These 7 founders pitched at UB's Rise to the Challenge biz competition - Baltimore


May 3, 2019 4:32 pm

These 7 founders pitched at UB’s Rise to the Challenge biz competition

In all, $23,000 in prizes was awarded on May 1.

Kareema McLendon pitches at UB's Rise to the Challenge 2019.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

With products from fishing gloves to bridal gowns, University of Baltimore undergraduates pitched a packed auditorium on Wednesday night.

UB’s Rise to the Challenge pitch competition brought together seven entrepreneurs looking to start and grow businesses. It’s part of the efforts of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to help students starting new ventures.

The center supports a diverse mix of businesses, and center Director Henry Mortimer said the focus is on growing enterprises and economic development in Baltimore.

Following pitches, a total of four prizes were awarded a share of $23,000 in prize money.

Stoned Audio won the top-dollar prize on the night, as Stuart Tweedie’s company was chosen as the most promising business overall. He received $15,000 after pitching the company’s wireless earphones under the tagline “Get Stoned.”

Winning $2,000 in the existing businesses category, Kareema McLendon won $5,000. Her eponymous fashion startup focuses on designing, manufacturing and selling bridal gowns designed for women aged 30 to 55. McLendon talked about how she’s refined the process of manufacturing, and wants to create jobs in the city.

In the aspiring business category, Melvin Clark, III landed $2,000 for AMJ Fishing Gloves. He’s making gloves that don’t have to be taken off when fishers complete tasks like bait a hook, handling the fish and casting.

Winning the crowd favorite was Kevin McHugh, who pitched Bloom Box. The subscription box company offers the tools and supplies for growing plants and produce. It’s specifically catering to urban settings, including people living in elder care facilities.

The finalists for this year’s competition also included:

  • Lightning Cycles — Casey Loeffler pitched the full- and self-serve motorcycle service provider, which offers oil change and maintenance.
  • Premium RV Repair and Maintenance — Nicole Street presented the veteran-owned business offering mobile and custom repair for RVs.
  • Licata Boutique Salon — Tracy Shand founded the mobile beautification service designed for career career men and women, stay-at-home moms and dads, teenagers, children and the elderly.


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