Md. Gov. Martin O’Malley keynotes, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and BB&T Sponsor University of Maryland’s Entrepreneurship Invitational
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College Park, Md. – April 2, 2012 – Reed Street Productions, organizer of zombie-themed adventure races, took home $17,500 as the top winner at the seventh annualCupid’s Cup business competition, March 30, at the University of Maryland. The competition was the highlight of the UMD Entrepreneurship Invitational, a showcase of the university’s impressive impact on venture creation and economic development in the region, hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Cupid’s Cup is sponsored by alumnus Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, the Baltimore-based leader in performance apparel, footwear and accessories.
The daylong event featured keynotes from Plank and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. It began with the launch of Startup Maryland, a statewide initiative of the White House’s Startup America Partnership to stimulate emerging companies. Following the launch, the BB&T Business Invitational highlighted thriving University of Maryland and Washington-Baltimore region startups, entrepreneurship groups and economic development organizations in a lively tradeshow format. The day culminated with the Cupid’s Cup competition.
Gov. O’Malley addressed the more than 600-person audience gathered at the university’s Stamp Student Union, stressing the state’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and the university’s integral role in fueling innovation and new business creation.
“We have a responsibility to create jobs and expand opportunity for the future,” O’Malley said. “Being entrepreneurs is a critically important part of that. Being Americans, being willing to invest in a country you believe in, is another important part of that. I thank all of you so much for leading the way here at the University of Maryland.”
In his keynote, Plank echoed O’Malley’s call for entrepreneurship to strengthen the economy.
“There is an answer, and it rests in yourself it rests in the conviction – more importantly, the courage – to take a chance and start that business,” Plank said. “Entrepreneurship can fix the problem that isn’t just a Maryland or a U.S. problem, but it’s happening all over the world.”
Plank spoke before announcing the Cupid’s Cup winners. He judged the five finalists’ pitches with a panel of veteran entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Rob McGovern, chairman and CEO of Jobfox and founder of CareerBuilder.com. Plank presented the prizes to the winning companies:
- $15,000, 1st place – Reed Street Productions, operators of Run for Your Lives, a zombie themed adventure race attracting thousands of participants
- $7,500, 2nd place – Food Safety Administration, provider of online courses for food service professionals required to earn food and alcohol safety certifications
- $2,500, People’s Choice Award, decided by audience vote – Reed Street Productions (sponsored by Sam Medile ’80, a successful entrepreneur and former Terp student athlete)
- 10G Systems, supplier of web-based transportation software to small to mid-size shippers
- Route One Apparel, an e-commerce platform for creative apparel designed by students
- Visisonics, a UMD spinout that enables realistic 3D audio for music, movies and gaming in standard headphones
Dan Waetjen, BB&T group president for the Greater Washington region, also presented prizes from BB&T for participants of the BB&T Business Invitational:
- $2,000 best student/alumni company – My Fridge Rental (winners of the 2011 Cupid’s Cup)
- $2,000 best regional company – Veenome
Cupid’s Cup – named for Plank’s college Valentine rose venture -- has grown every year and highlights the Dingman Center’s more than 25-year history of providing University of Maryland students with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and access funding.
“Working with our partners across campus, we are collectively focused on nurturing university entrepreneurship,” said Elana Fine, associate director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. “We are committed to working with entrepreneurs from the beginning stages to help their ventures become drivers of the economy.”
About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center has been a hub of campus and regional entrepreneurial activity for 25 years. Among the Dingman Center’s resources are its Dingman Center Angels program, a pipeline that connects startups from regional tech councils, incubators and state-funded institutions with a network of more than 40 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital. The center also helps lead the University of Maryland’s Technology Transfer programs and provides MBA and undergraduate students at the Smith School with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, obtain feedback from experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence and access funding.
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, executive MS, 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.