Start-Up Maryland Seeks To Promote New Business
OCEAN CITY — The second annual Start-Up Maryland returned to Ocean City this week, beginning its next round of promoting the state’s entrepreneurs.
Businessmen and women are being invited throughout September to participate in Start-Up’s bus tour by visiting event stops to record a video pitch for their product or idea that could earn them a spot in the upcoming Invest Maryland Challenge.
Start-Up Maryland got the full support of Worcester County and Ocean City Monday when the bus made the resort its first stop.
“In Ocean City, we thrive on our business community and the success of our local entrepreneurs,” said City Councilwoman Mary Knight. “If it weren’t for the talent, skills, creativity and innovation of our Maryland residents, we would not have the landmark business that you see in Ocean City today.”
It’s not just Ocean City that should benefit from Start-Up but all of Worcester as well as the rest of the state, according to organizers Julie Lenzer Kirk and Mike Zinko.
“We are for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs,” said Kirk. “We try to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start and grow their business.”
Through Start-Up, which is in its second year, business-inclined individuals have the opportunity to meet with Kirk and Zinko and record a short summary and pitch of their idea. All of the videos will be edited together and posted online after the Start-Up bus is finished its tour of Maryland in late September. People can then vote on their favorite video pitches. The most viewed videos will receive a “fan-favorite” designation.
“The start-up with the most views, the top three, will be announced as our fan favorites for that part of the competition,” said Zinko.
Besides the fan favorite, Start-Up will also be bringing in a panel of experts in entrepreneurism to judge all of the pitches and select the eight that show the most potential.
“Nov. 18 our eight finalists will get a chance to pitch in front of a crowded room at the BWI Marriott just like they did last year and another panel will then whittle it down to a winner and a runner-up,” said Zinko.
The top two from that field of eight will then be entered in the Invest Maryland Challenge with fees waived going into the second round review.
Entrepreneurs and government officials lauded Start-Up during their visit. The organization has succeeded in bringing in new ideas and new people across Maryland, according to State Senator Jim Mathias.
“This is what we can do together, when you turn around and look. And the ideas here are the ideas that came from new, young, bright business people that have taken our state forward,” he said. “And I hear these criticisms that Maryland is not the right place to do business. What do you think? I think Maryland is absolutely the best place to do business.”
County Commission President Bud Church predicted that Start-Up’s tour of the area will serve to highlight why starting a business in Worcester is a good idea.
“We think the tour will provide you with a compelling reason on why to choose Worcester County where you can truly have the best of both worlds,” he said.
A number of entrepreneurs turned out to hear the presentation and to record video pitches for Start-Up. Eric Belardo, owner of Digital Youth Experience in West Ocean City, thanked the Worcester County Economic Development Department for a recent loan of funds to purchase a 3D printer, which will be used in classes beginning this week.
“Our goal was, initially, to educate all ages, ages 10 and up, in all of the new technology, electronics, robotics and Android mobile applications,” he said. “And with the help of Worcester County Economic Development we are able to provide new classes in 3D modeling and 3D printing. This is experimental technology that is not available anywhere else.”
From Berlin, Austin Widdowson, owner of Refresh Media, expressed excitement on doing business on the lower shore.
“We’re a digital media group, which I think is general on purpose. We do a lot of film work, commercial advertisements from every level and web development but our real goal is to tell the story of the people we work with and I feel like there are a lot of great stories here on the Eastern Shore and I look forward to telling them all,” he said.