“Maryland Launches Startup Helper” Tech Bisnow

April 2, 2012 Written by  Comments Print

Is it just us or are DC area startups exploding? They descended on UMd-College Park last Friday for the launch of Startup Maryland.

Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship director and Startup Maryland co-chair Julie Kirk, Amplifier Ventures founder and Startup Virginia co-chair Jonathan Aberman, and Kloudtrack president and Startup Maryland co-chair Michael Binko helped get the regional arm of the Startup America Partnership kicked off. Despite some deep-seeded regional competition, the DC area Startup America regional arms are vowing to work together. (Startup DC’s Evan Burfield was also on hand.) Julie and Michael are traveling the state drumming up support from startups with a Maryland pride football and roller derby helmet under their arms.

GeniusRocket co-founder Mark Walsh is also guiding the Maryland effort. After an appearance by the Maryland Terp and Baltimore’s roller derby team, Mark released Startup Maryland’s four initiatives: access to capital, celebration/awareness, resource mapping, and revenue opportunities/corporate connections. The idea is to focus on startups, ramp-ups, and speedups through the four themes.

greeNEWit founder Jason Jannati, MySoulRadio founder Phinesse Demps, Tevolution founder Ian Simpson, and Amethyst Technologies founder Kim Brown put Mark’s four pillars into perspective by relating them to their companies. Phinesse says one of the hardest things about being a minority-led firm is raising capital. So far the company has been bootstrapped, but execs will be hitting the road soon for more funds. Ian says he focuses on getting his product in people’s hands (and hopefully on their taste buds) through social media and events. Kim got around not having a marketing budget by launching a non profit that got the word out about the company and opened client doors.

Former Terp and UnderArmour founder Kevin Plank delivered his always entertaining stories and life lessons. Questions were posed by Startup America CEO and Priceline co-founder Scott Case. Here’s one that had the crowd hanging on every word: When he was just getting UnderArmour off the ground, he consulted with a friend’s father, whom he admired. With a Burl Ives kind of personality and trustworthy wiry glasses, the friend’s father told him to sell the business because he’d never be able to survive the competition. Kevin says his own naiveness made him continue. Today the company has over 5K employees and nearly $1.5B in revenue last year. Kevin’s advice: “Don’t seek out opinion, get perspective.”

Moments after Kevin’s inspiring speech, we spotted Startup America startup regions managing director Donna Harris and Lore Systems CEO Tien Wong. Tien’s Silver Spring, Md.-based company, launched in 1995, specializes in tech services like data center hosting and cloud computing. We also hear that he started The Tien Wong Times to aggregate interesting news stories. We expect to see lots of Tech Bisnow stories in the mix.

Startup Maryland’s launch was just a few feet away from the buzz going on at Kevin’s 7th annual Cupid Cup, a business competition for student and alumni entrepreneurs. Five finalists will pitch their businesses to veteran entrepreneurs for a $25K prize. We spotted this crowd around The Fort’s table made up of Klaggle founder and Fort participant Stephen Candelino, SpeakerBox EVP Lisa Throckmorton, RepayVets founder Marlon Terrell, The Fort’s Carla Valdes, and Jonathon Perelli.

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