The University of Baltimore is always a hub of entrepreneurial activity, but on Sept. 20 that hub turned faster than it has in quite some time when the “Pitch Across Maryland” bus stopped by the Merrick School of Business, offering a chance for some of UB’s best student entrepreneurs to talk about their ideas for businesses with some highly successful business leaders.
Six of these students were selected by UB faculty experts as having the best ideas out of an original group of more than 50 students from all of UB’s schools.
For one of those six, Isaac Schleifer, the pitch resulted in more than an opportunity to learn how to describe his vision: It won the school’s grand prize of $1,000. A senior in the school’s business administration program, Schleifer offered a pitch that impressed the UB judges. His idea, called “Raffle Ready,” is a service and software package designed for nonprofits that want to hold grassroots fundraisers. The tool would automate the process of creating, promoting and managing a raffle, freeing up time for organizers to focus on outcomes, public relations, etc. Schleifer and his partners are currently in the final stages of development of the concept, and have already set up several successful turnkey raffle campaigns for local and national organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“I now know and feel strongly that you don’t have to go to Silicon Valley to start a tech company,” Schliefer said after his idea was selected as UB’s best. “You can do it in Baltimore and you can start it in the computer lab at UB.”
Additional prize money was generously donated by Leonard Attman and his wife, longtime supports of the Merrick School of Business, as a way to provide additional seed funding to the other five student entrepreneurs.
“This competition was moving, absolutely moving,” Leonard Attman said, “and I am so honored and proud to have been asked to participate.”
Merrick School of Business Dean Darlene Smith said she is looking forward to more entrepreneurial “show me” events in the future.
“There is a certain power, and a great takeaway, for a student entrepreneur to show their ideas to real-world business people,” Smith said. “It’s validating, thrilling, and of course a little intimidating. But that’s how small business is—you have to be ready to explain your concept and take on the ‘what if’ questions. It’s the ideal way to bring your idea one important step closer to fruition.”
More about the finalists and their ideas and links to their video pitches on the Start Up Maryland YouTube channel:
- Benjamin Bell offered an idea for a specialty dessert shop.
- Kimberly Brownlie offered an idea for a neighborhood bakery specializing in gluten free products.
- Austen Cohen offered an idea for adaptable high heels that fit women’s shoes.
- Jacob Goldberg offered a method for removing snow from roads.
- Matt Taylor offered an idea for a trustworthy web-based model for crowdfunding.
- Isaac Schleifer offered a product that helps with nonprofit fundraising.
(Left to right) Matt Taylor, Isaac Schleifer, Jason Goldberg,
Austen Cohen, Kimberley Brownlie, Benjamin Bell