Pitch Dingman Competition 2022
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The Pitch Dingman Competition is UMD’s premier annual venture competition, where undergraduate and graduate Terps compete for more than $75,000 in startup funding!

Applications open in the winter, with the main event in late Spring. Top student entrepreneurs deliver pitches to judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, angel investing and venture capital. In addition to the opportunities for seed funding, competition participants gain access to exclusive workshops and mentoring.

Applicants will be evaluated on the uniqueness of their ideas, the current traction and scalability of their business, and the viability of their business as measured by the steps that they have taken to mitigate risks. For the Semifinal and Final rounds, judges will also take into consideration the contestants' progress toward their goals and steps taken to grow their business since time of application.  

General Information

How to Enter: The Pitch Dingman Competition uses the Reviewr platform to manage applications. To enter, the designated team leader should complete the online enrollment form found at go.umd.edu/pdcapp2021. The application for all three tracks must be completed no later than February 4, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

Eligibility in brief: All current University of Maryland - College Park students, both graduate and undergraduate, are welcome to apply. UMD-CP at Shady Grove students, and students who graduated in December 2021 or January 2022 are also eligible to compete. Applicant teams must be composed of at least 50% UMD-CP students. Those students must be founders of the venture and currently serving in management roles. Ventures of any industry are welcome. 

Key Dates

David & Robyn Quattrone Venture Track + Main Street Track
Applications open: January 18, 2022, at 12 a.m.
Application deadline: February 4, 2022, at 11:59 p.m.
Quarterfinalists notified: February 24, 2022
Semifinalists notified: February 24, 2022
Pitch Dingman Competition semifinals: April 8, 2022
Fearless Ideas Track
Applications open: January 18, 2022, at 12 a.m.
Application deadline: February 4, 2022, at 11:59 p.m.
Finalists notified: February 24, 2022
All Tracks
Pitch Dingman Competition finals: April 26, 2022

Prizes

The David & Robyn Quattrone Venture Track
Who: tech ventures with some traction (as measured by revenue, users, and/or external investment) and high potential for scalability.
Prizes:
Grand Prize: $30,000
Second Place Prize: $10,000
Other Sponsored Prizes: various amounts & $1,500 in AWS credits

Main Street Track
Who: ventures of any stage with at least $1,000 in lifetime revenue. Non-tech ventures, ventures that intend to remain local, and those that are not focused on scale are also encouraged to compete in this track.
Prizes:
Grand Prize: $20,000
Second Place Prize: $7,500
Other Sponsored Prizes: various amounts & $1,500 in AWS credits

Fearless Ideas Track
Who: idea-stage ventures created during the current academic year, with either no revenue at all or a lifetime revenue under $1,000.
Prizes:
Grand Prize: $5,000 + Reserved spot in the Terp Startup Accelerator (including $5,000 stipend)
Other sponsored Prizes: various amounts

GENERAL NOTICES    

  • Entry Fees: Pitch Dingman Competition does not have an entry fee.
  • Changes to Competition Rules: While not anticipated, these rules and prizes are subject to change at the discretion of the Dingman Center at any time. The Dingman Center staff has the right to interpret these rules according to its own judgment.

ELIGIBILITY & REQUIREMENTS

Who’s eligible to submit an application?

The competition is for undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled on a full- or part-time basis for the academic year (i.e., from August 2021 through May 2022) at the University of Maryland College Park or the Robert H. Smith School of Business campuses at Shady Grove, Baltimore, and/or Reagan. You may be required to provide proof of enrollment, such as transcripts. 

  • I graduate in the winter term, can I still compete?  Yes!
  • I am taking a gap year or gap semester in Spring 2022, can I still compete?  No, only active students during the current academic year are eligible to submit an application. If the other 50% of your leadership team is composed of active UMD students, though, your venture would still be eligible. 
  • Can I compete again if I applied to a previous Pitch Dingman Competition?  Yes. Students who have competed previously and who were not selected as Finalists the year before are highly encouraged to reapply.
  • What if I was a Finalist in the Quattrone Venture Track or Main Street Track last year?  The top Finalists from previous Pitch Dingman Competitions can wait a year and then compete again. They are however prohibited from competing in the year right after placing in the Finals (i.e. a Finalist in 2019 cannot compete in 2020, but can compete in 2021). 
  • If I won or was a Finalist in the Fearless Ideas Track, can I compete next year?  Yes. Winners of the Fearless Ideas Track are allowed and encouraged to compete in any track in the following year and are not required to wait. 
  • I’m also a participant in the Terp Startup Fellows, New Venture Practicum and/or Ladies First-- can I apply?  Please do!

What kind of ventures are eligible to compete?

The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed, startup, or early growth stages. Ventures can be in any industry, and must have a revenue-generating model. Both for-profits and nonprofits are allowed to apply, as long as 50% or more of the venture’s revenue is gained from earned revenue. 

Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming the technologies have not been commercialized previously. Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, license agreements to expand current distribution, and spin-outs from existing corporations. 

The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship has the final decision on which teams are invited to compete in the Pitch Dingman Competition and reserves the right to include or exclude any teams in its sole discretion in its sole discretion for any reason.

I’m eligible to apply; what are the requirements for my venture team?

Student Leadership Roles:

The competition is for student-created and -managed ventures, including new ventures launched by licensing university technology. Students are expected to:

  • be the driving force behind the new venture,
  • have played the primary role in developing the business plan,
  • have key management (“C” level, director or founder) roles in the venture, and
  • own at least 50% equity in the venture.

In general, an active UMD student should be CEO, COO, President or Director of the venture, and/or make up 50% of the key management team. This requirement applies to for-profits and nonprofits. 

Members of the student team are expected to also own equity in the new venture, at least 50% of the equity. Recognizing that the equity structure of these new university-based ventures may not yet be established, the 50% equity ownership rule may be waived in some situations and will be examined on a case-by-case basis. As nonprofits do not have an equity structure, the equity requirement is waived for these ventures.

The above rules are in place to protect UMD student founders and exclude ventures formed and managed by non-students who have given little or no equity to students for writing their business plan

Team Composition:

Non-students may be members of the venture’s founding/management team and may participate in planning the venture. However, only UMD students may compete (present the plan on-stage and answer questions from the competition judges). 

There is no restriction on the total size of the venture’s team, though only 2 of the student leaders from one team are allowed to pitch onstage.

Attendance:

To be considered for any award, all pitching (presenting) team members must arrive at Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals and at Pitch Dingman Competition Finals at the scheduled arrival time. You must also attend all coaching sessions as specified in the timeline.

Required Forms:

Each team will be required to provide appropriate documentation to receive award payments, which include W-9 and/or EIN forms. No prizes will be awarded without the required forms submitted.

What do I need to complete my Application?

You must complete an application for your team to be considered for the Pitch Dingman Competition. You may indicate which track you prefer in the application. Based on your interest and your application responses, the Dingman Center will make the final decision for which track your venture will compete in.

All tracks' application consist of a series of questions about you and your business as well as a pitch deck, though there are some track-based differences below.

The Fearless Ideas Track: Be prepared to answer what your venture idea does, what problem it solves, and for whom. Additionally, you will prepare a short pitch presentation (no more than 5-7 slides) providing a brief overview of your business idea and a 3-minute video pitch. While the video should cover most of the information from your pitch deck, feel free to be creative in how you communicate this information. Some topics to include in the pitch deck are:

  • What problem are you trying to solve? How many people have this problem?
  • What is your solution to the problem? 
  • Previous attempt(s) at solving this problem and why is your solution better?
  • How will you make money?
  • Founder team– What backgrounds and experiences do they bring?
  • Use of prize funds

The Quattrone Venture Track and Main Street Track: In addition to some clarifying questions, you will prepare a short pitch presentation providing a brief overview of your business idea. It is meant to help you—as an entrepreneur—to practice and hone your ability to verbalize and sell the idea to early stage investors such as friends and family, angel investors and venture capital firms. The key is to share your passion and enthusiasm for your idea. Your pitch deck should be short (no more than 5-7 slides) and to the point. Some topics to consider for the application questions and to include in your pitch deck are:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How big is your problem? Talk about addressable market size.
  • What is your solution to the problem? What is the value proposition for the customer?
  • Who are your competitors and why is your solution better?
  • How will you make money? What are your revenue stream(s)? Marketing and distribution strategy?
  • Management team– What backgrounds and experiences do they bring?
  • Current traction– Do you have existing revenue?
  • Plan moving forward—how will you use the prize money to grow your business and what are your targets for the next six months?

Teams will also want to submit materials that will be used in print, web, and other media including: 

  • Team Descriptions 
  • Team/Team member photos 
  • Product or prototype photos (if applicable) 
  • Company Logo (high resolution files)

​How will my application be evaluated? 

The competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges function as early stage venture capital investors deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the size of the market, the competitive differentiation, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions. Ultimately, the winning team should be the team in which the judges would most likely invest their money.

Most of the judges of the Dingman Center come from the investment community and are involved in making early-stage investment decisions on an ongoing basis. Their ranking of the top teams is guided by the scorecard (described below), but should be consistent with the approach that would be used by an early-stage venture capital or angel investor.  Judges will consist of Dingman Center Staff, Venture Mentors, and Panel Judges invited for the competition.

Judging Criteria - Main St & Quattrone Tracks

  • Company addresses a clear problem or opportunity. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Revenue model is clearly articulated and meets customers' needs. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Company clearly articulates a solution to a unique value proposition. In other words, how clearly do you understand the product or service this team has developed and how it solves a problem or provides a benefit to a customer? (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Company demonstrates a sustainable competitive advantage. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Company has validated its market through clear progress in terms of product, customers, or revenue. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Company has a clear plan or high potential to scale. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Existing or planned team can credibly implement the business plan. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Company has clearly defined targets for growth and a practical plan for how to reach them. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Would you recommend this company as one of our semifinalists? (Y/N)

Judging Criteria - Fearless Ideas Track

  • Venture addresses a clear problem or opportunity. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Presenter has a meaningful understanding of the problem/opportunity and its impact. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Solution proposed has a clear value proposition and will affect the selected problem. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Venture clearly identifies the target customer and/or market. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Venture demonstrates a sustainable competitive advantage. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Revenue model is realistic and understandable. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Presenter wants to launch this venture and describes how the prize money will propel them to the next stage. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Slides and video are professional and convey the information effectively. (Scored on a scale 1-10)
  • Would you recommend this company as one of our 3 finalists? (Y/N)

ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES & INFORMATION

Decisions regarding the Competition and the Winners: All decisions regarding the competition rules, procedures, and processes are at the sole discretion of the Dingman Center. Changes and/or interpretations of these rules may be made by the Dingman Center at any time, even though they may be (or may appear to be) in conflict with some previously published information. The selection of the teams to compete and the decision of the winners are at the sole discretion of the judges and the Dingman Center. Best efforts will be made to make decisions in accordance with this Official Rules document.

Use of Competition Materials: The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship reserves the right to use any material prepared for the Pitch Dingman Competition (PDC) in publicizing and promoting the event. The Dingman Center may use these materials in any printed materials and any Pitch Dingman Competition videotape or other medium that it may produce. The Dingman Center may videotape any portion of the Competition and utilize these tapes in any way that it sees fit.

Non-confidentiality: All sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include radio, television and the internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that could possibly enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged, or presented in these sessions.

Non-Disclosure Statements: Due to the nature of the competition, we are not able to ask judges, reviewers, staff, or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements. However, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship as the organizer of the Pitch Dingman Competition, will make every effort to limit distribution of business plans presented at the competition. The Dingman Center cannot guarantee that other individuals will not obtain access to electronic or hard copies of the business plan. All presentations are open to the general public, and some presentations may be videotaped.

Copyrights & Permissions: If a team uses copyrighted materials and/or images from a third-party in their submissions or presentations, they must obtain permission and authorization in advance from the owners to use this material.

Participant Responsibility for Information: Information presented by the competitor(s) at the Pitch Dingman Competition is the sole responsibility of the competitor(s). The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship has not taken, and does not intend to take, any steps to verify the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, materials or statements presented by the competitor(s). The competitor(s), and not the Dingman Center, is responsible for ensuring the competitor(s) compliance with all applicable federal, state and other securities laws, and it is solely the competitor(s) responsibility to comply with any of such laws that are applicable.