Ladies First

Ladies First is the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

Ladies First

The Dingman Center launched the Ladies First initiative in 2016 to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. We are tackling the barriers that prevent our female students from pursuing entrepreneurship, such as the absence of a peer community, less familiarity with startup terms and concepts, and lack of access to mentors and funding.

Read about the research and methodology behind Ladies First here.

Join the Ladies First movement today. If you would like to serve as a speaker or mentor, please complete our Volunteer Interest Form. If you’d like to support the Ladies First initiative as a sponsor or donor, email Sara Herald (

Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D)

Ladies First Founders

Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D) is the Dingman Center’s class for female entrepreneurs at the University of Maryland. Taught by Sara Herald, our Ladies First champion, this one-credit course is open to undergraduate women working on businesses. The inaugural cohort and future cohorts will learn about entrepreneurship, grow their own business ideas, and support each other’s entrepreneurial journeys. The course is a blend of skill-building workshops and networking events. Topics include the how to’s of networking and mentorship, finding balance as a founder/student/human, startup pitching and body language, funding and how to get it, and more.  

The course is open to any female undergraduate at the University of Maryland who is working on a business or social venture. Due to high demand for the course, participants are selected through an application process. Apply here by Jan. 17, 2020 for consideration. The best consideration date is Dec. 9, 2019.

Cohort 2

Sadia Alao '20: Beauty After Dark
Mentor: Shelly Bell, Founder of Black Girl Ventures
A delivery platform where users order beauty goods with personal shoppers. Once expanded and grounded in the market, we plan to stock products and deliver before and after beauty supply stores open and close.

Barathi Aravindan '22: Azelle
Mentor: Kelly O'Malley, Regional Director at The Vinetta Project
Our mission is to support the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay in a fashionable manner and empower women in the field of business by hiring young women in the community. We hope the charms on our bracelets serve as a constant reminder to support the Chesapeake Bay in its longevity.

Leah Barnes '21: Fulfilled
Mentor: Tonia Wellons, Founder, Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund
The purpose of this venture is to create a non- profit that helps students aging out of the foster care system. Statistics show that a low rate of children that age out of the system attend college. This organization will first aim to address those who do matriculate to college by providing them with essential items in the form of a "trunk" or suitcase. We would also pair students with viable resources to ensure graduation after two to four years.

I'Shea Boyd '20: Baltimore Leading Baltimore
Mentor: Erin Janklow, Founder and CEO of Entrada: Employer Sponsored Learning
We contribute to the advancement of our youth by fostering the fearless pursuit of post-secondary education through empowerment and inspiration.

Sabahat Fatima '21: Tailor app (name TBD)
Mentor: Carolyn Yarina, CEO and Co-Founder at Sisu Global Health
This platform will help increase the customer base of tailors, especially ones without a physical shop and changing work hours. Customers are benefited by access to wider range of customization choices. 

Dana Hashem '20: Care for a Terp
Mentor: Deborah Hemingway, PhD '18, Founder and CEO at Leon Scientific
This is a care package system for Terps by Terps. It’s an on-campus care package delivery system that offers more than regular care package items. The Care For A Terp care package allows the customer to order their favorite snacks (including drinks), but also to choose from a variety of items such as fuzzy socks, eye masks or scented candles.

Nazea Khan '20: Clothing app (name TBD)
Mentor: LaKisha Greenwade, MBA '11, Founder of Glam Tech
This revolutionary app is about allowing consumers to try on their clothing items without having to go through the hassle of the fitting room. All they need to do is insert their measurements into the app, scan the barcode, and the app will allow the consumer to know if the clothing item is too tight, too big, just right, etc.

Lara Sharma '22: Ele've
Mentor: Xina Eiland, President and CEO at X+PR
If you're a model or a fashion photographer or someone just trying to launch a product, it can be difficult to form creative contracts and grow your brand. Ele've creates dream fashion editorials at the tap of your finger by allowing you to choose your fashion photographer, art director, model, stylist and makeup artist from a network.

Saba Tshibaka '20: Rendered Inc.
Mentor: Ali von Paris '12, Founder and CEO of Route One Apparel
Rendered is a clothing vending service. The founders visit different consignment shops and thrift stores to find rare items, then do market research to verify the clothes are of value. They subsequently wash/alter the clothes, take pictures and post them online to our following (@renderedinc on IG), ebay, and depop.

Cohort 1

Audrey Awasom '18: Noble Uprising
Noble Uprising is a non-profit organization that empowers women experiencing homelessness through career readiness seminars, workforce development programs, and sustainable job opportunities.

Maria Chen '19Symbiont Health (Grand Prize Winner – Pitch Dingman Competition)
Symbiont Health is developing both wearable and non-wearable automated fall detection devices to combat the high rate of senior citizen morbidity resulting from syncope.

Megha Guggari '20Synapto
Synapto is an early stage biotech venture revolutionizing the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease through portable Electroencephalogram (EEG) and artificial intelligence.

Breonna Massey '18: Slay Naturals 
Being healthy and taking care of skin shouldn’t cost you your wallet or your style. SLAY Naturals infuses style and nature so you can Stay Lovely And Young (SLAY)

Sydney Parker '18Emprology (Finalist- Pitch Dingman Competition)
Emprology LLC is an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate minority female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize off of their content.

Jess Rosenthal '20: Good Stuff Good Works
Good Stuff Good Works facilitates the sales of indigenous artisanal goods from the mountainous region of Ecuador to the University of Maryland community and beyond.

Jasmine Snead '18Aurora Tights
Aurora Tights is an athletic brand that designs performance sports gear for an array of tones, complexions, and sizes.

Natalie Urban '18 and Yinyin Liao '18: Project Girl
PRJ GRL is a coffee venture dedicated to empowering people through coffee. Revenue from our company’s sales goes towards sponsoring impoverished girls’ education in Cambodia. All of our coffee is high-quality, and ethically-sourced from female farmers in Latin America.

Fiona Whitefield '20: Continuum
Continuum assists the growing elderly population to “age in place” by connecting those who are physically unable to maintain their home with skilled retirees who provide home maintenance services, ultimately building a network of social support and empowering those experiencing physical decline to maintain independence.

Bootstrapped Episodes

The Dingman Center regularly features female founders, investors, and ecosystem builders on our podcast, Bootstrapped.  We recommend the following episodes to the Ladies First community: