By: Diane Stirling
It’s been a whirlwind, winning week for student entrepreneur Dan Goldberg.
On November 15, the School of information Studies senior took top place in this year’s Ivy Sports Symposium, a competition where he pitched to sports-world executives and business leaders.
Last Thursday, he took first place in the Entrepreneurs Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, essentially qualifying him as this year’s best student entrepreneur in the nation. As the competition’s national winner, he’ll represent the United States in that organization’s global student entrepreneurship competition in April.
“I’m happy I could take the win,” Dan, a partner in startup Diamond MMA said understatedly. “It has been a fun seven days; the past week has been pretty good.”
Dan’s already thinking about the next objective. “I’m going to celebrate the win, but I haven’t achieved the goal yet. I want to win the whole thing, and this is one step to get there,” he said of the global competition. “It’s part one of a two-part journey that I want to accomplish this year. Now I have the opportunity to actually achieve what I want to.”
Typical of his ambition and perspective, Goldberg is headed right back to work now. The Chicago event allows him several days to work side-by-side with one of the startup’s partners who lives there. “These competitions are great, but a little distracting,” Dan says. “They’re not really the things that grow your business. I’m not on the phone making sales calls, or trying to close a new account, or doing the things that actually grow the business.”
Diamond MMA produces a protective sports cup, but the company is more than a manufacturer, Dan explains; it’s a company with a mission. “We’re all so blessed and so lucky, because of the amount of passion and energy we have about our business. We share the same vision. We’re in the business of protecting people, that’s the only thing on our mind right now.
The Ivy Sports Symposium win earned the Diamond MMA team valuable in-kind services and mentorship opportunities from the event judges, plus a round-trip air fare to any destination in the world. Dan expects to use that to visit a product manufacturing plant, he said. The top prize at the Entrepreneurs Organization student competition is $10,000, funds Goldberg plans to put back into the business.
Dan reflected on how a change in his thinking helped him turn around an impressive, but less-than-hoped-for series of second and third-place standings in earlier entrepreneurship competitions. Sometimes, he thinks student entrepreneurs may sell themselves a little short, perhaps due to a bit of natural doubt, he said. That was something he also experienced until he got some advice from the founder of Underarmour at a competition last year. That exchange “really changed the way I think,” he said. “I [now] say, ‘Why not? Why can’t we be the next Nike.’ I’m going to continue to say ‘why not’ because I truly believe anything is possible.”