News at Smith

Students, Investors and Faculty Receive Honors at the 3rd Annual Rudy Awards

May 05, 2017
Entrepreneurial Spirit


College Park, Md. -- May 5, 2017-- Entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, students and faculty joined the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on Thursday, May 4 to celebrate the third annual Rudy Awards. The ceremony honors and recognizes the school’s vibrant community of entrepreneurs. Awards were given to student and alumni entrepreneurs, veteran entrepreneurs-in-residence, angel investors, faculty and researchers.

“The Rudy Awards brings together people who have been involved with the Dingman Center for 30 days or 30 years,” said Elana Fine, executive director of the Dingman Center. “This annual convening reminds us all that entrepreneurship is a team sport and a startup’s success depends on the connections and network an entrepreneur makes to take an idea to market. Our Center plays a key role in making these key connections and this event celebrates the collective contributions of our community.”

Special guests included Michael D. Dingman, benefactor and namesake of the Dingman Center, his wife, Betsy, and sons, David and Patrick. Named after former dean and Dingman Center founding director, Rudolph “Rudy” Lamone, the Rudy Awards were created to acknowledge people involved who have excelled in keeping the entrepreneurial spirit thriving.

Lamone had this to say about Dingman’s gift and their shared vision: “When I envision the entrepreneur, I see Mike Dingman. He demonstrates over and over the real challenges for the entrepreneur in creating and building successful ventures … challenges that include finding ways to turn passion into practice, to transform dreams into realities for everyone in the organization.”

Before the announcement of the Rudy Awards, Dingman Center Board of Advisors member Jason Cohen `96 presented the Jason & Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award to student startup, FroDoh, the maker of frozen doughnut holes. FroDoh’s co-founders, Simon Amato ’17, Holly Wilson ’17, Alexandra Cimino ’17 and Diego Lyon ’18, were selected for their commitment to building and launching the food startup while completing their senior year of school. Cohen created this award to recognize exemplary student entrepreneurs and provide $1,000 to continue building the business.

The nominees and winners of the 2017 Rudy Awards:

Research Honors

Research Honors awards are given to recognize doctoral students who are making excellent strides in entrepreneurial research at the Smith School.

  • Heejung Byun -- Winner

Faculty Award

Nominees for the Faculty Award teach excellence in entrepreneurship and innovation in the classroom while contributing to the value of the Dingman Center and its programs. They integrate Dingman Center resources and programs into the classroom and encourage participation in the Center’s activities to students, faculty and staff.

  • Larisa Cioaca, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
  • Joe Bailey, Smith School of Business
  • Waverly Ding, Smith School of Business
  • David Kirsch, Smith School of Business -- Winner

Mentor of the Year

Nominees for Mentor of the Year have gone above and beyond to support student entrepreneurs. They also demonstrate consistent commitment to the Dingman Center and an implicit understanding of its mission.

  • Maurice Boissiere
  • Henrik de Gyor
  • Bob London -- Winner
  • Zeki Mokhtarzada
  • Corinne Pouliquen

Angel Investor of the Year

The Angel Investor of the Year nominees have shown high levels of engagement in Dingman Center Angels Investor meetings, have demonstrated a willingness to invest in and develop portfolio companies and have acted as a resource for introducing new deals to the angels network.

  • Bill Boyle
  • Bob Koran
  • Amit Mehra -- Winner
  • Mark Segal

Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year

Nominees for Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year have each stayed engaged with the Dingman Center, represented the University of Maryland in a positive way and set an example for current students.

  • Dan Cowens, founder of Snag-a-Slip
  • John Czupak, President & CEO at ThreatQuotient, Inc.
  • David Engle, Founder of UMD’s Startup Village and Serial Entrepreneur
  • Micha Weinblatt, CEO and Co-Founder at Betterific, Founder Crooked Monkey -- Winner

Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Nominees for Social Entrepreneur of the Year are students or alumni who demonstrate passion for using business to address social issues, have started their own social enterprise and take advantage of the resources available at the Smith School.

  • Femi Adegbite, Founder of Re-Empower
  • Alex Beall, Drew Hamroff and Ryan Kosmides, Co-founders of Turbind
  • Anastasiia Polyakov, founder of Annie's Children -- Winner

Student Entrepreneur of the Year

Student Entrepreneur of the Year nominees embody entrepreneurial spirit, take advantage of the resources available at the Dingman Center and have taken serious strides to improve their businesses.

  • Aaron Bloch and Benjamin Khakshoor, Co-founders of CourseHunter -- Winners
  • Ray Joyce and Andrew Wills, Partners at 301 Ventures
  • Richard Kong, Founder of Gravity Tales
  • Abb Kapoor and David Potter, Co-founders of Curu
  • Holly Wilson and Simon Amato, Co-founders of FroDoh

About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center is one of the nation’s pre-eminent institutions where the research, education and practice of entrepreneurship are pursued vigorously. The center, located at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, develops and executes curricular and noncurricular programs to support the startup community.


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 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.

Robert H. Smith School of Business
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