College Park, Md. – May 10, 2010 – Social Growth Technologies, an online digital payment company, took home $15,000 as the top winner at the fifth annual Cupid’s Cup business competition, hosted on May 7 by the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The competition highlights the center’s success starting and growing firms “from the back of the napkin to the first million dollars in financing” and is sponsored by alumnus Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of sports apparel maker Under Armour.
More than 400 people attended Cupid’s Cup and the pre-competition BB&T Business Invitational at the university’s Stamp Student Union. The BB&T-sponsored showcase highlighted University of Maryland and regional start-ups; UM Entrepreneurship organizations, including the Dingman Center and Mtech; and economic development organizations, such as the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the Maryland Technology Development Corp. Attendees voted for the best student and the best non-student company, with the winners – board game maker North Star Games and green energy services company Clean Currents, respectively – taking home awards of $2,000 each.
Plank, a 1996 Smith School graduate, donated the prize money that went to the winning University of Maryland student and alumni startups. He presented the $15,000 first prize and trophy cup to Social Growth Technologies and the $7,500 check to runner-up Crooked Monkey, a graphic T-shirt company. Other finalists were lobster distributor 207 Lobster, engineering field inspector Magaram Engineering, and food distributor Delta Produce. Sam Medile ’80, a successful entrepreneur and former Terp student athlete, sponsored the $3,500 Audience's Choice Award, which went to Crooked Monkey and was decided by the attendees.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the most undersold resources we have as a nation and it’s probably one of the most important resources that the entire world is charging after, particularly the developing nations,” said Plank. “Our goal and the ambition of this competition and the vision of [Smith School] Dean “Anand” Anandalingam and the entire Maryland community is for us to drive and empower entrepreneurship.”
“What’s great to see is the trajectory that the university is on,” said Dan Waetjen, BB&T group president for the Greater Washington region. “It’s doing a great job of incubating these new companies that will provide many jobs throughout this region. As you look for a place to do business, I can’t think of a better place than Greater Washington. We’re so proud to support that with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.”
The name for Cupid’s Cup comes from a Valentine’s Day rose sale business called Cupid’s Valentine, one of Plank’s early entrepreneurial ventures. This small business earned him more than $20,000 during his four years at the university and helped provide the genesis for Under Armour.
Cupid’s Cup has grown every year and highlights the Dingman Center’s more than two-decade-long commitment to provide University of Maryland students with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, obtain feedback from experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence and access funding.
“Our goal is to foster more entrepreneurship out of the University of Maryland,” said Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. “We work with these companies from the beginning to help them become economic drivers for the state of Maryland. It is crucial that we nurture and encourage entrepreneurship at all levels for future U.S. economic growth.”
Cupid's Cup was part of the larger University of Maryland 2010 UM Business Competitions Day organized by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute
(Mtech), which held it's $75K Business Plan Competition.
About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center has been a hub of campus and regional entrepreneurial activity for more than 20 years. Among the Dingman Center's resources are its Capital Access Network (CAN), a pipeline that connects startups from regional tech councils, incubators and state-funded institutions with a network of more than 32 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital. The Center also helps lead the University of Maryland's Technology transfer programs and provides MBA and undergraduate students at the Smith School with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, obtain feedback from experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence and access funding.