'Challenge' Competition Crowns UB's Top Entrepreneurs
Seven students were named winners of the University of Baltimore's third annual Rise to the Challenge competition, with judges from the world of start-ups and small businesses assessing the merits of their various business proposals before an audience of nearly 200 on April 16. The competition, held in the Town Hall in UB's Learning Commons, is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from across UB's campus to describe their business concepts as they would to a venture capital executive, a potential customer, or even to a skeptical stranger. The winners take home a cash prize and offers of in-kind services, which they can use to develop their ideas.
"Between the enthusiasm of the crowd and the quality of the business pitches, this was one of our most successful competitions yet," said Johnetta Hardy, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the business school. "It's easy to imagine any one of these pitches turning into a hot product."
This year's Rise to the Challenge winners are:
Group and Category: Graduate Students – Existing Business
Student: Stacy Stube, B.S. '08, studying for an M.P.A. degree in UB's College of Public Affairs
Company: Art Village Education Hub (AVEH)
Prize: $2,500 in cash and more than $1,200 for in-kind services
AVEH promotes traditional handmade fashion connected with education and women's empowerment through strategic social entrepreneurship, with a focus on economic and social progress for female artisans and their villages in Bali, Indonesia. The island's emphasis on tourism decreases the availability of skilled artisans trained in traditional Balinese handmade fashion, while a lack of product promotion limits these artisans’ access to international luxury fashion markets. AVEH provides a showroom for the women’s skills in creating handmade fashion textiles in one location, and provides a positive social impact within the village community through economic stability. Once the business model is tested, the Art Village Showroom will be given back to the village as a community-owned initiative. Stube plans to create more artisan incubators around Indonesia.
Group and Category: (1) Graduate Students – New Business Idea and (2) Crowd Favorite
Students: Jessica Welch, Tracy Gold, Mia White, Justin Sanders, all M.P.A. students
Company: Sounding Sea: Editing, Tutoring and Writing Workshops
Prize: $500 in cash for first place, $250 in case for crowd favorite and more than $1,200 for in-kind services.
Sounding Sea is a Baltimore-based writers' community, offering editing, tutoring and writing workshops to a wide array of audiences, from those just beginning to write fiction, to established content providers seeking an editorial eye. The group's tutoring services are available to students who want to pick up skills they can then apply on their own, whether the focus is grammar or style, or both. Sounding Sea is seeking clients who come from backgrounds and experiences that reflect Baltimore’s diversity. As the group expands, it plans to expand its workshop offerings, and reach writers with interests in specific genres and subjects.
Group and Category: Undergraduate Students – Existing Business
Student: Collin Corcoran, a business administration major in the Merrick School of Business
Company: Premier Property Preservation
Prize: $2,500 in cash and more than $1,200 for in-kind services
Premier Property Preservation is involved in the revitalization of the housing market in Baltimore. By performing maintenance on residential properties owned by its clients, the company preserves the local housing stock and contributes to the increased availability of rental properties. Premier Property Preservation provides high quality services, and does work on bank-owned, foreclosures and houses slated for repurposing. The founder is a former carpenter and now a real estate agent.
Group and Category: Undergraduate Students – New Business Idea
Student: Joseph Napoli, a business administration major
Company: Unleash the Beach
Prize: $500 in cash and more than $1,200 for in-kind services
Unleash the Beach offers luxury pet housing services at an affordable cost in close proximity to Ocean City, Md. and Rehoboth Beach, De. The company will offer customers a variety of services, including pet grooming, play and exercise periods, on-call veterinarian services, webcam and social media access for pet owners, and "upgraded" rooms featuring additional options. With more than eight million visitors each year, Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach have great potential for pet service providers, Napoli said.
Rise to the Challenge judges included:
Will Backstrom, senior vice president and client and community relations director at PNC Bank
Scott Cotter, vice president for Evergreen Advisors
Jon Hazman of Home Dialysis of America
Content McLaughlin, partner attorney for the McLaughlin Law Firm
Andrew Rose, president, Zest SMS
Rise to the Challenge student coaches included:
Sean Carton, director for UB's Center for Digital Communication, Commerce & Culture
Jorge Castillo, CMO in residence at the Emerging Technology Center
Steve Cissel, founder and CEO of10-20 Media Inc.
Mark Czosnowski, commercial loan officer for TD Bank
Stewart Gold, executive director of the Maryland Entrepreneurship Center
Irene Gonzalez, president and CEO of NovoDux and executive director/producer of La Petite Noiseuse Productions
Donna F. Grigsby, vice president and communty development manager of TD Bank
Ramsey Harris, manager of LMI Lending Initiative for The PNC Financial Services Group
Paul Taylor, director of the Small Business Resource Center, Baltimore Development Corp.
Wayne Walsh, founder, the WiseWe Company
Aaron Wong, business banking relationship manager for The PNC Financial Services Group
First round judges included:
Daniel A. Gerlowski, professor of economics in the Merrick School of Business Department of Finance
Praneet Randhawa, assistant professor in the Merrick School of Business Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship
Lisa T. Stickney, professor of Management in the Merrick School of Business Department of Management and International Business
Learn more about the Merrick School of Business.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.