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From Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, an elite group of small businesses are setting new standards for excellence in their fields. Among them are 14 Maryland business leaders, winners of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2014 Maryland Small Business Week Awards Program.

The SBA’s Baltimore District Office recently announced the following winners:

Category Business leader Location
Accountant Advocate of the Year Donald Cunningham, Donald Cunningham, CPA LLC Millersville
Attorney Advocate of the Year Chad Malkus, Esq., Michael Hodes, LLC Cambridge
District Director’s Unsung Hero Award Rich Loeffler, Maryland Small Business & Technology Development Center Wye Mills
Entrepreneurial Success of the Year Danny Farrar & David Posin, Soldierfit Frederick
Family Owned Small Business of the Year Kim Lawson, Fishpaws Marketplace Arnold
Financial Services Champion of the Year Steve Primosch, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. Annapolis
Home-Based Business Champion of the Year Barbara Zimmer, B. Zimmer & Co. Pasadena
Insurance Advocate Nancy Ann Nicklow, Huff Insurance Pasadena
Maryland Small Business Person of the Year Stephanie Novak Hau, Chesapeake Environmental Management Bel Air
Minority Small Business Champion of the Year Charles Ramos, CR Dynamics Baltimore
Small Business Exporter of the Year John Doran, Centreville Trailers Centreville
Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year Joe Giordano, Project Opportunity Salisbury
Women in Business Champion of the Year Shabri Moore, Moore Wealth, Inc. Frederick
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Matt Wyble, Champion Realty Severna Park

The honorees will be recognized at the 30th Annual Maryland Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 15 in Woodlawn, Maryland. Find additional details and ticket information on the SBA’s website.

Learn more about how the State of Maryland works with the SBA to support entrepreneurs through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Venture capital provides essential funding to sustain young, high-growth companies. Recently released data shows it is on the rise in Maryland, according to a MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data from Thomson Reuters.

Total annual venture capital funding in Maryland increased by about 63 percent, from $407,752,600 in 2012 to $663,413,200 in 2013. The number of total deals rose by roughly 25 percent, from 57 deals in 2012 to 71 deals in 2013.

Maryland far outpaced the national average increase year over year, the MoneyTree Report shows.

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $29.4 billion in 3,995 deals in 2013, an increase of 7 percent in dollars and a 4 percent increase in deals over the prior year, according to a statement on the report.

As in 2012, the software industry remained the single largest investment sector in 2013, followed by biotechnology. Internet-specific companies also reached their highest investment levels since 2001. Networking and equipment, financial services, and business products and services also saw significant year-over-year gains, the statement showed.

Information on the industry sectors receiving venture capital funding in Maryland was not released in the report.

Find quarterly data for Maryland below:

Venture Capital Funding in Maryland 2012-2013
 
Year Quarter Funding Deals Annual Total Funding
2012 Q1 $119,745,400 16 $407,752,600
Q2 $50,448,400 9
Q3 $161,558,900 22
Q4 $75,999,900 10
2013 Q1 $148,278,200 13 $663,413,200
Q2 $320,180,000 13
Q3 $140,490,000 26
Q4 $54,465,000 19

Source: MoneyTree Report Regional Aggregate Data

You have big plans for your startup—you’re looking to succeed well beyond your own neighborhood, city and even country.

For businesses with plans to expand internationally, TowsonGlobal Business Incubator is now offering the chance to win a 90-day incubator membership and cash. The incubator’s annual 2014 Business Plan Competition is accepting executive summary submissions until Feb. 10, 2014.

Five finalists will be selected and notified on Feb. 21. They will then attend a presentation boot camp on March 3. Finalists will present in front of judges and attend a networking reception on May 1 at Towson University.

Further details on the contest are available online. Applicants are limited to those living in the mid-Atlantic region and surrounding states, including Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, New York and New Jersey.

TowsonGlobal, located in Baltimore County, is part of Towson University’s Division of Innovation & Applied Research (DIAR) and has built a reputation for “helping early-stage businesses bridge global markets,” according to the incubator’s website.  

InvestMaryland Challenge

InvestMaryland Challenge draws more than $600,000 in prizes

As the deadline draws near for applications for the second annual InvestMaryland Challenge, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced that the national business competition has already secured more than $600,000 in awards for its winners. Companies will compete in four categories to win top prizes of $100,000 each as well as smaller prizes that include grants, incubator space, and business and legal services.  For an application, or more information, click here.

Applicants receive benefits of Cofounders PRO membership

Did you know your founding team is one of the most important factors investors consider when evaluating new ventures? Tap into the largest community of entrepreneurs online who are looking to launch and join new companies at CoFoundersLab.com. As extra incentive to apply allInvestMaryland Challenge will receive a 30% discount on Cofounders PRO.

Meet the judges behind the InvestMaryland Challenge

This year’s judges lineup includes industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields from VC & investment firms, incubators, academia, federal labs and serial entrepreneurs. For a listing of competition judges click here.

December 6th application deadline

Time is running out to submit your application for the InvestMaryland Challenge. Applications include a business profile, quad chart, executive summary and full business plan. Ready, set, APPLY! InvestMarylandChallenge.org

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

A growing number of firms in the medical device industry call Maryland home. But this week, a select group has ventured across the globe to participate in MEDICA, the world’s leading trade fair for medicine and medical technology.

Between Nov. 20 and Nov. 23, international medical market leaders, including 4,641 exhibitors from 66 countries, are descending on Dusseldorf, Germany for a range of MEDICA events. The BioMaryland Center, through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, is a state exhibitor, promoting Maryland’s medical-friendly business environment and also sponsoring attendance from participating companies.

“It really is a global event. We’re going to have probably over 150,000 visitors to our state booth,” said Carey Esslinger, regional manager over Europe, Russia, FSU, Latin America and the Balkans for Maryland DBED.

Maryland companies in attendance include Harmans-based AIV Inc.; Hanover-based BTE Technologies; Ijamsville-based BioAssay Works, LLC; Frederick-based BioElectronics Corporation; Annapolis-based Compass Languages; Westminster-based ImmunO4; Bethesda-based Dimetek Digital Medical Technologies Ltd.; Landover-based Man & Machine, Inc.; Germantown-based Medispec Ltd.; Rockville-based Tetracore, Inc.; and Pasadena-based Moss Inc.

Roughly half of the companies are showing in the Maryland booth, while others have “graduated” to become individual exhibitors, Esslinger said.

In recent years, Maryland’s participation in the show has planted the seeds for exporting agreements and foreign investment deals.

“It’s a perfect platform for Maryland companies looking to expand their sales internationally,” Esslinger said. “We have a number of Maryland companies attending the show this year, including manufacturers such as Man & Machine, who design water-proof keyboards used in hospitals, and Tetracore, which has developed a field testing kit for biological agents.”

The state, now considered a regular on the show floor, has developed a global reputation.

“Maryland’s strengths—such as proximity to federal facilities like the FDA, state of the art medical institutions like Johns Hopkins University and a highly educated workforce—are recognized and respected internationally,” he said.

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

Credit MEDICA 2013

The next time you’re filtering through airport security, consider that the equipment scanning you and your luggage was likely produced right here in Maryland.

Smiths Detection, with its U.S. headquarters in Edgewood, is the world’s leading supplier of an array of tools used to detect weapons, explosives and chemical threats.

“Talk to any of our employees, we take great pride in keeping people safe,” said Mike Castek, site head of the Edgewood plant. Smiths Detection employs roughly 230 Marylanders, about 10 percent of the global division’s workforce, operating within United Kingdom-based Smiths Group.

While the majority of Americans will interact with a Smiths Detection scanner or x-ray machine at an airport, products also cater to elite security groups like the United Nations’ Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Weapons inspectors used Smith Detection products during their most recent investigation of chemical warfare in Syria. The group’s mission helped secure them the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

The focus on chemical weapons detection is part of the rationale behind its Edgewood location. Aberdeen Proving Ground, just a stone’s throw from the plant, houses the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, which uses several Smiths Detection products. Military and first responders to chemical threats have utilized the company’s unique Chemical Biological Protective Shelters.

“It’s crucial to be close to our customers and to be able to get the products to the right place as quickly as possible,” said Brian Boso, chief scientist at the plant.

Leadership at the Maryland location also take advantage of their proximity to Washington, D.C.

“We talk to the CIA, TSA, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals and the Department of Defense on a constant basis, trying to work with them to figure out what the future threats are and to develop new techniques,” Boso said.

“Unfortunate events” have contributed to Smiths Detection’s rapid growth in recent years, company leadership said.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, threat detection equipment represented a very small portion of Smiths Group’s global operation. Through acquisition of another company, it then produced 100-150 desktop explosive detectors per year. Three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, however, the Transportation Security Administration placed an order for 6,000 desktop explosive detectors to be issued at airports across the nation.

“It’s a very event-driven industry. As the terrorists change their mode of operation, we have to adapt,” Boso said.

Increased demand for security equipment caused Smiths Group to name Smiths Detection a separate division in 2003. In recent years, the Edgewood plant’s footprint and workforce has doubled.

Smiths Detection was at the forefront of developing on-site detection tools for “white powder incidents,” often suspected of involving anthrax, he said. More recently, the company has developed a scanner for liquid, which will enable TSA to restrict only threatening liquids carried on by passengers, clearing harmless ones.

The Edgewood plant’s workforce reflects the changing face of new-age manufacturing, where the laboratory is as important as the factory floor.

A large number of employees are electronic test technicians, who typically have a two-year associates degree with an electrical engineering focus. Members of the research and development staff tend to have advanced degrees.

“It can be a challenge sometimes to find highly technical scientists, but we’ve been able to take advantage of Maryland’s educated workforce and also attract people here,” Castek said.

As opposed to historic perceptions of a dangerous factory, Smiths Detection’s next-generation manufacturing methods focus on protecting the employee.

“The workplace is designed around the people as much as it’s designed around the equipment, which was not the case years ago,” Boso said.  “We pride ourselves that our products help keep people safe, so we certainly don’t want anyone getting hurt building our products.”

Smiths Detection is poised for growth in Maryland. Already, its technology is used at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, BWI Fire & Rescue Department and fire departments in Harford County, Cecil County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City. Multiple courthouses and federal buildings in Maryland also use Smiths Detection weapons scanners.

Boso said the company is well integrated with governmental and public safety institutions across the country, but there are new opportunities emerging in commercial and critical infrastructure markets.

Corporate headquarters, schools, mass transit stations and prisons are becoming customers for threat detection equipment, including x-ray machines, metal detectors, scanners used to secure checkpoints.

“We see a fair amount of expansion in those areas, for sure. Smiths is optimistic about the future market,” Boso said.

 

November 14, 2013 (Baltimore, MD) – Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that EnerTech Capital Partners and Foundation Medical Partners (FMP) have been selected to receive funds through the State’s $84 million InvestMaryland program. The venture capital firms will invest $10 and $7 million each in young, innovative Maryland companies. As part of the agreement, the firms will return to the State’s general fund 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the proceeds from successful investments. Created by Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is a historic initiative to fuel Maryland’s Innovation Economy, support entrepreneurs and stimulate job creation.

“Maryland is committed to investing in the entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses that will soon become the leaders of our growing Innovation Economy and we are excited to have EnerTech and FMP join us in that effort,” Governor O’Malley said. “InvestMaryland leverages the capital and expertise of the private sector to support young Maryland businesses as they grow and create family-sustaining jobs for the people of our State.”

“Venture capital and knowledgeable investors can mean the difference between success and failure for young companies, even those built around promising ideas and innovative technologies,” Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick E. Murray said. “InvestMaryland is just one more advantage Maryland has in the life sciences, social media, cybersecurity, big data, green energy and other high-tech fields. We look forward to working with EnerTech and FMP as they make their investments.”

“EnerTech has been investing in Maryland since shortly after our founding in 1996. We are delighted to be selected by the InvestMaryland team and welcome their participation in our final close of EnerTech Capital Partners IV,” said Tucker Twitmyer, Managing Director of EnerTech. “The State has an impressive track record in our sector and we look forward to helping Maryland’s workforce create the next generation of real energy solutions — for Maryland and for the world.”

EnerTech invests in early to growth-stage companies that offer products or services that make energy production and consumption more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective. The firm has managed about $500 million since its founding in 1996. Its current fund, in which InvestMaryland is a participant, is approximately $120 million. EnerTech’s portfolio ranges from Tangent Energy Solutions, a company that makes industrial sites more energy efficient, to n-Dimension Solutions, a cybersecurity firm focused on critical infrastructure.

FMP invests in the healthcare technology sector, focusing on transformational technologies and services that enable value-based healthcare and leverage wireless, data and analytics technologies. Its portfolio includes a diverse set of companies specializing in healthcare informatics, medical device development and innovative diagnostic technologies. FMP is still in its fundraising phase and could not comment on its new fund.

InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment in history by the State. Last year, $84 million was raised for the program through an online auction of tax credits. Of that funding, two-thirds will be managed by private venture firms like EnerTech and FMP. So far, $48 million has been committed to seven firms. The remaining third is being invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).

The MVF was seeded with $25 million and over its 17-year existence invested in hundreds of start-up and early stage technology and life sciences companies, generating a $67 million return, 2000 jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment. Returns from MVF investments are reinvested in the program.

The second annual InvestMaryland Challenge is in full swing. If your business is in need of a jump start, check out this site for more information about the national business competition. The Challenge offers applicants free admission to networking events, social media promotion, scoring and feedback from judges, exposure to venture capital firms and angel investors and the chance to compete for more than $600,000 in prizes. Winners of the Life Sciences, IT, Cybersecurity and General Industry categories will each win $100,000 awards. Others will take home smaller grants, incubator space, consulting services and other cash and in-kind prizes. Applications are due by Dec. 6.

Judges include a distinguished lineup of industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields. Meet a selection of judges below.

Meet The Judges:

IT-robDoub

ROBB DOUB

Robb Doub joined New Markets Venture Partners in 2003. Robb is the lead administrative partner and serves as a board director for eCoast Sales Solutions and Appfluent Technology, and is lead partner or board observer for K2 Global, Kroll Bond Ratings, Navtrak, Three Stage Media, CSA Medical and TidalTV. He also serves on the board of Egeen International and the Conflicts Advisory Board of the off-shore hedge funds.

IT-daphneDufresneDAPHNE DUFRESNE

Daphne Dufresne joined RLJ Equity Partners from Parish Capital Advisors, where she was a Venture Partner managing the direct investment and co-investment program. Formerly, Ms. Dufresne was a Principal at Weston Presidio Capital with $3.4 billion of assets under management. She also served as Associate Director in the Bank of Scotland’s Structured Finance Group. Ms. Dufresne received her B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

LS_Christy_W_WyskielCHRISTY WILLIAMS WYSKIEL

Christy Williams Wyskiel is an entrepreneur and investor with 20 years of experience focused on the life sciences and healthcare industries. Previously, Christy was Managing Director at Maverick Capital, an equity hedge fund with $12 billion under management. She co-founded GrayBug, an ophthalmic drug-delivery company. In 2012, Christy joined the Johns Hopkins Alliance, a board charged with evaluating the commercial viability of research projects at JHU.

CS_Frederick_FerrerFREDERICK J. FERRER

Frederick J. Ferrer has over three decades of experience in the National Security, Intelligence Community (IC), Homeland Defense and Cyber. Mr. Ferrer holds a Master’s of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and serves in a number of leadership capacities, including the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence; National STEM Consortium Advisory Committee; and Chesapeake Regional Tech Council.

GEN_Deb_TillettDEBORAH TILLETT

As the Executive Director and President of the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, Ms. Tillett is responsible for management of budgetary, administrative, programmatic functions and strategic planning. Prior to joining ETC, Ms. Tillett served as president and co-founder of Immersive 3D, LLC, a technology start-up providing web-based 3D computer gaming solutions for K-20 education and offering contract-based technology services.

See the full list of judges and submit your application on InvestMarylandChallenge.org.

Dozens of entrepreneurs—ranging from seasoned business leaders to first-time startup launchers—sat down to breakfast together this week in Baltimore. 

The Maryland Entrepreneur Breakfast, sponsored by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, honored Maryland’s Inc. 500 I 5000 fastest-growing private companies and showcased representatives of the state’s vibrant and diverse entrepreneurial community.

In total, 19 Maryland companies made the top 500 of Inc. magazine’s 2013 list, several of which were recognized during the event.

Ellicott City-based GiftCardRescue.Com ranked 151st on the list with 2,518 percent growth and $6.6 million revenue in 2012. CEO Kwame Kuadey praised Maryland’s investment in early stage companies.

“The first five years, as we know, are critical, and for me, even at this stage, having gone on five years, you still have different challenges at the level you get to, especially if you’re growing, and to have resources and incubators in the area that can help startups that are promising, I think is critical,” Kuadey said.

Jessup-based TheraPearl, which ranked 210th on the list, experienced 2,017 percent growth and $5 million revenue in 2012. CEO Daniel Baumwald spoke about the role of state agencies in the company’s expansion effort.

“DBED has been fantastic for us with our global launch. I’m in talks with a lot of the folks down there about all of our globalization, and how we can take [TheraPearl] to Europe, to Asia, Australia, etc.,” Baumwald said.

Maryland DBED Secretary Dominick Murray emphasized that attendees were the evidence behind the state’s No. 1 ranking for entrepreneurship and innovation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“At DBED and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and the GBC and the Greater Washington Board of Trade—all of us are able to talk about our No. 1 status in this realm, and that’s because of what you guys do,” Murray said.

Find video highlights from speakers in the above video.

Maryland government agencies have a history of funding worker training projects, but never before has training been made so widely available across an entire industry.

Under the direction of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) Maryland Workforce Training Initiative is now offering an unprecedented opportunity for business leaders to form partnerships and offer the type of training needed to significantly increase worker productivity.

The first step is filling out an EARN Maryland Planning Grant application, which first became available on Oct. 15 and must be submitted by Nov. 12, 2013. Lead applicants will apply for $25,000 to fund the creation of a Strategic Industry Partnership Workforce Training Plan. There is no limit to the number of these grants the state will issue.

Between November 2013 and April 2014, the funding will assist the lead applicant in forming a partnership with fellow key players in their industry. Many will take advantage of professional membership organizations that already join business leaders together according to their shared interests. Through conferences, meetings and training sessions, they will determine the type of training needed most among workers in their industry and submit their requests for training programs.

By May 2014, DLLR will award implementation grants for approved Strategic Industry Partnership Workforce Training Plans.

The lead applicant for the initial $25,000 planning grant can fall into any of the following categories:

• Employer
• Nonprofit organization
• Two- and four-year institution of higher education
• Local Workforce Board
• Industry association
• Labor union
• Local government
• Local or regional economic development entity

While the initiative is the first of its kind in Maryland, similar programs have succeeded in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and have already assisted workers in industries including aerospace, healthcare and clean energy. More information on their best practices is available through DLLR.

Those seeking more information should consider watching webinars on the program through DLLR’s website or attending a statewide Pre-Proposal Conference at 1 p.m. on October 18 at the Anne Arundel Community College, Robert E. Kauffman Theater, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD 21012.

Keep up with the latest Maryland business news.

Are you a 20-steps-or-less Rubik’s Cube master, or do you enjoy the more time consuming guess-and-check method? While puzzles make for popular toys, they also reflect the way we confront everyday societal needs like energy security.

The Maryland Clean Energy Center will present the Maryland Clean Energy Summit, held Oct. 15-16 at the Marriott Inn & Conference Center in Hyattsville. The summit is themed, ”Solving the Distributed Energy Puzzle: Microgrids & Other Smart Solutions,” with an emphasis on energy security.

Expert presenters will discuss clean renewable power, transmission, distribution and resiliency. “With the application of communications technology to manage this critical infrastructure for cost savings, reliability, security, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the ‘democratization of the grid’ is becoming a reality,” according to the event website.

Online registration continues until Oct. 15, with entry cost for selected events starting at $150.