College Park, Md. – April 4, 2011 – Twin brothers and university seniors Eric and Adam VanWagner, founders of MyFridgeRental.com, took home $15,000 as the top winners at the sixth annual Cupid’s Cup business competition, April 1. The competition was the highlight of the Entrepreneurship Invitational, a daylong showcase of the University of Maryland’s impact on entrepreneurship and economic development in the region, hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Cupid’s Cup is sponsored by alumnus Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel maker Under Armour.
The event has become a yearly campus-wide celebration of entrepreneurship. Nearly 600 people attended this year, which kicked off with the BB&T Business Invitational at the university’s Stamp Student Union. That portion of the day highlighted student and alumni companies, regional startups, and university and regional resources for entrepreneurs, including economic development organizations, technology councils, and incubators. Attendees networked with local entrepreneurs and investors, students, and business leaders from the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.
Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, investor, philanthropist, and chair of the Obama Administration’s entrepreneurship initiative, the Startup America Partnership, delivered the event’s opening keynote and stressed the importance of entrepreneurship in creating jobs and keeping the U.S. competitive. ’s not just about starting a business – it really is about ensuring that our nation has a great future as the innovator,” Case said.
Plank, a 1996 Smith School graduate, donated the prize money that went to the winning University of Maryland student and alumni startups.
“The ultimate goal of the University of Maryland is to make this the foremost center for driving the No. 1 ingredient that has made our country what it is today – and most importantly the thing that will push us forward: Entrepreneurship,” Plank said in his keynote address.
The name for Cupid’s Cup comes from a Valentine’s Day rose sale business called Cupid’s Valentine, one of Plank’s early entrepreneurial ventures. This small business earned him more than $20,000 during his four years at the university and helped provide the genesis for Under Armour.
In additional to hearing from Plank and Case, attendees also heard from Ed Snider ’55, chair of Comcast-Spectacor and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team and 76ers NBA basketball team.
Plank presented the prizes to the winning companies:
- $15,000, 1st place – MyFridgeRental.com
- $7,500, 2nd place – High Life Entertainment, an event planning company that consults with struggling bars and restaurants
- $3,500, attendee-voted People’s Choice Award – MyFridgeRental.com (sponsored by Sam Medile ’80, a successful entrepreneur and former Terp student athlete)
- 1 Cut Above barbershop
- Redux, a consultancy to reduce operating expenses
Dan Waetjen, BB&T group president for the Greater Washington region, also presented prizes from BB&T for participants of the BB&T Business Invitational:
- $2,000 best student/alumni company -- College Media Group, publisher
- $2,000 best nonstudent company – Nexercise, maker of a fitness-based iPhone app
- $500 best up-and-coming student company -- GreekUs, a social networking tool for fraternities and sororities
- $500 best technology transfer project -- CloudSolar, a new solar heating technology
Cupid’s Cup has grown every year and highlights the Dingman Center’s 25-year history of providing University of Maryland students with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and access funding.
“We are focused on growing more entrepreneurship out of the university to fuel this region,” said Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. “We are committed to working with these companies from their very early stages to help them become the drivers for future U.S. economic growth.”
The Smith School is ranked among the best in the nation for its entrepreneurship offerings, according to rankings by U.S. News & World Report.
About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center has been a hub of campus and regional entrepreneurial activity for 25 years. Among the Dingman Center’s resources are its Capital Access Network (CAN), a pipeline that connects startups from regional tech councils, incubators and state-funded institutions with a network of more than 40 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital. The center also helps lead the University of Maryland’s Technology Transfer programs and provides MBA and undergraduate students at the Smith School with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, obtain feedback from experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence and access funding.
About the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, executive MS, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.