Let’s start at the very beginning
On April 22, 2015, a crowd of nearly 1,000 descended on the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center for the 10th annual Cupid’s Cup, chaired by Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank ’96 and hosted by Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.
It’s a very good place to start(up)
Attendees had the chance to talk to student and UMD alumni entrepreneurs at the Startup Showcase and test products before the main event.
Getting the party started
Emcee Dhani Jones, former NFL player turned entrepreneur and author, kicked off the event by getting the crowd fired up for the competition. He carried the energy throughout the event.
Dream more, dream bigger and do more
Next, Plank took the stage to talk about the importance of entrepreneurship in the U.S., his start as an entrepreneur and the past 10 years of Cupid’s Cup. He reminisced about how the competition has grown – prize money has more than quadrupled since that first year! – and how the competition was named the student business he ran – Cupid’s Valentinte – that earned him his initial seed money for Under Armour. He was talking to all the entrepreneurs in the audience when he said the goal of Cupid’s Cup is to “inspire you to think more, dream more, dream bigger and do more.”
Getting down to business
Before the finalists pitched, Plank sat down to discuss entrepreneurship with the judges: Karen Katz (CEO of Neiman Marcus), Daymond John (founder and CEO or FUBU and “Shark Tank” star investor), Mike Lee (co-founder and CEO of MyFitnessPal), and Dhani Jones (former NFL player and founder of philanthropic venture Bow Tie Cause). They talked about their own successes and what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur: Passion, hard work, the right team, a good corporate culture, a focus on the customer and no excuses.
First up: GudNeSs Bar
After the panel, the finalists each had four minutes to pitch their businesses, then answer questions from the judges. Up first was Rajvi Mehta of Duke Univerity School of Medicine with her GudNeSs Bars, an iron-rich nutrition bar combating anemia in India.
Second: Gym Supreme
Next was Obidi Orakwusi (University of Maryland), founder of home gym equipment maker Gym Supreme with its product, Mega Bar.
Third to pitch: Scholly
Christopher Gray of Scholly, a Drexel University student, pitched third. He compelled judges with his personal story of winning $1.3 million in scholarships and parlayed how he built an app that makes it easy for students to find money for college.
Up fourth: SnappyScreen
Kristen McClellan (Cornell University) wheeled out her SnappyScreen touchless sunscreen application system for quick demonstration during her pitch.
Louis Cirillo (Virigina Tech) unveiled his walk-in 3D body scanner, called VirtualU, that informs users all of their biometric data in just a few seconds.
The final pitch: ZOOS Greek Iced Teas
Rounding out the pitches was Kristina Tsipouras (Stetson University) with her ZOOS Greek Iced Teas, bottled tea brewed from an herb grown in the Greek mountains.
Deliberation and dancing
Audience members casted votes for their favorite entrepreneur (and favorite song for the DJ to play) by text messages while the judges deliberated.
Cheers to Cupid’s Cup
Back on stage, UMD President Wallace Loh led the audience in a shout-out to Cupid’s Cup and reaffirmed the university’s strong commitment to entrepreneurship.
During the deliberation and audience voting, the finalists eagerly awaited the results backstage.
The audience-selected “five coolest” student businesses from the Startup Showcase were each awarded $2,000 from BB&T.
The Maryland Award
Gym Supreme won the $5,000 “Maryland Award” from NewDay USA for being the top UMD finalist. He also took home the $5,000 Audience Choice Award.
The Innovation Prize
Scholly won the $5,000 “Innovation Prize” from SalesForce.
And the winner is…
Scholly went on to win the $75,000 Cupid’s Cup grand prize. GudNeSs Bar took home the $20,000 second prize and SnappyScreen won the $5,000 third prize.
Check out the video highlights from TerpVision.
- Carrie Handwerker, Office of Marketing Communications