Pitch Dingman Competition

Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center’s signature annual competition, provides the university’s most talented student entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete for seed funding and exclusive access to venture development resources. This year, the Dingman Center had more prize money available than ever before and three competition tracks for University of Maryland students to compete. Students from any college or major can now compete for over $90,000 in non-dilutive startup funding.

Beyond funding, the competition provides a vehicle for entrepreneurs to learn the skills needed to grow their ventures and deliver a successful venture pitch. In the finals, the top student entrepreneurs deliver pitches to an expert panel of judges composed of founders and investors.

2023 Competition Tracks

Track 1: The David and Robyn Quattrone Tech Venture Track

This track is targeted to students with scalable, tech or tech-enabled ventures that already have traction (revenue, users, investment and/or grants, customer interviews, etc.) but no minimum revenue is required. 

Grand Prize: $30,000

2nd Place: $10,000

3rd Place: $1,000

Round 3 Prize: $500; $6,500 in AWS Activate Credits

Audience Choice Prize: $1000

Track 2: Main Street Track

This track is for small businesses with revenue ($1,000 minimum) and initial customers but not focused on scale.

Grand Prize: $20,000

2nd Place: $7,500

3rd Place: $1,000

Round 3 Prize: $500; $6,500 in AWS Activate Credits

Audience Choice Prize: $1000

Track 3: Idea Track

This track is an idea-style challenge for students who do not yet have a developed venture. Students must have started their venture after June 1, 2022, to be eligible. Ventures pre-revenue are encouraged to apply, and must not have made more than $1,000 in lifetime revenue.

Grand Prize: $3,000 and guaranteed admission to our Terp Startup Accelerator summer program.

2nd Place: $2,000

Track 4: All Stars USM Track

Pilot competition track for recent, previous winners of University System of Maryland entrepreneurship competitions.

Grand Prize: $10,000

Specialty Prizes:

All Main Street Track and Quattrone Tech Track ventures that advance to Round 2 or Round 3 are eligible for the following specialty prizes, with a $1,000 award each: 

1. Best Graduate
2. Best Smith Student Founder or Team
3. Ladies First Founders
4. Social Impact
5. Sustainability  

2023 Competition Dates

  • Applications open: January 17, 2023, at 12 a.m.
  • Application deadline: February 5, 2023, at 11:59 p.m.
  • Round 2: February 24, 2023
  • Round 3: March 31, 2023
  • Finals: April 18, 2023, at Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center

Eligibility

All current University of Maryland - College Park (UMD-CP) and UMD-CP at Shady Grove students, both graduate and undergraduate, are welcome to apply. Applicant teams must be composed of at least 50% UMD-CP students as part of the founding team and currently serving on the lead management team. Ventures of any industry are welcome. All current students as well as students that graduated in Winter 2022 are eligible to apply.

You must complete an application for your team to be considered for the Pitch Dingman Competition. You may indicate which track you prefer in the application. Based on your interest and your application responses, the Dingman Center will make the final decision on which track your venture will compete in.

All tracks' applications consist of a series of questions about you and your business as well as a pitch deck, though there are some track-based differences below.

The Ideas Track: Be prepared to answer what your venture idea does, what problem it solves, and for whom. Additionally, you will prepare a short pitch presentation (no more than 5-7 slides) providing a brief overview of your business idea. While the video should cover most of the information from your pitch deck, feel free to be creative in how you communicate this information. Some topics to include in the pitch deck are:

  • What problem are you trying to solve? How many people have this problem?
  • What is your solution to the problem?
  • Previous attempt(s) at solving this problem and why is your solution better?
  • How will you make money?
  • Founder team – What backgrounds and experiences do they bring?
  • Use of prize funds

The Quattrone Tech Venture Track and Main Street Track: In addition to some clarifying questions, you will prepare a short pitch 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 for the application questions and to include in your pitch deck are:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How big is your problem? Talk about addressable market size.
  • What is your solution to the problem? What is the value proposition for the customer?
  • Who are your competitors and why is your solution better?
  • How will you make money? What are your revenue stream(s)? Marketing and distribution strategy?
  • Management team – What backgrounds and experiences do they bring?
  • 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?

Teams will also want to submit materials that will be used in print, web, and other media including:

  • Team descriptions
  • Team/team member photos
  • Product or prototype photos (if applicable)
  • Company logo (high-resolution files)
73%
of finalists that competed in Pitch Dingman Competition since 2016 are still currently operating their businesses.
Jasmine Snead pitching Aurora Tights
Aurora

Aurora, founded by Sydney Parker ’18, Imani Rickerby ’17, and Jasmine Snead ’18, MBA/MPP 2021, won the $15,000 grand prize at the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition. Aurora designs inclusive athletic apparel and hosiery for dancers and ice skaters of all skin tones and sizes. The team also participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2018 and is a 2021-22 Terp Startup Fellows venture. Aurora products are now available nationwide, and can even be spotted on the newest Shondaland show, “Inventing Anna,” and the Broadway show “SIX”!

Visit the Aurora website
Curu at PDC
Curu

Curu, founded by David Potter and Abb Kapoor, won the $15,000 Grand Prize as well as the $1,500 Audience Choice at the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition. Curu is a website and mobile application that assesses spending habits and offers ways to optimize the user’s credit score. The Curu founders also participated in Terp Startup Accelerator during the summer of 2016. In May 2020, Curu secured a $3M seed funding round, led by Vestigo Ventures.

Visit the Curu website
Caroline Ta
SweetsbyCaroline

SweetsbyCaroline, founded by Caroline Ta ’21, won the $1,000 PPE Award at the 2020 Pitch Dingman Competition. SweetsbyCaroline is a baking business that specializes in custom gluten-free french macarons, as well as cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts that are perfect for engagements, weddings, parties, and other events. Ta also participated in Terp Startup Accelerator, Ladies First Founders, and was selected to receive the 2021 Rudy Award for Student Entrepreneur of the Year. Operating out of Germantown, MD, SweetsbyCaroline products are available for sale at various Maryland shops, as well as pop-ups and online orders.

Visit the SweetsbyCaroline website

Past Competitions

2022 Winners

Thomas Savransky Entrepreneurial Award ($10,000): Quandary - Bryan Houlton ’23, Ryan Downing '22

Specialty Prizes ($1,000):

  1. Best Graduate Founder or Team: Gelectric Medical INC - Leah Borden PhD ’22, Matthew Dowling PhD '10
  2. Best Maryland Smith Student Founder or Team: Pet Passport - Dorian Stephens MBA ’22, Alex Sonnie MBS '22, Anthony Small MBA '22, Ogugua Obii-Obioha MBA '22, Shahriar Jahanbani MBA '22, Dorian Stephens MBA '22, Musangu Tanguy Bukasa MBA '22
  3. Ladies First Founders: Crys & Co Cosmetics - Crystal Pinckney ’22
  4. Social Impact: WISE Cities, LLC - Marie Brodsky ’24, Katherine-Aria Close '23
  5. Sustainability: Repurpose Farm Plastic LLC. - Krisztina Christmon ’22, Benjamin Rickles PhD ’23

Founders Showcase Audience Choice Award: Tap In - Zach Lefkovitz ’24, Samai Patel ’25, Robert Castro ’24, Nathan Tablang ’24, Corben Vorheees ’25, Matthewos Gashaw ’25, Joseph Beckman ’25, Edward Awe ’25, Neil Kundagrami ’24 and Amrit Magesh ’25

Fearless Ideas Track:

Grand Prize ($5,000): Reglass - Bennett Greenspun ’24

Main Street Track:

Audience Choice Prize ($1,000): MatMate - James Dawson ’24

3rd Place ($1,000): North Star Creations - Mat Parsons, MBA ’22

2nd Place ($7,500): MatMate - James Dawson ’24

Grand Prize: ($20,000): Omega 3 LLC - Edwin Bright Djampa ’22

The David and Robyn Quattrone Venture Track:

Audience Choice Prize ($1,000): Vitalize - Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23, Veeraj Shah ’21

3rd Place ($1,000): Quandry - Bryan Houlton ’23, Ryan Downing '22

2nd Place ($10,000): Chat Health - Aishwarya Tare ’22

Grand Prize ($30,000): Vitalize - Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23, Veeraj Shah ’21

2022 Finals Judges

David Quattrone MBA '05

Co-Founder & CTO, Cvent

David Quattrone is co-founder and CTO at Cvent, for which he designed and supervised the development of Cvent's original beta product as well as all of Cvent's subsequent product releases, upgrades and redesigns.

Chris Ballenger

Founder & CEO, APEX Strategies

Tom Parsons ’93, MBA ’10

President, Parsons Ventures, Inc.

Thomas formed Parsons Ventures, Inc. and purchased B&R Associates in 2012, an automotive equipment company. He has established himself as a respected leader in the automotive equipment industry, having been named to several manufacturer distributor councils, and he is a board member on the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association (WANADA). 

Ngozi Azubike '82

Chief Operating Officer, OBAN Corporation

Ngozi is an entrepreneur/consultant with 25+ years of experience in business startup, growth/acquisition, and operations with major U.S. corporations and governments. Her areas of expertise are business strategy, business transformation, and entrepreneurship. Her clients include executives in commercial firms and billion dollar federal agencies. 

Sarah Frimpong

CEO & Founder, Wellfound Foods

Sarah Frimpong (Frim) is the CEO + Founder of Wellfound Foods in Washington, D.C. Since 2013, Frim has grown the Wellfound from humble beginnings in a local food incubator to providing full-scale wholesale distribution of its fresh grab and go sandwiches, salads, grain bowls, and breakfast items to over 50 different sites in the region each week. 

Akash Magoon ’18

Co-Founder & CTO, Nayya

Akash Magoon is the co-founder of Nayya, a healthtech company based in New York City that personalizes the way that Americans choose and use their medical insurance and employee benefits. Nayya was founded in 2019, and they most recently announced their $55m series-C funding in March of 2022 - bringing total funding to north of $100m since inception. Akash was named 2022 Forbes' 30 Under 30, holds multiple patents in the domains of machine learning and healthcare, and is a University of Maryland Computer Science graduate in the 2018 class. Prior to founding Nayya, Akash started another healthtech company as a student at UMD, and also led software teams at Amazon Web Services and Enigma Technologies after graduating. Akash was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, and he is proud that Nayya has a growing team of Terrapins and Maryland natives.

2021 Winners

Main Street Track

Audience Choice ($1,000): Hana's Cake Bar – Hana Bekele ’21
Hana's Cake Bar is a bespoke bakery that tailors to every customers' needs for baked goods.

2nd Place ($5,000): STEPS Inc. – Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23, Uzair Chaudhary ’23
STEPS connects volunteers with paying K-12 families seeking personalized, 1 on 1, and long-term tutoring.

Grand Prize ($15,000): Fancy & Spicy – Brin Xu ’22
Fancy & Spicy started from a popular Chinese Sichuan food blog, providing authentic Chinese food recipes, cookbooks, cooking events, and cooking consultation.

The David and Robyn Quattrone Venture Track

Audience Choice ($1,000): Technica – Hugo Burbelo ’22, Utsa Santhosh ’22
Technica sells an innovative online event platform that is custom-built for hackathons to other technology events and corporate partners in order to improve the experience and engagement of their attendees in a virtual format.

2nd Place ($10,000): Technica – Hugo Burbelo ’22, Utsa Santhosh ’22
Technica sells an innovative online event platform that is custom-built for hackathons to other technology events and corporate partners in order to improve the experience and engagement of their attendees in a virtual format.

Grand Prize ($30,000): Blimp Logistics – Camilo Melnyk ’21, Spencer Yaculak ’23
Blimp Logistics is developing a drone delivery system that will provide last-mile delivery services to businesses shipping packages under 30 lbs. in both suburban and rural areas.

Fearless Ideas Track

2nd Place: Cooli – Reshad Berki ’22
Cooli is an app to help college students diversify their personal and future professional networks, aiming to end racial segregation and biases that affect hiring decisions.

Grand Prize ($5,000): North Star Creations – Mathew Parsons, MBA ’22, Daniel Yu, MBA ’22
North Star Creations aims to help children with emotional and social development by providing inclusive dolls and other educational materials.

2021 Finals Judges

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

Chris Ballenger
Founder & CEO, APEX Strategies

Tom Parsons '93, MBA '10
President, Parsons Ventures, Inc

Athena Abbott, MBA '91
Director, Pharma Data Product Strategy, CVS Health

Shelly Kapoor Collins
Founding Partner, The Shatter Fund

Manpreet Singh '03
Chief Investment Officer, Singh Capital Partners

Danny Wright
Chief Operating Officer, 1863 Ventures

2020 Winners

Grand Prize ($15,000): HydrazeCharles Grody '20, Jack Sturtevant '20, Tuvia Rappaport '20
Hydraze Inc. is a sustainability-oriented venture that develops disruptive automatic toilet flushing technology with the ability to reduce average toilet water consumption by 45% which would save UMD at least half a million dollars annually.

Second Place ($7,500): AlgenAir LLC Dan Fucich, PhD '20, Kelsey Abernathy
Indoor carbon dioxide accumulation is detrimental to our health and productivity. The aerium is the world's first natural air purifier that uses algae to reduce carbon dioxide and produce oxygen as effectively as 25 house plants.

Third Place ($3,500): Door Robotics Joshua Ermias '20
Door Robotics is at the intersection of drones, virtual reality, and photography. We are launching a drone with an integrated virtual reality camera system.

PPE Award ($1,000): BraceLint, LLCDaniel Raithel '20
BraceLint is a completely flat, single-use, and patent-pending version of the lint roller that allows anyone to freshen their clothing once they are out of the house.

PPE Award ($1,000): SweetsbyCaroline – Caroline Ta '21
SweetsbyCaroline is a catering business that specializes in custom french macarons, cakes and cupcakes for your parties and events. We value and aim to bring your ideas into unique and delicious products while using the best quality ingredients.

2020 Finals Judges

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

Matt Fishlinger '07
Founder & COO, Gramercy Risk Holdings, LLC

Aurelia Flores
Managing Member, Athena Digital Media Group

Tom Parsons '93, MBA '10
President, Parsons Ventures, Inc

Angela Singleton
Director, TEDCO Builder Fund

Becky Smith
EVP, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, SECU

Prize Breakdown

David & Robyn Quattrone Grand Prize: $15,000

Parsons Ventures, Inc Second Place Prize: $7,500

Third Place Prize: $3,500

2020 PPE Award (Pandemic Perseverance in Entrepreneurship): $1,000

Audience Choice: $500 at Semifinal Competition

SECU Finalist Award: $500

Other sponsored Prizes: various amounts

2019 Winners

Grand Prize ($15,000): Aurora Tights - Jasmine Snead '18, MBA/MPP '21, Imani Rickerby ’17, Sydney Parker ’18
Performance sports apparel for women of all skin tones and sizes.

2nd Place ($7,500): Solr Tech - Alex Onufrak ‘21
Solar-powered charging stations that can retrofit to any patio umbrella.

3rd Place ($3,500) & Audience Choice ($1,000): Synapto - Chris Look ’20, Megha Guggari ’20
A device using AI and portable EEG to streamline Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

2019 Finals Judges

David Quattrone, MBA ’05
Co-founder & CTO, Cvent

Bill Boyle ’81
Founder, FiberGate Inc.

Cassie Costin
Community Market Leader, SECU

Gloria Jacobovitz
Technology Manager, Applied Physics Laboratory

2018 Winners

Grand Prize ($15,000) : Symbiont Health (Emergency Detection Systems, LLC)- Erich Meissner ’18, Maria Chen ’19, Kyle Liu ’20
An innovative technology to detect falls for seniors and nursing home patients. 

Second Prize ($7,500): BEEQBOX - Brianna Queen ’19
A vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics company featuring feminist branding.

Third Prize ($3,500): Dark Sonar Technologies - George Lee ’18
A cybersecurity company that prevents synthetic identity fraud on websites and mobile apps. 

Audience Choice ($1,000): Flee - Didac Hormiga ’19
A mobile app that helps students discover events and entertainment around campus.

2018 Finalist Judges

Robert Hisaoka ’79
Investor and Philanthropist

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

Rob McGovern ’83
Founder & CEO, PreciseTarget

Michele Moore
Vice President of Retail Banking, SECU

Dick Patterson
President & CEO, RR Automotive

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

2017 Winners

Grand Prize ($15,000) and Audience Choice ($1,500): Curu- David Potter ‘18, Abb Kapoor ‘18
A website and mobile application that assesses spending habits and offers ways to optimize the user’s credit score.

Second Place ($7,500): CourseHunter - Aaron Bloch ‘17, Benjamin Khakshoor ‘18
A platform that interfaces with school registration systems to help students get into classes they need.  

Third Place ($3,500): Gravity LLC - Richard Kong ‘20
An online publishing platform for Chinese and Korean fantasy stories translated into English.

2017 Finalist Judges

John Czupak ‘89
President and CEO, ThreatQuotient, Inc.

Christopher Groshko, MBA ‘05
Vice President of Retail Banking, SECU

Warren Harris
CEO and Managing Director, Tata Technologies

Julie Lenzer
Associate Vice President, Economic Development & Co-Director, UM Ventures, University of Maryland

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

Liz Sara ‘80
Founder & CEO, Best Marketing LLC

2016 Winners

Grand Prize ($15,000) and Kimberly Marie Scholastic Achievement Award ($1,000): WeCook - Ryan Pillai ‘18
A tech company that brings personal chefs into people’s homes, at a low price to stock their refrigerators.

Second Place ($5,000) : ICOW – Jonathan Kau ‘16  
A web app to simplify the higher-ed application process for international students.

Judge’s Choice ($2,000): Embitterment – Russell Garing, MBA ‘16
A craft cocktail bitters company.

Judge’s Choice ($2,000): VentureStorm – Tyler Denk ’16, Taylor Johnson ’16, Tommy Johnson ‘16
A web platform connecting entrepreneurs and student developers.

Judge’s Choice ($2,000) and Audience Choice ($500): uBoard – Natalie Urban ‘18
uBoard transforms student dorm beds with customized headboards that are stylish and comfortable.

2016 Finalist Judges

David Burd
General Manager, Uber

Paul Capriolo
CEO, Social Growth Technologies Inc.

Malcolm Gillian
Managing partner, Syndicate Group NYC

Jennifer Meyer
CEO, Betamore

Carmen Mirabile
Assistant Vice President of Marketing, SECU

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

Greg Vetter
CEO, Tessemae's All Natural

David and Robyn Quattrone
David and Robyn Quattrone

About our Partners

David and Robyn Quattrone have been supporting the Pitch Dingman Competition since 2015. In 2020, the Quattrones significantly increased their support by providing funds that allowed the Center to go from offering $30,000 in total award funding to offering $65,000 in awards.

As a Pitch Dingman judge, David enjoys engaging with students on their innovative business ideas. It’s something that the family looks forward to every year.

“Every time David comes home from the competition, he tells us all about what the different submissions were,” Robyn says. “Even our kids are interested in it, which is not always the case when you talk to them about work.”

“The program inspires people to think creatively, launching something new or transforming an organization from the inside. That’s what makes the work compelling,” says David. “Hearing how people can get those lessons and experiences to use on their own adventures or create change within their spaces is rewarding and makes me excited for the future.”

Additional funding is provided by members of the Dingman Center Board of Advisors.

The Dingman Center would also like to thank the following sponsors:

  • Chris and Vidya Ballenger '89 
  • Parsons Ventures, Inc. 
  • Amazon Web Services
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