March 2018


SECU was pleased to participate in the recent Pitch Dingman Competition, the University of Maryland’s business competition which awarded nearly $30,000 in seed funding to top student entrepreneurs in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch session.

In addition to co-sponsoring the competition, SECU took part in the judging. SECU Vice President of Branch Banking Michele Moore served as one of the competition judges, along with executive leadership from CVENT, PreciseTarget, RRR Automotive, Tracker Group, Venable LLP, and competition chairman, philanthropist Robert G. Hisaoka.

Symbiont Health, maker of innovative technology to detect falls for seniors and nursing home patients, was the winner of the competition’s $15,000 grand prize. The company is led by three Marylanders attending the University of Maryland – Kensington native Erich Meissner; Germantown native Maria Chen; and Kyle Liu, originally from Potomac, MD.

Hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the Pitch Dingman Competition drew nearly 600 students, faculty, alumni and VIPs to watch the student entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to the panel of expert judges. The judges assessed each startup's current level of success, plan for using the funds and their overall growth potential.

Other winners were:

  • $7,500 Second Prize: BEEQBOX (founder Brianna Queen), a vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics company featuring feminist branding;
  • $3,500 Third Prize: Dark Sonar Technologies (founder George Lee), a cybersecurity company that prevents synthetic identity fraud on websites and mobile apps; and
  • $1,000 Audience Choice (decided by text voting): Flee (founder Didac Hormiga), a mobile app that helps students discover events and entertainment around campus.

Emprology, a marketing consultancy working with minority female bloggers, vloggers and podcasters founded by Sydney Parker, was also a finalist.

"It was an honor to be involved in the Pitch Dingman Competition,” says SECU’s Michele Moore. “At SECU, we’re dedicated to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs in Maryland. I am confident the involvement of SECU and the other sponsors helped to sharpen these young entrepreneur’s skills in explaining their business models and delivering compelling pitches. This competition clearly shows that entrepreneurship is alive and well at the University of Maryland.”

Pitch Dingman applications opened at the beginning of the academic year, with a short quarterfinal phase in October 2017. Ten semifinalists competed on November 16 to narrow the field to the five finalists. All semifinalist teams took part in the inaugural cohort of the Hisaoka Entrepreneurs program of coaching and workshops to further accelerate their ventures.

Ray Weiss or Jessica Tiller
410-303-5019 or

About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center is one of the nation's preeminent institutions where the research, education and practice of entrepreneurship are pursued vigorously. The Center, located at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, develops and executes curricular and co-curricular programs to support the startup community.