit and a chance to discuss areas where you need guidance. As the entrepreneur demonstrates initiative in acting on those next steps, they will have greater access to the Dingman Center team and Entrepreneurs-In-Residence.
6. Do I have to wear a suit?
No. Dingman Fridays is informal and there is no dress code.
7. I still have more questions. Who do I ask?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you.