Budding entrepreneurs from the University of Baltimore had a unique opportunity to share their ideas and concepts for new businesses with several successful business leaders when Startup Maryland's "Pitch Across Maryland" bus tour stopped for a rally at the UB campus on Sept. 20. The rally’s purpose was to see what entrepreneurial ideas UB students have percolating, and how they would take their business dream from concept to reality.
The bus, which toured the state Sept. 11-28, and stopped at select business incubators, economic development agencies, community colleges and universities to highlight entrepreneurship and allow the state's newest crop of entrepreneurs a chance to make their "elevator pitch" to those with experiences in starting and nurturing new businesses.
At UB, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture are highly regarded components of student learning, in the classroom and through internships, networking events and campus life. Many UB students are returning to school to earn a degree in hopes of launching their own business. Others are interested in social entrepreneurship—a burgeoning effort to pilot for-profit ventures with foundations and other nonprofits, all with the goal to strengthen their capabilities and extend their reach into new communities. Still others are young inventors or technology buffs, sparking their Web-based ventures and planning for a future in which individual expertise is more highly prized than ever.
"We believe that all of these different kinds of entrepreneurs offer a vision for a new economy that is already at work in Baltimore," said Johnetta Hardy, director of the University of Baltimore's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "They are college students, but they also are raising the bar for what it means to own and invest in a new business in the city. They bring energy, imagination and know-how to the University—as well as a lot of great questions about what makes a business really take off. That's why we were so pleased to have had the Pitch Across Maryland bus visit our campus. It's a window into a bright future for Baltimore.
The bus included a "video pit," a mobile recording studio where entrepreneurs climbed on board and recorded their brief business pitch. These pitches were uploaded to the competition site for entry into the state-wide business pitch competition.
Julie Lenzer Kirk, co-chair of Startup Maryland, said, "We're excited to discover the undiscovered entrepreneurs while helping the state ignite entrepreneurship and unite the different parts of Maryland's entrepreneurial ecosystem."
In the end, only one out of the 51 pitches could win UB’s pitch competition and the $1,000 seed funding for their business. That winner was senior business administration major Isaac Schleifer and his idea, called “Raffle Ready,” a service and software package designed for nonprofits that want to hold grassroots fundraisers.
Learn more about Schleifer and the other students. Click here to view photos from the event on Flickr.