North Star Games Wins Cupids Cup
Under Amour's Kevin Plank awards
board-game maker $10K; talks about entrepreneurship
May 19, 2006 the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the first Cupids Cup
business competition for student-run startups at the Robert H. Smith School of
Business. Under Armour Chief Executive Kevin Plank, a 1996 Smith graduate, put
up the $10,000 prize and helped pick the winner of this years competition North
Star Games (www.northstargames.com).
The board game company, founded by 2004 MBA graduates Dominic Crapuchettes
and Satish Pillalamarri, incubated in the Dingman Center and has grown to sell
thousands of copies of award-winning original games Cluzzle and Wits and Wagers.
The duo hopes to have the next blockbuster board game. The $10,000 prize will
help the company add a card game called Secret Signs to its product line.
This event has given us a significant amount of exposure and will help pique
professional investors interest in our company, Crapuchettes said.
final round of the competition included five finalist teams, narrowed from a
field of 20 applicants. Each team had eight minutes to present their business
plans before five judges and a sizable crowd in Van Munching Halls Frank
Other finalists in the closely decided competition were Crooked Monkey (www.crookedmonkey.com),
a t-shirt company targeting high-school and college students; Geocentric (www.geocentric.com),
a software company that engineers interactive Web maps for destination marketing
organizations; Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (www.hookandladderbeer.com),
a microbrewery that produces wheat and brown ales; and Dayna Designs (www.daynau.com),
a designer jewelry company cashing in on the collegiate mid-price jewelry
Eligible contestants had to be enrolled students or recent alumni of the
university and operating companies that had generated at least $5,000 and no
more than $500,000 in revenue prior to entry.
Cupids Cup competition grew out of a lunch conversation between Plank and
Dingman Center Director Asher Epstein. The competitions name refers to one of
Planks early ventures as a student at the Smith School a rose delivery business
he called Cupids Valentine. In school, Planks entrepreneurial spirit inspired
the Pitch Dingman program for students to get feedback from successful
entrepreneurs and center staff on their business plans.
Kevin's entrepreneurial success offers a great example for every company in
the competition and countless other would-be entrepreneurs, Epstein said. With
passion and drive like his, one of the finalists could have the next Under
After the business plan presentations, Plank spoke about entrepreneurship and
his business endeavors, then presented an over-sized $10,000 check and trophy
cup to North Star Games.
encouraged the entrepreneurs to set big goals and go after them full force. He
founded his athletic apparel company Under Armour in his grandmothers basement
while still a Smith student and has grown it into a successful publicly traded
Crapuchettes called Planks story awe-inspiring and could draw parallels to
his own young company. While the foundation of both companies derives from
superior product development, the success of each company rests firmly upon an
ability to create a strong brand based around those products, he said.
Plank, a former Terps football player, compared running a business to being
on a sports team where every player is on the field at the same time, all going
after a win. Its about passion; its about energy; its about drive, he said. He
said he keeps four rules for building his company and encouraged the
entrepreneurs to do the same:
Plank recounted a recent business meeting in China where he pitched Under
Armour to one of the leading footwear manufacturers. The owner admired Planks
drive as an entrepreneur and agreed to the business deal. Plank said his passion
for his products, his vision for the company and the people he has working with
him are the essential components of an entrepreneur.
He encouraged Cupids Cup finalists to determine their passions, create a
vision for their companies and assemble great people to build their startups
into highly successful businesses.
You've got to keep your business going, whatever it takes, Plank said.