Pitch Dingman Competition

Register now to attend Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, VMH!

Pitch Dingman Competition is an annual business competition where University of Maryland students can compete for more than $30,000 in startup funding. The competition consists of a fall Semifinals and a winter Finals competition. Top student entrepreneurs deliver pitches to judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, angel investing and venture capital.

2018 Semifinalists

Algen Air – Kelsey Abernathy, PhD ’20 and Dan Fucich, PhD ’20
AlgenAir creates desktop bioreactors to help home and office space consumers combat the problem of indoor air pollution by using algae to clean the air we breathe.

Aurora Tights – Jasmine Snead ’19
Aurora Tights designs performance apparel for dancers and skaters in the full-color spectrum. By giving performers the option to get tights in their unique skin color, we’re sending the message “You DO belong in this sport.”

Code&Play LLC – Felipe De Padua, MS ’19
Code&Play is an online coding school for kids and teenagers. Learn to code with real engineers in real time.

crepkitchen – Mathew Steininger ’22 and Awsaf Sikdar ’22
Limited edition sneakers and clothing often sell out quickly when stores release them. In order for customers to purchase, they need to have prior knowledge of the store, time, URLs, etc. of the releases. We provide information for them to do so.

Dauntless – Caitlyn Singam ’20
Hazardous medications are becoming an increasingly large part of everyday life, and though they help save lives they can cause harm if improperly handled. Dauntless aims to make the world of medicine a safer place for everyone, one label at a time.

Olympus Projects – Peter Robinson ’19, Zubin Gadhoke ’19
Olympus Projects is an independent management and consulting label on a mission to empower music artists in the digital age. We provide artists with management and consulting services that help them build businesses around their talent.

OpenPoll – Zachary Wynegar ’19
We connect end users to decision makers through web and mobile polling.

Pearl Long Term Care Solutions, Inc. – Myisha Gatson, MBA ’19
Pearl Long Term Care Solutions, Inc. uses FinTech to create a platform for consumers to lock-in long term care costs in real-time by leveraging securitization tools to smooth volatility for families & providers by stabilizing future buying behavior.

Solr Tech – Alexei Onufrak ’20
Solr Tech has created the first way to turn any patio umbrella into a solar charging station, meaning whether you’re at a hotel, by the pool, at a cafe, or at your favorite outdoor study spot, you’ll always have a convenient way to charge up.

Synapto – Dhruv Patel ’20, Chris Look ’20, Anoop Patel ’20, David Boegner ’20, Megha Guggari ’20
Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis always happens too late, leaving patients and families with less options for clinical treatment, financial & legal planning. Synapto uses novel AI models and portable EEG to make diagnosis more accessible & efficient.

Semifinals Judges

Maurice Boissiere '89 - Founder, Higher Calling Ventures
Maurice is a startup coach and consultant committed to helping people turn their concepts into reality. He has more than 20 years of product leadership experience at early-stage ventures and is an Adjunct Professor at UMD.

Benjamin Khakshoor '18 - Product Security Engineer, Flatiron Health
An alumnus of Fearless Founders, Ben and his co-founder Aaron Bloch '17 launched CourseHunter, a platform to revolutionize college registration systems. CourseHunter came in second in the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, and the founders both won Student Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2017 Rudy Awards. Ben is also a former director at Startup Shell.

Juliana Neelbauer, JD '12 - Senior Associate Attorney, Drew Eckl & Farnham
Juliana Neelbauer is an attorney and business ops executive with more than a decade of experience in growth management, team building, policy implementation, business continuity planning, project and team management, contracts negotiation, and enterprise-wide asset management for fast-growth organizations of all sizes.

Polly Vail - Founder, Turnstyle Partners
Polly Vail is an Independent Consultant for startups and social impact clients. She provides customer discovery and acquisition strategies as well as sector analysis for clients. She helps clients become financially stable by developing plans for generating revenue and profits, as well as raising funds. 

Adam VanWagner '11, MPS '15 - Technical Program Manager, Amazon Web Services
Prior to joining Amazon Web Services, Adam worked at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, operating as the Community and Student Programs Manager. As a student at UMD, Adam founded MyFridgeRental.com, a dorm-sized refrigerator rental service. He competed in the 2011 Cupid's Cup student business competition and won first place and $15,000.

Prize Breakdown

Grand Prize: $15,000

Second Place Prize: $7,500

Third Place Prize: $3,500

Audience Choice: $500 at Semifinal Competition and $1,000 at Final Competition

SECU Finalist Award: $500

Other sponsored Prizes: various amounts


Applications open: August 28, 2018 at 12 a.m.

Application deadline: October 15, 2018 at 11:59 p.m.

Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals: November 15, 2018, at 6 p.m. in Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall

Pitch Dingman Competition Finals: March 7, 2019, in Grand Ballroom, Stamp Student Union - Founders Showcase: 5-6 p.m., Competition: 6-7:45 p.m.


All applicants must be a current student at the University of Maryland. Applicants will be evaluated on the uniqueness of their ideas, the current traction and scalability of their business, and the viability of their business as measured by the steps that they have taken to mitigate risks. For the Semifinal and Final rounds, judges will also take into consideration the contestants' progress toward their goals and steps taken to grow their business since time of application.

Completing Your Application

You must complete an application for your team to be considered for the Pitch Dingman Competition. The application consists of a series of questions about you and your business as well as a pitch deck. If selected for the Pitch Dingman Competition, your pitch should be a two-minute presentation providing a brief overview of your business idea. It is meant to help you—as an entrepreneur—to practice and hone your ability to verbalize and sell the idea to early stage investors such as friends and family, angel investors and venture capital firms. The key is to share your passion and enthusiasm for your idea. Your pitch deck should be short (no more than 5-7 slides) and to the point. Some topics to consider including in your pitch deck are:

    1. What problem are you trying to solve?
    2. How big is your problem? Talk about addressable market size.
    3. What is your solution to the problem? What is the value proposition for the customer?
    4. Who are your competitors and why is your solution better?
    5. How will you make money? What are your revenue stream(s)? Marketing and distribution strategy?
    6. Management team—who? What backgrounds and experiences do they bring?
    7. Current traction–do you have existing revenue? Plan moving forward—how will you use the prize money to grow your business and what are your targets for the next six months?

Keep in mind that every business is unique and so should be your presentation. Please practice your presentation several times.

The 2018 Finalists

Symbiont Health - Erich Meissner '18, Maria Chen '19, Kyle Liu '20 - Grand Prize ($15,000)
BEEQBOX - Brianna Queen '19 - Second Place ($7,500)
Dark Sonar Technologies - George Lee '18 - Third Place ($3,500)
Flee - Didac Hormiga '19 - Audience Choice ($1,000)
Emprology - Sydney Parker '18

The 2018 Judges

Robert Hisaoka ’79, Investor and Philanthropist

David Quattrone MBA '05, Co-Founder & CTO, Cvent

Dick Patterson, President & CEO, RRR Automotive

Michele Moore, Vice President of Retail Banking, SECU

Rob McGovern ’83, CEO and Founder at PreciseTarget

Bobby Turnage, Partner at Venable LLP

Connie Weaver ’75, Co-Founder & CEO at Tracker Group

Read the highlights from the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition chaired by Robert Hisaoka '79.


David & Robyn Quattrone Hisaoka


Thank you to our generous donors David & Robyn Quattrone, Robert G. Hisaoka and SECU for providing seed funding for the competition.