This episode of Bootstrapped features UMD alumna Lauren Foundos ’06, a former Maryland varsity field hockey player, and Founder and CEO of FORTË. After years of working in the finance industry, Foundos left the stability of her well-paying job to start FORTË, a technology company that helps gyms and studios livestream their classes. An entrepreneur ahead of her time, Foundos came up with the idea for FORTË after inviting her clients to her daily gym workouts. As global lifestyles shifted after the COVID-19 outbreak, the FORTË model became an investment win, with demand increasing by the second. Tune in as we discuss raising capital with big-time investors, entering the tech space with no tech experience, and the importance of perseverance amidst a venture’s most troubling moments.
On this episode of Bootstrapped we discuss running a business in a post-COVID world with Oliver Schlake, Clinical Professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. With years of academic and professional research under his belt, Schlake is a dictionary for all things entrepreneurship. We dive deep into the pressing questions of our time, including adapting a venture to our changing economy and planning ahead for life after quarantine. In our conversation, we learn how entrepreneurs can prioritize their business operations and optimize their time to sustain their business in an uncertain future. Join us as Schlake highlights the importance of resilience and capacity for agility in this highly requested Bootstrapped feature.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we sat down with our Entrepreneur-in-residence Harry Geller ’81, who has over forty years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and mentor. Geller shares invaluable insights and real-world advice from his experience turning his startup Global Mail into a 60 million dollar success. He also takes us through the startups and investments that followed, including running fine-dining establishments that turned into 10 million dollar businesses. Through his journey as a mentor and angel investor for the Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship, he discusses what is needed to scale a venture and run a business through tough times. Tune in now, and grab a pen and paper because you’re going to want to take notes!
This episode of Bootstrapped features the story of University of Maryland alumni entrepreneur Aaron Epstein ’03, founder of Creative Market. From small beginnings in his college dorm room, Epstein started Creative Market by creating a color-matching web-based service during the dot com boom. After graduating from UMD, he became a self-taught developer and designer to turn his website into an app. Through eventual partnerships with his Co-Founder and collaborations with Y Combinator in Silicon Valley, Epstein was able to transform his idea from a website that generated petty cash to a a full-on marketplace for graphic design assets from independent creators around the world. Join us as Epstein shares what he wishes he would have known as a young entrepreneur and how his connections in San Francisco aided him in making strategic decisions for his company.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we talk PYT -- not the Michael Jackson song, but rather the clean beauty brand. Maryland Smith alumna Mary Schulman ’97 discusses her entrepreneur journey as the founder and CEO of PYT Beauty, a makeup brand that offers beauty without the BS, that is, without the harsh chemicals contained in beauty products that can be toxic to the skin. Prior to PYT, Schulman founded a Natural snack company called Snikiddy Snacks in 2006. The company gained the attention of Utz Quality Foods, which bought the company for their delicious puff products. Utilizing her past experience as a founder and her finance background, Schulman decided to launch PYT Beauty. Listen and learn how her daughter inspired the company’s mission, how she’s using her marketing strategy to stand out in the beauty industry, and how she’s managing a team of people who live in different states.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we dive into the story of Amanda Nachman ’07, founder and CEO of College Magazine. A QUEST Honors Program alumna and English major, Nachman began her venture with an idea that she submitted for a business project. Nachman envisioned a trusted guide on how to navigate college, an idea that ultimately became College Magazine. In 2007, Nachman launched the print publication at the University of Maryland and structured her company through an ad-revenue model. She went on to win Kevin Plank’s Cupid’s Cup student business competition, and today the company reaches over nine million readers. Tune in to learn how Nachman built her online platform, designed fully integrated marketing campaigns, and ultimately inspires young professionals to unapologetically pursue their passions.
This episode of Bootstrapped follows the story of QUEST alumnus Sahil Rahman ’12, co-Founder of RASA, an Indian Fast Casual restaurant located in Washington, D.C. Equipped with a bachelor’s degree in Operations and Supply Chain Management, Rahman launched his career as a Business Analyst for Deloitte. Then, in 2014, he and his childhood best friend, fellow UMD Alum, Rahul Vinod ’11, followed the footsteps of their restaurateur fathers and started RASA. The duos vision for delivering traditional Indian food through the lens of a trendy, fast-casual restaurant has attracted tremendous attention and numerous accolades. In fact, the company is planning a major area expansion alongside NFL Redskins star Vernon Davis. Listen now to learn about building customer loyalty, attracting angel investors and climbing the ladder of the culinary industry.
This episode of Bootstrapped features University of Maryland alumna Lauren Filocco '12, Founder of OpenBarre in College Park. Filocco’s background in supply chain and operations management from the University of Maryland landed her positions at McCormick & Company and Amazon. A few years into her corporate career, Filocco became obsessed with taking Barre classes. After spending 10 hours a week in the studio, she had the wild idea of opening up a studio of her own in College Park, Maryland. She took the leap, quit her job and began her journey as an entrepreneur. Tune in to find out how Filocco built her studio from the ground up and grew a community of athletes that have not only become her core customers, but also her family.
Kombucha may be sour, but to our guest entrepreneur it's a sweet business opportunity. On this episode we interviewed Sergio Malarin ’13, Co-Founder of Mobtown Fermentation, the brewery behind Wild Kombucha. A University of Maryland alumnus with a major in history, Malarin worked for a time as a manager at Thompson Creek Window Company but found his calling as an entrepreneur after his brother perfected a home recipe for kombucha. Malarin reveals how he used supply chain and community engagement to build his brand, and discusses where he hopes to take Mobtown Fermentation in the future.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed serial entrepreneur Ori Zohar ’07, co-founder of spice company Burlap & Barrel. A University of Maryland alumnus who majored in Marketing and participated in the QUEST Honors Program, Zohar speaks on the struggles and triumphs of his entrepreneurial experiences, beginning with his very first venture: selling cap and gowns while he was a student at UMD. Zohar defines two entrepreneur archetypes and outlines his career journey as “The Operator” type. From graduation gear to mortgages to spices, Zohar spills the tea on what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur. He also details the secrets behind the launch of his current endeavor, Burlap & Barrel, and how a fascination with cumin lead to the first comprehensive single origin spice company in the United States.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed Andy Shallal, MBA ’19, founder and CEO of Busboys and Poets. Shallal founded the iconic restaurant chain in 2005, where it started from a restaurant/events venue/coffee shop/bar/bookstore in D.C. and expanded to eight locations today across the DMV. After years of operating his business, Shallal returned to school through Maryland Smith’s Executive MBA program, where he acquired newfound tools to help his empire soar. Shallal sits down with the Bootstrapped hosts to discuss his motivations for starting Busboys and Poets, how his passion for democracy became the bedrock of the business, and the challenges he’s faced in building Busboys and Poets to what is is today and what it can soon become.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed University of Maryland alumnus Pramod Raheja '91, co-founder and CEO of Airgility and mystaffNOW. Since graduating from Maryland, Pramod navigated a split career as an Airline Captain for United Airlines and also as a serial entrepreneur. Now as the CEO of Airgility, Pramod has been able to leverage his experience as an entrepreneur and as an alumnus at UMD to bring his passion for aerospace engineering to life. On this episode, Pramod shares his experience combining his love of the aerospace industry and entrepreneurship, and how he’s been able to maintain his passion for flight at the center of it all.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed University of Maryland alumnus Zeki Mokhtarzada '00, co-founder of TrueBill and formerly of Webs. After graduating from Maryland, Zeki was ready for a life of entrepreneurship and he knew exactly where to find co-founders. Alongside his brothers, Zeki co-founded Webs, one of the earliest free web hosts. Together, Zeki and his brothers led Webs to an acquisition to Vistaprint in 2011, and they’ve since gone on to found TrueBill, a company dedicated to tracking and managing all of your finances in one place. On this episode, Zeki shares his experiences balancing family and business, as well as leading a team focused on innovation.
On the season 6 premiere of Bootstrapped, host Joe Bailey and new co-host Holly DeArmond, MBA '17, managing director of the Dingman Center, interviewed University of Maryland alumnus Bill Boyle ’81. Bill is the founder of FiberGate, Inc, chairman of the Dingman Center’s Board of Advisors and an active member of the Dingman Center Angels. From Fiber Optics to the funding table, Bill Boyle has leveraged his experience building and running his own venture into a successful career as an angel investor and venture mentor to numerous students. On this episode, Bill shares his experience running FiberGate for 17 years until its successful exit, and provides a firsthand account of his journey into the world of advising and angel investing.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed current University of Maryland student Jasmine Snead ’19 and alumna Imani Rickerby ’17, co-founders of 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition finalist startup Aurora Tights. As both women of color and figure skaters, Jasmine and Imani struggled to find tights that matched their skin tone, and saw their performance and confidence suffer as a result. To solve this problem, in college they started Aurora Tights, an athletic brand that designs performance sports gear in an array of tones for all complexions and sizes. On this episode, Jasmine and Imani share how they explored consumer interest, navigated contract manufacturing and formed a diverse team to help all women feel comfortable in their skin.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed Radio & Television host Santana Moss. Moss played in the NFL for fourteen seasons. As the first-round pick in the 2001 NFL draft, Santana knew that he was going to need to take proactive measures to maintain his newly acquired wealth. Santana adopted a live and learn approach to entrepreneurship and began investing in real estate and other small businesses. All with varying degrees of success. From his early missteps, he gradually learned what to look for in an investment. On this episode, Santana shares how he learned the hard way that you shouldn’t blindly trust everyone you come across and the importance of perseverance following failure.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed alumnus Jay Sunny Bajaj ’99, the Founder and CEO of DMI and a Robert H. Smith School of Business advisory board member. Growing up with two entrepreneurs as parents, Sunny knew he was going to have his own business one day. Now, Sunny operates a $350 million company that offers comprehensive digital solutions to federal and commercial markets. On this episode, Sunny discusses how he stayed close to innovation to win contracts in the federal market space, and how he shifted his mindset from entrepreneur to CEO to grow as a leader alongside his business.
Listen to Dr. Charlene Brown’s story of starting CareGiver Jobs Now (formerly Reciprocare Jobs), a recruiting platform to help caregivers find jobs in the healthcare industry. She shares the challenges of balancing a two-sided market and navigating product market fit.
As a student hockey player at University of Maryland, startup founder Stephen Steinberg developed a powerful yet safe-on-skin cleaning solution for his smelly sports gear. Learn how he bootstrapped his company, Raw Athletics, which sells green cleaning products to gyms, athletic teams and consumers all over the country.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed UMD alumnus and co-founder and CEO of Zentail Daniel Sugarman ’10. Daniel and his co-founder, Daniel Sperling-Horowitz, first launched a business called HD Trade Services that used technology to decrease fraud in international trading. After entering Y Combinator, they ultimately realized their business model was not sustainable, pivoted, and renamed themselves Zentail to offer their strong automation and data analytics software to retailers. Today, Zentail is an ecommerce platform that gives online retailers and brands the ability to sync catalog and inventory data, maintain competitive pricing, obtain analytics and ship products through channels such as Amazon, Jet.com and Walmart. In this episode, Daniel shares how forming a network and understanding the capital structure behind his startup allowed him to pivot his idea to a different runway while leveraging his current strengths.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed founder and owner of MOM’s Organic Market Scott Nash. Scott started MOM’s Organic Market in 1987, selling produce out of his mother’s garage and using his sister’s Chevy Malibu to deliver grocery orders at night. Today, Scott has grown MOM’s Organic Market to a point where it has stores in four states and Washington D.C., employs more than 1,000 people and has a dedicated following of customers committed to its purpose of protecting and restoring the environment. In this episode, Scott discusses the slow and methodical approach to his growth, how branding is the most valuable aspect of MOM’s and how progressive and socially active values are integral to his business.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, our executive producer switched to the special guest chair as we interviewed UMD alumnus Oscar Zeballos EMBA ’16, co-founder of Podcast Village and executive producer of Bootstrapped. Often, podcasters have a difficult time nailing every aspect of their show as they don’t always have the resources or know-how. To resolve this pain point, Oscar created Podcast Village to provide a turnkey solution for podcasters to collaborate and create their video or audio show at the highest level possible. On this episode of Bootstrapped, Oscar discusses the business model behind Podcast Village, the future he sees for podcasting and how he leveraged his network and unfair advantages to bring his vision to fruition.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed alumnus Jon Chapman MBA '07, Co-Founder and President of EverFi, a leading EdTech company. Jon and his co-founders launched EverFi during the recession of 2008, when they identified an opportunity to teach young adults critical skills such as financial literacy through a gamified educational platform. EverFi’s strategy allows private sector entities ranging from banks like BB&T to professional sports leagues like the NHL and NFL to private label EverFi’s product and partner with EverFi to run educational programs in communities they care about. In this episode, Jon details how EverFi focused on understanding their clients as well as their end consumers, and how EverFi went from a bootstrapped company in 2008 to raising $190 M in a Series D round in 2017.
Entrepreneurship can be overwhelming. Social entrepreneurship, more so! In this episode, Melissa Bradley explains the nuances of social entrepreneurship and how social entrepreneurs can make the impact they set out to make.
On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed UMD alumnus Eddie Inlow MBA ’09, founder and CEO of Shift Transit. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Eddie had extensive experience in strategy and operations, having worked on the leadership team at Under Armour and consulting for Best Buy and Ross Stores. Eddie’s first exposure to the bike share industry was when he worked for Atla Bicycle Share as the General Manager of the Chicago program in 2013, and he later transitioned into the role of COO for the company. It was in 2015 that Eddie went off on his own to found Shift Transit, a comprehensive bike share service provider that collaborates with cities to launch personalized bike share programs. In this episode, Eddie discusses how he tailors his program to each individual city, the rapid evolution of the bike share industry and the challenges of working in the public-private partnership space as an entrepreneur.