Idea Shell

Idea Shell is currently not-for-credit. There are three workshops, advising and a final presentation required for the program. We accept approximately 20 teams each semester. Upon completion of the program, 10 students from the Idea Shell stage will be eligible for seed-stage grants. 

Course Description

Fearless Founders is an experiential program that provides student teams the strategy, frameworks and tools necessary to develop their business ideas using lean startup methodology. In the Idea Shell stage, students learn how to:

  • Identify and validate a problem/customer/solution fit
  • Interview and learn from customer interviews
  • Begin developing a minimum viable product

The workshops are held weekly on Tuesdays from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. beginning February 21st and ending on April 25th.

Click here to register. 

Registration Deadline is February 14th at 11:59 p.m.


Maurice Boissiere
Smith School Adjunct Faculty

Chris Rehkamp
Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Student Venture Programs Manager 

Eligibility for Grants

Upon completion of the course, students will present their progress to a panel of Dingman Center staff, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and Capital One representatives. Up to ten students at the Idea Shell stage are eligible for up to $500 in Capital One seed grants.  Grants will be awarded based on the following criteria:

  • Student(s) demonstrate commitment to their startup and the Fearless Founders program.  Metrics include thoughtful and creative utilization of Dingman Center resources, implementation of lean startup methodologies to learn from customers and iterate on ideas, continued attendance at workshops, and completion of deliverables.

  • Student(s) have tested hypotheses to invalidate or validate assumptions and business model by identifying and interviewing prospective early customers

  • Student(s) have a clear and efficient plan to use their funds.

Participation Expectations

  • Attend all six weeks of Idea Shell; some exceptions can be made based on course schedules

  • Completion of in-class activities

  • Complete 1 Dingman Fridays Advising sessions

  • Customer discovery & experimentation (Goal of 20+ interviews)

  • Attend Final presentation days


  • Final Presentation

Suggested Readings

Robert H. Smith School of Business
Map of Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
Robert H. Smith School of Business
Van Munching Hall
College Park MD 20742