College Park, Md. – May 2, 2019 – Entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, students and faculty joined the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on Thursday, May 2 to celebrate the fifth annual Rudy Awards. Named after former dean and Dingman Center founding director, Rudolph “Rudy” Lamone, the ceremony honors and recognizes the school’s vibrant community of entrepreneurs. Awards were given to student and alumni entrepreneurs, venture mentors, angel investors and faculty.
“The Dingman Center’s secret sauce, as they say in startup land, is our community,” said Holly DeArmond, MBA ’17, Dingman Center managing director, in her opening remarks. “No matter who is leading the Dingman Center or what team members come and go, we can deliver our value proposition because of our intelligent, supportive and dynamic community.”
Before the announcement of the Rudy Awards, Dingman Center advisory board member Jason Cohen ’96 and Holly DeArmond presented the Jason & Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award of $1,000 to Alexei Onufrak ’20, founder of Solr Tech, a solar-powered mobile charging station that can be retro-fitted to any patio umbrella. Onufrak recently placed second in the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition and plans to use the funds to manufacture more prototypes for a pilot launch in LaPlaya Hotels.
The nominees and winners of the 2019 Rudy Awards:
Partner of the Year Award
This is not an award the Dingman Center presents every year, but it is given to partner organizations who demonstrate a consistently excellent level of service and support for the Dingman Center.
- Berenato & White, LLC
Nominees for the Faculty Award teach excellence in entrepreneurship and innovation in the classroom while contributing to the value of the Dingman Center and its programs. They integrate Dingman Center resources and programs into the classroom and encourage participation in the Center’s activities to students, faculty and staff.
- Larisa Cioaca, MBA ’07, Lecturer and Advisor, Agricultural Business Management, Leadership and Communication - Winner
- David Kressler, Smith School Senior Lecturer
- Oliver Schlake, Smith School Clinical Full Professor
Mentor of the Year
Nominees for Mentor of the Year have gone above and beyond to support student entrepreneurs. They also demonstrate a consistent commitment to the Dingman Center and an implicit understanding of its mission.
- Drew Bewick ’88, Managing Director, Tree House Ventures - Winner
- Philip Eliot, Managing Director, Reflection Ventures
- LaKisha Greenwade, MBA ’11, Founder of GlamTech
Angel Investor of the Year
The Angel Investor of the Year nominees have shown high levels of engagement in Dingman Center Angels Investor meetings, have demonstrated a willingness to invest in and develop portfolio companies and have acted as a resource for introducing new deals to the angels network.
- Jitin Miki Ahuja ’97, MS ’02, MBA ’02
- Deborah Hemingway, PhD ’18 - Winner
- Ajay Srivastava, MBA ’93
Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year
Nominees for Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year have each stayed engaged with the Dingman Center, represented the University of Maryland in a positive way and set an example for current students.
- James Fayal ’11, founder of Zest Tea
- Zeki Mokhtarzada ’00, co-founder of Truebill - Winner
- Stephen Steinberg ’10, founder of Raw Athletics
Social Entrepreneur of the Year
Nominees for Social Entrepreneur of the Year are students or alumni who demonstrate a passion for using business to address social issues, have started their own social enterprise and take advantage of the resources available at the Smith School.
- Myisha Gatson, MBA ’19, founder of Pearl Long Term Care Solutions
- Rasheeq Rayhan, MBA ’20, Alex Woo, MS ’20,
- Justin Fenn ’21, co-founders of OnCall
- Dhruv Patel ’20, Christopher Look ’20, Megha Guggari ’20, Anoop Patel ’20 and David Boegner ’20, co-founders of Synapto - Winners
Student Entrepreneur of the Year
Student Entrepreneur of the Year nominees embody entrepreneurial spirit, take advantage of the resources available at the Dingman Center and have taken serious strides to improve their businesses.
- Shyon Parsadoust ’19, Founder of Gig
- Jasmine Snead ’17, MPH ’19, MBA ’21, Founder of Aurora Tights - Winner
- Zack Wynegar ’19, Founder of OpenPoll
About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center is one of the nation’s preeminent institutions where the research, education and practice of entrepreneurship are pursued vigorously. The center, located at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, develops and executes curricular and noncurricular programs to support the startup community.