College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

Nourishmat Creators Win Cupid’s Cup!

UMD alums’ company, food gardening product bests inventions from around the country, earns them $50,000 in prize money
Founders of Earth Starter LLC and creators of the Nourishmat, Philip-Michael Weiner and John-Randall Gorby pose with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank after winning the 2013 Cupid's Cup.
Image Credit: 
Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

Their idea might seem simple: develop a product that allows anyone to grow vegetables in their own backyard without having to dig. But on Friday afternoon, University of Maryland alums John-Randall Gorby ’10 and Philip-Michael Weiner ’11 proved that sometimes simple is the surest route to success.

Gorby and Weiner won the $50,000 grand prize in the 2013 Cupid’s Cup, a competition created by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the UMD Robert H. Smith School of Business. The contest expanded nationally this year and attracted 55 applications from entrepreneurs at 25 universities in 16 states.

Gorby and Weiner wowed the judges in the final round of the competition April 5 with their invention, the Nourishmat: a polypropylene mat that shows budding vegetable gardeners exactly what and where to plant. It’s outfitted with a drip irrigation system that works by simply plugging in a hose and comes with a supply of seed balls included.

Gorby, a graduate from the Environmental Science and Technology Department, and Weiner, an Economics major, struck up a friendship after meeting in a Calculus class at the university. Weiner credits a sustainable farming class taught by Agricultural and Resource Economics professor Dale Johnson as one of the main inspirations for the Nourishmat. Read more about the story behind the invention here.

In addition to the $50,000 prize money, Gorby and Weiner will be granted exclusive access to a member of Maryland alumnus and Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank’s professional network. The Cupid’s Cup is named for the Valentine’s Day flower delivery business Plank started while an undergraduate at UMD.

The dynamic duo of Gorby and Weiner also walked away with the $2,500 Audience Choice Award. To learn more about the Nourishmat, visit

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