Entrepreneurial Spirit / September 20, 2004

Pitch Dingman Program Opens New Avenue for Local Entrepreneurs

Nearly 20 years after the launch of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, a new strategy launches to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in the Smith community. Pitch Dingman builds on the Dingman business development process of Ideation, Assessment, Implementation, and Iteration by creating a regular forum where aspiring entrepreneurs can pitch their business ideas to a panel of experienced scholars. Each Friday, upon submission of an executive summary, participants are invited to discuss their ideas in a five-minute business pitch and receive immediate feedback for further idea development.

The Pitch Dingman program is designed to provide the Mid-Atlantic community, students, faculty and staff a sounding board for potential business ideas, says Asher Epstein, managing director for the Dingman Center. Often students come up with ideas and they are not certain how to proceed to the next step. The Pitch Dingman program provides a starting point to begin the entrepreneurial process and determine whether the idea is worth pursuing further.

Participants in the program are matched with a Dingman Scholar (a Smith MBA student who works at the center) for four hours of advising in order to help advance the concept to the next phases. Participants can compete for $50-1500 of funding, adds Epstein. The Pitch Dingman program is a key component of our efforts to involve more students in the Dingman Centers activities.

Pitch Dingman is the most recent effort in the centers history of promoting local entrepreneurship. Over the years, the Dingman Center has earned national recognition for providing financial, intellectual and emotional support for young entrepreneurs to grow their ideas in an incubated environment. Jason Volk, a current Smith MBA student and Dingman Scholar, has significant experience with the Dingman process and is a vocal advocate of Dingmans efforts. Volk recently began his own business venture, and credits much of his entrepreneurial success to the Dingman support network.

The Dingman strategy focuses on growing and shaping student ideas, while dedicating critical resources to ensure successful implementation, says Volk. His advice to students thinking about "pitching Dingman is: Be relaxed and open to discussion. Preparation is important, but the feedback and discussion are the true rewards.

David Lax and Russ Andersen are two Smith undergraduate students who recently pitched their idea to Dingman. Its a great resource and sounding board for our ideas, and way to leverage a network to get the funding we need to launch our idea, they said. They appreciated the insight and detailed feedback provided by the scholars, and were encouraged that the scholars provided time over the course of the semester to help them expand and implement their idea.

Pitch Dingman sessions are conducted every Friday, from 11-12pm at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship (3570 Van Munching Hall, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland). Interested participants are encouraged to contact Jason Volk (jvolk@umd.edu) or visit www.smith.umd.edu/dingman for more information.

Beyond Pitch Dingman, the center has many exciting events planned that offer entrepreneurs unique opportunities to develop their ideas, network with other professionals, and raise funding to begin their own businesses.

Dingman Book Review

  • Monthly event for students, faculty and community interested in reading and discussing a book on Entrepreneurship

California Tortilla Lunches

  • Rudys beware! The E-Club is launching a business that partners with local food establishments to have lunch delivered daily for students, faculty and staff. The first official partner is California Tortilla, which will deliver to the Dingman Center every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. Volunteers are invited to launch and grow this business.
  • Contact: Jason Volk, MBA 2005, Dingman Scholar, 301-405-9505
  • Full menu can be found at www.californiatortilla.com

Media Contact

Greg Muraski
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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 flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, 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.

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