Supercharging Student Startups
With $20K Grants to Two Ventures, New Dingman Center Program to Boost Summer Accelerator Progress
Student startups that aim to give fashion aficionados their own virtual runway and to improve students’ memory of what they’ve learned were selected as the inaugural winners of $20,000 in seed funding through a new program at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.
Terp Startup Fellows is launching this week with two student companies: Savvy Tech and NuroSTREAM, whose founders will receive, along with the funding, office space, advising and network access. Both were part of the 2019 Terp Startup summer accelerator, which supports 10 to 15 teams over eight weeks as they work to advance their businesses.
“Each year at the close of the summer accelerator, we know there are ventures in the cohort who would benefit from an extension of Terp Startup and the Dingman Center’s resources, and this pilot of Terp Startup Fellows seeks to meet that need,” said Holly DeArmond MBA ’17, managing director of the Dingman Center. “During this first year, we plan to test our hypotheses and determine the best way to get some of these startups to commercialization and on the pathway to further funding.”
She and Director of Venture Development Sara Herald MBA ’17 will work directly with the new fellows, who will spend 10 hours a week in the center through May 2020.
Savvy Tech, which was featured at New York Fashion Week, was founded by finance major Thomas Savransky ’20 (CEO), finance and information systems double major Jonathan Schneider ’20 (COO) and University of Maryland, Baltimore County student Igor Savchenko ’20 (lead developer). Its ENLY app will allow customers to log their measurements and submit a selfie, then a 3D avatar will model how designer clothes would fit them. Users will also be able to purchase clothing through the app.
With the help of the Dingman Center, Savvy Tech is able to “fundamentally change our business,” Savransky said.
“As a team on a day-to-day basis, it gives us a lot of confidence to know that they don’t just support us and jump away,” Schneider said. “We really feel like we have their full support.”
Steven Jettoo ’20, CEO of NuroSTREAM, said being selected for the new program was validation for his business, which he started with COO Kirsten Newman ’15. NuroSTREAM aims to improve students’ learning curve using research-backed methods to improve memory.
As a computer science major, Jettoo is looking forward to working closely with DeArmond and Herald to reach business milestones.
“During the program over the summer, they had a lot of workshops that taught you those things, the things I would have to do trial and error to learn," he said.
Terp Startup Fellows is funded through a $200,000 gift from Bill Boyle ’81, donor and chairman of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s advisory board. Boyle has also served as a venture mentor and coach in various Dingman programs.
“We’re hoping that we can help them get to the next level,” Boyle said. “My goal is to get them to where they can be a company producing some revenue, and then they can come to our angel group and get more funding and be successful in launching a company.”