Zombie Run Organizer Wins 7th Annual Cupid’s Cup
An adventure race that has zombies chasing participants to the finish line
might not be everyone’s idea of a good time. But the business certainly has legs
-- race organizers Reed Street Productions
took home $17,500 as the top winner at the seventh annual
Cupid’s Cup business competition, hosted
by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert
H. Smith School of Business on March 30, at the University of Maryland.
With 13 races scheduled across the U.S. this year, Reed Street Productions
expects to bring in over $3 million in revenues and plans to double the number
of events they offer next year. The race operator won over the audience and the
judges – including alumnus Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, the
Baltimore-based leader in performance apparel, footwear and accessories – to win
top prize and the People’s Choice award. They beat out 10G Systems, a web-based
transportation software provider; Route One Apparel, an e-commerce platform for
creative apparel designed by students; Visisonics, a UMD spinout that enables
realistic 3D audio for music, movies and gaming in standard headphones; and
runner-up Food Safety Administration, a provider of online courses for food
service professionals required to earn food and alcohol safety certifications
(winner of $7,500 second prize).
The competition was the highlight of the UMD
Entrepreneurship Invitational, a showcase of the university’s impressive
impact on venture creation and economic development in the region. The audience
of more than 600 heard from campus leaders – President Wallace Loh, Smith School
Dean Anand Anandalingam, and Clark School of Engineering Dean Darryll Pines – as
well as keynotes from
Plank and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
The day began with the launch of Startup Maryland, a statewide initiative of
the White House’s Startup America Partnership to stimulate emerging companies.
The BB&T Business Invitational followed as a lively showcase of thriving
University of Maryland and Washington-Baltimore region startups. Attendees
circulated the Prince George’s ballroom in Stamp Student Union, learning about
new ventures from entrepreneurs at tradeshow-style tables. Then everyone moved
downstairs to pack Hoff Theater for the Cupid’s Cup competition.
The five finalists had six minutes to pitch their businesses to Plank, Rob
McGovern, chairman and CEO of Jobfox and founder of CareerBuilder.com, and a few
other veteran entrepreneurs serving as judges. Then the audience had a chance to
text a vote for their favorite pitch with the judges deliberated and the
University of Maryland pep band roused the crowd.
Before the winners were announced, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley spoke
about the state’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and the university’s
integral role in fueling innovation and new business creation. Plank echoed
O’Malley’s call for entrepreneurship to strengthen the economy, and he inspired
the audience with Under Armour’s story of success.
Then came the winners’ announcement. Dan Waetjen, BB&T group president for
the Greater Washington region, presented prizes from BB&T for participants of
the BB&T Business Invitational, decided by audience vote. Last year’s Cupid’s
Cup winner, My Fridge Rental, won $2,000 for best student/alumni company, and
Veenome won the same for best regional company.
Then Plank presented the big checks and the coveted trophy cup to the winners
of Cupid’s Cup.