Two years ago the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship piloted a new program — Terp Startup Fellows, made possible by a generous donation from Bill Boyle ’81, chairman of the center’s board of advisors. Building on the success of the Dingman Center’s Terp Startup Accelerator eight-week summer program, the Terp Startup Fellows program is an effort to further accelerate the most promising student startups. These student founders have demonstrated a strong commitment to their ventures and the ability to innovate as they push towards commercialization. After positive results from the two-year pilot, the Dingman Center has named five Terp Startup Fellows for the 2021-22 academic year, an increase from 3 last year.
The founders of Athenus Financial Group, Fancy & Spicy, Vitalize, Door Robotics, and Aurora will receive up to $20,000 in non-dilutive funding, coaching, and co-working space to work on their businesses for 10 hours a week with the Dingman Center. These five ventures have all been heavily involved with the Dingman Center’s programs in past years. All of the newly elected fellows have participated in Terp Startup Accelerator and several have won top honors at the Pitch Dingman Competition.
In the next year, the Dingman Center management team including Holly DeArmond, MBA ’17, Sara Herald, MBA ’11 and Lottie Byram, MPH, will work directly with the selected fellows and their ventures.
“The pilot of Terp Startup Fellows has shown that individualized support and significant funding make a meaningful difference for our most advanced founders,” said Herald, director of venture development at the Dingman Center. We are thrilled to have such a strong cohort this year and look forward to seeing the advances they make with their ventures and as entrepreneurs.”
Student ventures selected to participate in the 2021-22 Terp Startup Fellows:
Athenus Financial Group, founded by Cameron Williams ’21 and Damian Shaw ’24, is a fintech application that allows its users to easily trade foreign exchange. It is powered by Machine Learning AI, which allows users to analyze price data in seconds and then place successful trades without having to learn the market themselves. Williams participated in New Venture Practicum during the 2021 spring semester and the team also competed in Pitch Dingman Competition 2021 semifinals as well as Terp Startup Accelerator in 2021. Athenus Financial Group was chosen as the recipient for the 2021 Jason ’96 & Jamie Cohen Entrepreneurship Fund Award ($1,000). The team also recently raised over $11,000 through a crowdfunding campaign.
Aurora was founded in 2017 by Sydney Parker ’18, Imani Rickerby ’17, and Jasmine Snead ’18, MBA/MPP 2021. Aurora designs inclusive athletic apparel and hosiery for dancers and ice skaters of all skin tones and sizes. The Aurora team won the $15,000 grand prize at the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition. They also participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2018. More recently, the Aurora team has raised $13,000 for black and brown dancers and ice skaters through the Perform In Color virtual showcase, moved their items to a fulfillment center for faster shipping times, and was featured in Pop Sugar and Dance magazine.
Door Robotics, co-founded by Joshua Ermias and Colgate University 2019 graduate Patrick Crowe, is a 360-camera indoor capable drone company. The company created a drone with Roomba-like functionality and a follow-me feature that optimizes the capture of quality video and photo shots with a 360 view. Door Robotics participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2020 and started as a fellow last year. The team also placed as finalists in the 2020 Pitch Dingman Competition and Ermias was selected to receive the Rudy Award for Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021.
Fancy & Spicy, founded by Brin Xu, PhD ’22, is a digital culinary platform, emphasizing authentic Chinese food through a food blog, website, and published cookbook. Xu plans to offer different kinds of online cooking classes with a variety of recipes to make healthy cooking accessible to everyone. Fancy & Spicy won the $15,000 grand prize in the Pitch Dingman Competition 2021 Main Street Track and also participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2021.
Vitalize, founded by Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23 and Veeraj Shah ’21, is a digital wellness platform specifically for clinicians. Vitalize aims to improve the well-being and professional satisfaction of clinicians by providing them with engaging evidence-based wellness modules specific to working in healthcare, and help hospitals deliver more accessible staff well-being programs. Vitalize participated in Terp Startup Accelerator in 2020 and was a Pitch Dingman Competition quarterfinalist in 2021. Shah was also named as the 2021 Gates Cambridge Scholar and both founders were featured in DC Inno 25 Under 25 in 2020. Vitalize is currently conducting a hospital pilot at Midland Memorial Hospital for 150 nurses and has other larger pilot programs in the works.
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