Maryland Startups Square Off With Texas Governor Rick Perry

Startup Maryland, Startup Bus, Governor Rick PerryWhile he hasn’t declared his candidacy for President of the United States in 2016, we can just about count on the fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry will run for the Republican nomination. It’s just about as sure a thing as Hillary running for the Democratic nomination.

Even though he isn’t officially a candidate Perry has been making the rounds both internationally and nationally, soft campaigning and warming people up to his way of thinking.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Governor Perry was in Bethesda Maryland for meetings with local political and business officials. The Governor’s meetings were taking place at Morton’s steak house a popular restaurant in the Maryland suburb of Washington DC.

It was there that the Startup Maryland bus, loaded with entrepreneurs and startup founders pitching their companies across the state, came face to face with the Republican Governor.

“If you want to live in a state where you have high taxes and a relatively burdensome regulatory climate, if you want to live in a state where the litigation is relatively easy to get into, then go live in those states,”  Perry had told local website BethesdaNow earlier in the day.

“The messaging from Governor Perry is laser focused on the tax environment,” said Startup Maryland co-chair Michael Binko told the Washington Post. “If businesses are only looking at the tax environment for where they should go to succeed, we think that’s shortsighted as entrepreneurs and probably a recipe for disaster.”

Binko is not alone. The issues of lower tax rates and lower cost of living are always popping up in the Silicon Valley vs “everywhere else” startup debate, with PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy saying “But there’s a reason I never talk up taxes or cost of living as reasons other startup ecosystems will take off: Because none of the people who really matter give a shit about these things.” in this article addressing tax breaks, rates and cost of living for startups outside the valley.

While we’re not going to debate politics on the pages of, the current administration has overseen the passing and rolling out of the JOBS ACT, they’re looking at immigration reform that will make it easier for foreign founders to grow their startups here, and they’ve hosted a slew of startup focused events in conjunction with Startup America.

With the weight of turning the economy around falling on developing new businesses startups will be a hot issue in the 2016 campaign.

As for Maryland’s startup bus, this is the second year for the Startup Maryland bus which stops at various cities across the state and invites entrepreneurs and startup founders onto the bus to record video pitches. The pitches are voted on at the end of the bus tour.  The bus tour started in Ocean City Maryland on September 9th and runs through September 27th.



Accelerate Baltimore Extends Application Deadline To December 21st

AccelerateBaltimore,ETC,Baltimore startups,startup acceleratorThe holidays are upon us but for entrepreneurs and startup founders across the state of Maryland, across the country and around the globe who want to build their startup in Charm City, they’ll probably be on pins and needles, waiting. AccelerateBaltimore, the startup accelerator program put on by The Emerging Technology Center has extended their program application deadline to December 21st, 2012.

Baltimore is a great city to build a startup in, just ask McKeever Conwell who decided to keep his startup “” (formerly No Bad Gift), in Maryland’s tech city. Conwell, a Morgan State graduate, has been through the AccelerateBaltimore program and he’s been out west. He decided Baltimore’s best for his company.

Baltimore has a thriving tech scene (I may be biased being born and raised there). Video game studios, mobile app companies, mobile ad companies and many more call Baltimore home. In fact, mobile ad company Millennial Media, is a Baltimore startup that recently went public to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. The company has over 38,000 mobile apps on it’s network.

If you want a taste of that pie and you want to learn from some of the greatest mentors around, you still have a couple of weeks to apply. You don’t have to be based in Baltimore, but you do have to be willing to move to Baltimore to participate in the program. It’s worth it.

And speaking of Mentors, the ETC just announced 14 mentors for the next AccelerateBaltimore session including: Chris Brandenburg, Co-founder and CTO of Millennial Media, Greg Cangialosi, CEO of Nucleus Ventures, Ron Schmelzer, CEO of Bizelo and Co-founder of Baltimore Tech Breakfast and Andrew Coy, Co-Executive Director of Digital Harbor Foundation, Ann Quinn of Quinn Strategy Group, Victoria McAndrews of CMD, and Russell Clark Co-Founder of Illuminis.

“AccelerateBaltimore™ is one of the recognized programs that has proven to assist in nurturing startups from idea-stage to viable business,” stated Michael Binko, co-chair of Startup Maryland.  “Formal programs like AccelerateBaltimore™, MindShare, Distilled Intelligence and others in the broader region are a great extension to high-touch entrepreneur events like our own Pitch Across Maryland.  The mentorship, working capital and creative office-space provided by ETC form a great foundation for entrepreneurs who are eager to accept guidance from peer-mentors as well as program facilitators.”

The next AccelerateBaltimore session will begin in February. Six startups will be part of this next cohort and will receive $25,000 in seed funding. They’ll also participate in an intense development program, have free office space, a high level advisory team and more.


Apply to AccelerateBaltimore here

More startup news from “everywhere else”

Hear about McKeever Conwell’s experience in AccelerateBaltimore at the largest startup conference in the U.S.


Maryland Startup CoFounders Lab Is Connecting CoFounders

CoFoundersLab,Maryland startup,dc startup,startup,startups, startupmd,startup interviewWhen Shahab Kaviani sat down and had some time to reflect about his previous startup, HyperOffice he quickly realized that the cofounding team behind that startup drove it’s success. He admits that they bootstrapped almost the entire project. He also says in hindsight their timing was lousy, but the cofounding team kept the startup together.

Finding the right cofounders should actually be at the top of the priority list in any startup. CoFounders lab is one of many startups that look to match people with cofounders. FounderSync is one of those startups that uses an online approach. FounderDating uses a hybrid online offline approach merging an online community with in person events.

CoFounders lab also blends online and offline through in person events. We hope that he’s not too late to this party as well. Of course we all know that when the Dodge brothers went to build cars they weren’t worried that Ford was already doing the exact same thing.

Kaviani was fortunate enough to get selected into the Fort accelerator in Washington DC. After graduating from the program the company moved to Rockville Maryland where they are currently based now. They recently pitched the “Pitch Across Maryland” bus as part of Startup Maryland back in September.

We got a chance to talk with Kaviani. Check out our interview below.

Read More…

200 Startups Participate In Startup Maryland’s Pitch Across Maryland Bus Tour

Late this past summer Startup Maryland co-founders Mike Binko and Julie Lenzer Kirk announced that they would be holding a one of a kind bus tour across the state of Maryland in September. Binko and Lenzer Kirk were able to procure a giant tour bus, get it wrapped and outfitted with a video studio, work space and a place for startups to sit and talk as it caravaned across the state.

The trip began September 11th and ended on September 28th. The bus adventure started on Maryland’s eastern shore and continued all the way to the communities in Western Maryland.

“The Pitch Across Maryland tour, which ran from September 11 – 28, 2012, held celebration and promotional rallies at 25 stops throughout the state of Maryland,”  Lenzer Kirk, Startup Maryland Co-Chair said in a statement. “Culminating in the Last Stop, First Step party and celebration event at Merriweather Post Pavilion on September 28th this Tour has rightly placed the spotlight on the vitality in Maryland’s innovation economy.”

Both Lenzer Kirk and Binko are passionate about the startup community in the state of Maryland as is Howard County Executive and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Ken Ulman, who provided some financial backing for the trip.  When the bus tour was announced Binko was optimistic that 40-50 startups would use the onboard video studio to do pitch as part of a state wide contest. When all was said and done 168 startups actually did pitches. Maryland’s sitting Governor, Martin O’Malley also pitched on the bus. Binko told a group of Startup America regional champions in October that O’Malley had contacted the bus team and asked to come and take a tour. Admission to that tour was a pitch video.

“These videos are a testament to the strength, dedication and diversity of Maryland’s entrepreneurial community,” said Binko in a news release. “When we launched the Pitch Across Maryland tour we thought we might have 40-50 entrepreneurs join us on the Tour Bus and pitch, so 168 is phenomenal. Including all the rallies and events we held more than 200 startups actually participated in the tour.”

In addition to the 168 startups that pitched another 30 or so startups came out to the 25 stops that were on the bus trip. Some even volunteered to help.

All 168 pitches (not including the governors) are posted to YouTube where anyone can vote for their favorite pitch. A prize will be awarded to the entrepreneur with the most “view” votes after the voting closes on December 31st. Startup Maryland will announce 7 finalists next week on November 7th. Those finalists will have a chance to pitch during the entrepreneurial expo November 13th.

Members of the judging panel include serial entrepreneur peers as well as representatives from TEDCO, DBED, universities, incubators/accelerators and economic development agencies (EDAs).


Get warmed up for Tuesday and go vote for your favorite pitch here

Stay in tune with Startup Maryland here

Make sure you click this link and sign up for “” here

Mother & Daughter DC Startup Dormify, Changing Dorm Rooms Everywhere

Dormify, Maryland startup,DC startup,startup,startups,startup interview What can you do with the limited space of a dorm room, or shared living space while you’re in college? Well unless you’re an interior designer for Ikea you may think your options are limited. That’s not the case thanks to the mother and daughter team of Karen Zuckerman (mom) and Amanda Zuckerman (daughter).

The Zuckerman’s have created a new Washington DC startup called Dormify that looks to serve those college age students with ideas, and tools to help transform their living space for their four years of college life. Everything from crafty ideas, to room furnishings, trinkets and even college flair can be found on the Dormify site.

Dormify gives college students everywhere the freedom to stop combing the aisles of Ikea and Target in hopes to find some idea that all the other students aren’t using.

Towels, pillows, home furnishings even stylish school supplies and sweets can be found on the Dormify website.

As you can imagine Dormify came about when Karen was helping Amanda move into her first dorm room at Washington University in St. Louis. Both Zuckerman women have been known for their creativity throughout their lives and the neon colored towels, matching trash cans, rug mats and computer chairs on sale at Target weren’t going to do the trick.

After shopping for Amanda’s dorm room at a variety of boutique shops in downtown St. Louis, a look Amanda could live with was born. The Zuckerman women realized that there is no centralized place to build looks like this, so they did what any entrepreneurs would do and built it themselves.

We got a chance to talk with Dormify’s employee #1, Nicole Gardner, who tells us more about Dormify, below:

Read More…

37 Startups, So Far, Vying To Compete In Invest Maryland Startup Competition

Maryland Startups, InvestMaryland Challenge,startup competition,startup,startups,startup newsLike most state governments Maryland is taking startups seriously. The state’s economic development arm is doing whatever it can to support local startups in the state and attract new startups to come to the state to develop. One of the biggest initiatives to come out of Annapolis is the Invest Maryland Challenge, startup competition.

The challenge opened up to applicants last month and the application process continues through December 13, 2012.

The basic requirements is that your startup has less than 25 employees and less than $1 million dollars in annual revenue. The startups also have to be in the tech or life sciences industry.

Applicants are competing for $300,000 in grant money and business services. Startups must either already be based in Maryland or plan to relocate to Maryland to grow. Also, all startups must be legal entities and in good standing in the states where they are based.

While the Baltimore Sun seems to be concerned with the fine print, it’s pretty standard for economic development contests where grant money and relocation is involved. So far all of the 37 startups that have applied are either based in Maryland or the immediate surrounding areas (Northern Virginia and DC). Take a look at the list of the startups that have applied so far:

1.            Direct Dimensions Inc, Owings Mills, MD

2.            MyoTherapeutics , Silver Spring, MD

3.            Handteq, LLC, Baltimore

4.            Parking Panda , Baltimore, MD

5.            ClickMedix, LLC , Rockville, MD

6.            Tots2Tweens, Frederick, MD

7.            SIALUU, Baltimore MD

8.   , Sykesville, MD

9.            Omic Biosystems, Inc., Rockville, MD

10.          Closing the Gap, Lanham, MD

11.          Brain Biosciences, Inc., Bethesda, MD

12.          StudyHall, Washington DC

13.          Firejack, Inc. , Columbia, MD

14.          WeLearn Educational Software, Baltimore, MD

15.          B’more Organic, Baltimore, MD

16.          Family Business, Rockville, MD

17.          Clear Guide Medical, Baltimore, MD

18.          Shreis Scalene Sciences, Gaithersburg, MD

19.          Stupil, Laytonsville, MD

20.          Rafagen, Inc., Rockville, MD

21.          FiberCell Systems Inc., Frederick, MD

22.          ConverGene, LLC,  Gaithersburg, MD

23.          Printless Plans, Baltimore, MD

24.          Juxtopia, Baltimore, MD

25.          Solar System Express, Baltimore, MD

26.          Internet Security Advisors Group, Severna Park, MD

27.          TDP Biotherapeutics, Inc., Gaithersburg, MD

28.          Green Gap Solutions, Rockville, MD

29.          Athena Energy Corp, Bowie, MD

30.          Subject7, Potomac, MD

31.          Paniagua’s Enterprises Inc. , Baltimore, MD

32.          NuSomnea, LLC, Severna Park, MD

33.          DioGenix , Rockville, MD

34.          zeroK NanoTech, Montgomery Village, MD

35.          Car Fare Compare Inc. , Crownsville, MD

36.          Fiteeza, Fairfax, VA

37.          Differential Dynamics Corporation, Owings Mills, MD

The contest is also open to startups outside of Maryland who are willing to relocate.


Apply here today

Source: Baltimore Sun

Here’s something fun.

Maryland Startup: EasyWebContent Is Startup America’s 10,000th Member

EasyWebContent,Maryland startup,MD startup,Startup America,Scott Case,startup,startupsWe knew that the Startup America partnership was getting really close to it’s 10,000th member. We’ve been tracking that progress since the beginning and when the member counter hit 9700 last week we knew they were close.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or are brand new to “the voice of startups everywhere else”, Startup America is an organization spearheaded by the Case Foundation and blessed with a billion dollars in funding from the federal government under the Obama administration.

Startup America has multiple benefits for entrepreneurs and startups. It’s free to join, and at the last count there were over 93 benefits to members, ranging from a pretty snazzy mileage perk on American Airlines, to substantial savings on Dell computers and a libraries worth of free e-books. All of the “perks” are related to starting a startup or resources a startup would need as they grow.

Startup America is very inline with the mission here at In fact, Scott Case, the CEO of Startup America (and no relation to Steve Case), will be speaking at the upcoming “ The Startup Conference”.

As for their 10,000th member EasyWeb Content, they come from neighboring StartupMD. Founder Payman Taei explained to Startup America in a blog post, that they were running a web design business. What they found was that there were a lot of companies that wanted to get online but didn’t have the budget to do so.

There are a bunch of “DIY” website builders, for instance GoDaddy has a product called “Website Tonight” that allows users to create websites in minutes. But remember, at the core GoDaddy is a domain name registrant, and not a design firm.

With EasyWebContent’s background in design, they’ve built a tool that gives small business owners the ability to build their own, sharply designed websites and content.

Check out the video below with Taei who talks about Maryland and Startup America. Links below:


EasyWebContent is here

Sign up for Startup America here

While you’re at it go here too

Maryland Startup: Beagle Takes Zaarly, On Craigslist And TaskRabbit On Campus


Beagle, a startup born at the University of Maryland, is quietly taking on the likes of Zaarly, Craigslist and TaskRabbit on college campuses. By offering the Beagle service only to college students with .edu email addresses they harness the power of the highly coveted college consumer.

Traditionally college students are often early adopters, and when they like something they share it on social media networks faster than others. It’s also only natural that Julian Capps, Philippe Azimzadeh, Asif Jamil and Adeel Khan the co-founders of Beagle were college students when they launched the service. In addition to the University of Maryland, Beagle is also available on the campuses of MIT, Harvard and Boston University.

With Beagle, students can order up simple, easy to do favors and other students are the ones who perform the errands for a little extra cash. Delivering a Starbucks, lending class notes, hitching a ride to the airport or home, running to get printer ink and many more little tasks that college students need to get done can happen using Beagle.

Capps says that Beagle being only available to college students makes it a bit safer than other services. Knowing that both users in a transaction need to be actual students means at least they were vetted in the college application process. Beagle also protects both users and forces feedback by holding onto the funds until both users have left feedback, an indicator that the errand has been done. Users can use cash if they prefer.

Beagle says that ease of use is what sets Beagle apart from the likes of other similar services. “There’s a quick, easy feel of the process,” Capps told our friends at Bostinnodescribing what sets Beagle apart from other companies like TaskRabbit, Zaarly, Peddl or Craigslist. “Quick and easy tasks is what it’s optimized for.”


Check out Beagle here

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Denver Startup Plink Raises $3M Series A From Grotech Ventures

Denver loyalty and rewards startup Plink has been on a roll lately. Back in June we brought you this story about how they partnered with TangoCard to bring their rewards beyond Facebook credits and that strategy has seemed to pay off.

Today they’ve announced that they’ve closed a $3 million dollar series A round entirely from mid-atlantic (VA & MD) based Grotech Ventures.

Plink began as a company that would take offline businesses and incentivize their customer base with something simple, and easy that millions would benefit from, Facebook credits. While only offering Facebook credits they rapidly ramped up their brick and mortar customer base, until the recent transition to rewards from TangoCard partners. The company has reported that they will use the new funding to continue accelerating development of their offline program. Of course they will also ramp up member acquisition and their marketing efforts.

“Connecting online-to-offline is a challenge for marketers,” said Plink Co-founder and CEO Peter Vogel. “Plink bridges that gap and Grotech Ventures’ investment brings nearly 20 years of successful experience, an enormous amount of industry know-how, insight, and strategic guidance to propel Plink to the next level.”

“For consumers, Plink is a no-brainer,” said Joe Zell, general partner of Grotech Ventures. “Why wouldn’t someone join and get rewards for going out to their favorite places? There’s no extra card to carry or steps a consumer has to take. In addition, Plink has already proven that huge national restaurant brands love the model and they’re already seeing significant increases in consumer purchases.”

Some of the largest fast food establishments are already on board with Plink including Arby’s, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King.

Large chains have embraced Plink because it doesn’t require any changes to their existing point-of-sale infrastructure, does not require staff training, Plink does all the marketing and the restaurants only pay a percentage of the sales that Plink drives. Initial results have shown that Plink members are spending 65 percent more per month at partner restaurants than they were prior to joining Plink. It’s a risk-free, 100 percent turn-key model for national chains and Plink will soon be adding large retail and travel partners.

Plink has raised $4 million to date.


Check out Plink here

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