At Salisbury University’s recently concluded Shore Hatchery event, fifteen contestants came full of expectations, ready to pitch their businesses.
Some got funded, others would have to try another time, yet a common refrain by all contestants was the opportunity to connect with mentors and previous winners — all of whom are trying to breathe life into a nascent Delmarva innovation scene.
It was the third round of the Shore Hatchery; an event made possible through a five-year, $1 million gift from the Ratcliffe Foundation. Though intended to create new jobs within the Mid-Atlantic region (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia), this round of the Hatchery had an entrepreneur from as far away as Florida.
The diversity of participating startups formed an interesting collage.
There was a cake service, a marina consulting service, permeable paving technology, a nonprofit. Some would rather be entrepreneurs immediately out of college, while the majority were transitioning after several years of varied work experience.
On this occasion, Salisbury’s Perdue School of Business had the frenetic energy of a startup hub. It was a good development for the Eastern Shore community.
For Bill Burke, the professor in charge of entrepreneurship competitions at Salisbury, the Shore Hatchery is an answer to this question: How can we help entrepreneurs?
Given the time spared by accomplished entrepreneurs who were there to serve as judges and mentors, the Shore Hatchery seems to be fulfilling its objective.
A past winner of the Shore Hatchery, Navid Mazloom of College Scooter, said the insights and advice from the mentors gave his business idea traction.
He had two attempts at the competition, winning grant funding in his second showing. Today, Mazloom’s startup is exceeding its growth projections. Mazloom said he believes the connections he made at Shore Hatchery were more valuable than the funds. He was there to pay it forward.
Jonathan Picard has been tenacious about his chances at the Shore Hatchery. It was his third attempt to pitch his digital media advertising startup. Though he lost out on landing a grant, he credits advice from the mentors with keeping him going. When you start a company for the first time you’re in the dark, he said, but with mentors you can pull through.
At the conclusion of this round of the Shore Hatchery, four finalists were announced after the closed-door “Gull Cage” presentations.
The finalists — Enterprise 101, Tango, Shore Inspection and Oasis Marinas — immediately took the stage, each making ten-minute presentations. The entrepreneurs answered questions from a panel of judges, receiving personal feedback after each presentation.
Here’s who won:
- Shore Inspections, a lead paint inspection services startup, won $15,000.
- Oasis Marinas, a management services consultancy for marinas, won $30,000.
- Tango, a universal tablet stand, won $30,000.
The three winners were each assigned a mentor from the Shore Hatchery’s 25-member board of directors.
It all happens again May 7, 2015. Interested entrepreneurs should get in touch.