University of Maryland’s Cupid’s Cup: A Celebration of Entrepreneurship

April 6, 2011

11:45 am

Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, began his foray into entrepreneurship as a University of Maryland undergrad and walk-on football player.  While at school, he and his future wife developed a business playing cupid for budding student romances by selling and delivering flowers on the College Park campus.  Once a year in honor of that endeavor, the visionary entrepreneur partners with his alma mater to sponsor one of the region’s premiere celebrations of entrepreneurship…the Cupid’s Cup.

This year’s 6th annual Cupid’s Cup, held on April 1 at the University of Maryland’s College Park Campus, was a day long festival celebrating the creativity of the entrepreneur.

The day kicked off with presentations from several of the university’s technology commercialization efforts that ranged from the ever-popular field of nano cilia and whisker flow sensors, to rapidly deployed,  self-organizing, hyper-speed, mobile, secure TCP/IP networks.

Vendor Fair

The early afternoon featured student-based  and local companies associated with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s Capital Access Network (CAN), a network of angel investors.

Local CAN companies that have presented their plans to the network and are under consideration for investment displaying at the vendor fair included:

  • Klaggle – Innovative user ratings for online electronic retailers.
  • Nexercise – Exercise with your mobile phone and earn healthy rewards.
  • Loyal Patients – Patient and medical employee loyalty rewards system for employee and client growth and rewards.

Student- and former student-founded companies included:

  • Veggie Cool – Creating better lives for farmers and consumers in India through smart logistics
  • Crooked Monkey – University startup-gone-mainstream creator of awesome and funny T-shirts
  • Northstar Games – Bringing families together through innovative and fun board games
  • Goozex – Video game and movie trading community
  • Blind Pig – Better cocktails

The Big Event

Wallace Loh, Sam Medile, Eric & Adam VanWagner, Keven Plank, Steve Case

Then the main event — and the reason the 550 seat Hoff Theatre was standing room only — kicked off. First Steve Case, Founder of AOL and Chairman of Revolution, LLC and Startup America, spoke to a rapt audience.  Case stressed that entrepreneurship takes perseverance, quipping that AOL was an overnight success 10 years in the making. Mr. Case emphasized that entrepreneurial startups, or, as he called them, speedups, were the future of America.

Case was followed by speeches from Wallace Loh, University of Maryland President; Ed Snider, University of Maryland class of ’55 and Chairman of Comcast – Spectrum, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76’rs, as well as Comcast Sportsnet; and Kevin Plank.

Finally it was time to see who was going to take home the Kevin Plank- sponsored Cupid’s Cup prize money.  The two finalists for the $15,000 Cupid’s Cup prize took the stage to pitch their businesses and earn the prize.   The Van Wagner twins of MyFridgeRental, a company that rents combination refrigerator, freezer, and microwave unit for college students, finished in first place, doing their very best impersonation of the Winklevoss twins from the movie “The Social Network.” High Life Entertainment, an event planning/management and event space consulting firm, took the $7,500 second prize.

MyFridgeRental also took home a $3,500 prize sponsored by former Terp football player, present Dingman Board Member, and angel investor Sam Medile.

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 for Best Student/Alumni Company — College Media Group, publisher
  • $2,000 for Best Nonstudent Company – Nexercise, maker of a fitness-based iPhone app
  • $500 for Best Up-and-Coming Student Company — GreekUs, a social networking tool for fraternities and sororities (no website yet)
  • $500 for Best Technology Transfer Project — CloudSolar, a new solar heating technology

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Glen Hellman (@glehel), is an angel investor, serial entrepreneur, and works for venture capitalists as a turn-around specialist. He is the Chief Entrepreneureator at Driven Forward LLC, frequently muses on his blog, Forward Thinking, and works with entrepreneurs to help them figure out what to do and get them to do it.

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