News at Smith

Six Cupid’s Cup Finalists Compete for $115K, Judges Announced

Mar 28, 2014
Entrepreneurial Spirit



Baltimore, MD (March 28, 2014) — Today Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business announced the panel of judges who will choose the winners of the 2014 Cupid’s Cup Business Competition. This year’s panel is comprised of top-level entrepreneurs who have fearlessly turned their passions into their life’s work and epitomize the mission of the Cupid’s Cup.

The annual competition is chaired by Plank, a graduate of the University of Maryland, and strives to foster interest in student entrepreneurship. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate-level students at accredited U.S. colleges and universities, and recent graduates of these institutions. Winners will receive $115,000 in total cash prizes, coaching from a team of successful entrepreneurs, in-kind services from leading edge companies. Plank will also grant the 2014 grand-prize winner the prestigious Cupid’s Cup, which includes exclusive access to a member of his professional network.

Joining Plank on the judge’s panel:

Russell Simmons, Co-founder, Def Jam Recordings— From creating his seminal Def Jam Recordings in 1984, to his influence in the fashion industry with brands like Phat Farm (1992), Baby Phat (2001), to his current marketing agency Narrative and next generation media company All Def Digital (ADD), Simmons is recognized for his approach to both business and charitable endeavors. With many decades of success behind him, Simmons continues to make waves and build his legacy as a hip-hop pioneer, New York Times best-selling author, and dedicated philanthropist.

Robin Thurston, Founder and CEO, MapMyFitness— A lifelong competitive endurance athlete, Thurston sensed a need for a digital database that allowed bikers and runners to share their routes from around the globe so others could search and utilize them. From that simple concept, MapMyFitness was born. MapMyFitness is the leader in Connected Fitness, empowering active lifestyles through interactive online tools including flagship consumer brands MapMyRun, MapMyRide, and MapMyWalk. As an open platform, the company seamlessly integrates with more than 400 fitness tracking devices, sensors and wearables. As of December 2013, MapMyFitness became a wholly owned subsidiary of Under Armour, Inc.

Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, Co-founders, SoulCycle— Determined to find an alternative to the fitness routines that felt like work, business partners Cutler and Rice developed SoulCycle in 2006. Combining inspirational coaching with high-energy music, the pair designed a workout that benefits the mind and body. SoulCycle now operates 26 locations nationwide and serves approximately 8,000 people daily. The company’s accolades include being voted “Best hit-each-body-part fitness class” by New York Magazine in 2010 and Fast Company recognized them as one of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Fitness for 2013.  

The judges will evaluate six finalists, narrowed down from a pool of 14 semifinalists who presented at Under Armour headquarters on February 20. The finals of the competition will take place on April 4 at the University of Maryland, College Park, and will be emceed by Dhani Jones. A former NFL player with the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones has transitioned into a life dedicated to improving the planet and the lives of others. He works with Al Gore’s climate change initiative and his own philanthropic venture, Bow Tie Cause, which designs bow ties to support various charitable groups. In June 2011, Jones’ book "The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around the World Sports Odyssey," was released, detailing his career in the NFL, his time as the host of a Travel Channel original series, Dhani Tackles the Globe, and his observations on the ability of sports to open a window into a culture and to unlock a common passion in people all around the world.

The finalists are:

  • Compology (University of Maryland) – a sensor and software system that tracks dumpster volume and reroutes waste pickup increasing hauler’s margins by 50 percent
  • Disease Diagnostic Group (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – an inexpensive handheld device that can diagnose malaria in one minute
  • Encore (Georgetown University) – a company that synthesizes social data in actionable, bite-sized alerts for marketers at leading brands
  • Kohana (The Johns Hopkins University) – maker of the Gala pump, a quiet, compact and discreet breast pump that allows women to pump anytime, anywhere
  • Million Dollar Scholar (Morehouse College) – an ed-tech social venture utilizing a web-based platform to educate high school/college students and ex-offenders on how to gain scholarships and avoid student debt
  • Wheel Shields (University of Maryland) – maker of a longboarding accessory that improves safety, blocks mud and enables skaters to perform more advanced tricks

For more information about the competition, please visit

About Kevin Plank

As a special teams captain for the UMD Terrapins football program in 1995, Plank was tired of having to change his sweat-soaked shirts over and over again throughout his two-a-day practices. His frustration led to an inspiration for a better kind of T-shirt—one that could wick sweat and keep athletes cool, dry, and light instead of overheated, drenched, and weighed down. Upon graduating from Maryland in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Plank started to turn his idea into a reality and, as a result, began redefining the way athletes dress. After 17 years of outfitting athletes with the world’s most innovative performance apparel, footwear, and accessories, Plank now oversees a company with over 7,000 employees worldwide that reached $2.3 billion in revenues at the end of 2013. True to his vision in 1995, Plank and Under Armour remain committed to empowering athletes everywhere. 

About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

The Dingman Center has been at the forefront of entrepreneurship education and practice for more than 25 years. The Center’s primary activities include helping students build their ventures, creating experiential learning opportunities and providing regional entrepreneurs with access to capital. Within the region, the Center operates Dingman Center Angels, the area’s most active angel investor network with more than 40 members and 30 companies funded since 2005.


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, online MBA, specialty masters, 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.