Chaired by Robert Hisaoka, Pitch Dingman Competition Features Best of UMD Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business presents the Pitch Dingman Competition Finals on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in the Grand Ballroom at Stamp Student Union.
Each year, the Dingman Center hosts the Pitch Dingman Competition, University of Maryland’s business competition. Over 500 students, faculty, alumni, and VIPs will gather to watch top student entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges to compete for a total of $30,000 in seed funding. This year’s competition is chaired by UMD Distinguished Alumnus Robert G. Hisaoka ’79, whose generous donation created more opportunities for student entrepreneurs to receive funding, guidance and mentorship, and also allowed the final round to expand to a larger venue.
Pitch Dingman applications open at the beginning of the academic year, with a short quarterfinals phase in late September. A vetting process from alumni entrepreneur judges leads to a selection of 10 semifinalists. At the Pitch Dingman Semifinals on Nov. 16, 2017, the founders of the 10 semi-finalist teams were announced as the inaugural cohort of Hisaoka Entrepreneurs. As part of the program, they participated in coaching and workshops to further accelerate their ventures.
The final round on March 6 will give attendees an opportunity to meet semifinalists at a Founders Showcase from 5-6 p.m., before the five finalists take the stage starting at 6 p.m.
These five startups and their founders reflect a diverse range of backgrounds and industries:
BEEQBOX, founded by Brianna Queen ’19, is a vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics company featuring provocative, feminist branding that has achieved viral success on social media.
George Lee ’18 is the founder of Dark Sonar Technologies, LLC, a cybersecurity company that prevents synthetic identity fraud on websites and mobile apps for small and medium-sized businesses.
Emprology, launched by Sydney Parker ’18, is an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate minority female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize their content.
Didac Hormiga ’19 tackled a ubiquitous student problem with Flee, a mobile app that helps students discover events and entertainment around campus.
The final team is former Do Good Challenge finalist Symbiont Health, whose founders Erich Meissner ’18, Maria Chen ’19 and Kyle Liu ’20 have developed wearable and non-wearable automated fall detection devices for seniors.
Dingman Center Executive Director Elana Fine offered her comments on the competition:
“We are often asked whether we are looking for the winning business or the winning entrepreneur,” said Fine. “The answer is both, so the journey to the finals is just as important as the final pitch. The winning team has to show they can execute on their idea, iterate on their business model and deliver a compelling pitch.”
Along with Robert Hisaoka, David and Robyn Quattrone, SECU and Venable generously donated the sum of $30,000 in funding, of which $15,000 is allotted to First Place, with additional monetary prizes available for Second Place, Third Place and Audience Choice.
To determine which of the finalists will receive funding, a panel of judges assesses each startup’s current level of success, plan for using the funds and their overall growth potential. The judges panel is filled with entrepreneurs and innovators who fully understand the needs and challenges that seed stage startups face.
This year’s panel features the following judges:
- Robert Hisaoka ’79, Investor and Philanthropist
- David Quattrone MBA '05, Co-Founder & CTO, Cvent
- Dick Patterson, President & CEO, RRR Automotive
- Michelle Moore, Vice President of Retail Banking, SECU
- Rob McGovern ’83, CEO and Founder at PreciseTarget
- Connie Weaver ’75, Co-Founder & CEO at Tracker Group
As UMD’s largest student business competition, Pitch Dingman Competition brings together students, faculty and staff from all across campus in addition to local business leaders in an impressive display of entrepreneurial spirit. The Dingman Center hopes that the event will not only lead to success for the competition finalists, but will also inspire and empower future entrepreneurs and changemakers to make the leap from an idea to a venture.