What does it look like when startup networks come together? An event in Columbia offered the answer.
Last week, the newly-combined Startup Grind Maryland chapter, encompassing communtities from Baltimore, Columbia and Frederick, was on display at the inaugural Startup Grind Maryland showcase and party. The event, which took place at the newly-opened Maryland Innovation Center, featured 12 ventures and included detailed conversations with Cide Kic, TotalCare, and PetConnect Business.
The event kicked off with brief remarks from Chris Haug, Director of Startup Grind Columbia, where he re-introduced Startup Grind, ran through the core values of the group and announced that TEDCO, Maryland’s early-stage technology support agency, had recently become a signature sponsor for Startup Grind Maryland.
Tim Wilson, manager of TEDCO’s Seed Fund and Digital Marketing Coordinator Hao Nguyen, spoke briefly about the partnership and what this would mean for the entire state’s entrepreneurial landscape. They alsos shared other resources available to startups at the event.
Prior to catching up with the three companies who pitched at previous Startup Grind events, Haug also introduced Chuck Bubeck, executive director of the Maryland Innovation Center, the host venue.
“This building is a culmination of the past 21 years that Howard county has invested in the incubation community,” said Chuck. “ Our mission perfectly aligns with that of Startup Grind and we hope this space can house great ideas and cultivate innovation across the state.”
With formal announcements out of the way, the three main presenters of the event took center stage to answer the following questions:
- Where did the idea for their venture come from?
- What problem are you solving?
- What do you need?
- How can we help?
CEO and cofounder Hector Ocasio talked through his venture, which is a digital management provider that provides pet-related businesses (i.e., groomers, veterinarians and trainers) with branded websites and mobile apps without any coding.
Ocasio and PCB’s journey began several years ago while traveling with his spouse and dog, Mason. While outside rural Ohio, Mason collapsed after a brief bout of vomiting blood. Realizing the local veterinary clinics didn’t have any virtual presence, Ocasio was left with having to rely on a friend to help guide them to a hospital to ultimately save Mason’s life.
“It’s that experience that truly opened my eyes to how important service providers are in our pet’s lives and how critical it is for them to have an online presence,” said Ocasio. After that experience, Ocasio was surprised that less than 50% of pet service providers today have a digital presence and less than 1% has a mobile app component.
Ocasio went on to speak through the pivots of the business over the past two years, including its original focus on being a marketplace for digital listing enhancements.
“We’re really solving an OpenTable problem, so we had to make sure service providers were comfortable with using Pet Connect Business without fear of losing their business to competitors,” he said.
Chef, cofounder and CEO James Hudock and cofounder Jorge Fajardo introduced Cide Kic, a digital platform for food and beverage businesses to streamline workflows for collaboration.
“The average lifespan of a chef is 50 years old,” Hudock said. “Chefs don’t often make it to a retirement party, leaving the business for health reasons or other challenges. This lifestyle was driving me into an early grave and I knew there had to be a better way.”
Cide Kic was created with the notion of easing the burden placed on chefs and modernizing back-of-house operations, in order to turn the kitchen into a collaborative, supportive and ultimately less stressful environment. The platform itself allows chefs to plan menus, share recipes, and keep track of inventory and staff availability.
As a company, buoyed by a recent pre-seed investment by TEDCO, Cide Kic is continuing to grow through introductions to potential funders, partners and clients.
The team also brought some of the most delicious gelato Startup Grind has ever tasted.
The final presentation of the evening came from Ashok Kapur, president and CEO of Hawkeye MedTech, creator of the TotalCare tele-health platform. It allows clients to connect directly with healthcare professionals and providers, as well as their family members. Clients can also share medical records to immediately give access to one’s entire medical history to coordinate medication and treatment across different disciplines.
“Providers have never been able to review graphical data related to blood pressure, blood sugar, or any other vitals,” said Kapur. “Doctors, for the first time can see this information and ask pointedly about previous issues, or spikes that occurred in-between sessions/visits.”
Since 2013, TotalCare has been under development, focusing specifically around providing access to individuals seeking medical care and treatment in rural areas. Due to the pandemic, with telehealth becoming more prevalent within our shared lexicon, TotalCare is primed to make a huge push into the market through a dual-audience approach: Physicians need to be on the platform to connect with their clients and patients, while patients need to use the platform in order to provide the data necessary for their care providers to connect effectively.
Another challenge TotalCare is facing is competition.
“Not only do you need to maintain market share but you have to continually innovate. If we’re not doing that, and staying stagnant, we’re dead,” Kapur said. “We need to change the minds of so many audiences, get them used to this technology, but still have to be user-friendly and accessible.”
Along with the three startups previously mentioned, the other nine companies that had booths and spoke with the potential investors and partners at the event were:
- NeuroSonics Medical allows enhanced flexibility for more customized and personalized neurosurgical treatments.
- Tetragram provides thorough cataloging and research on the most effective strains of cannabis, for you.
- Omnisensing Photonics develops innovative, customer-focused photonics sensing solutions and products for various scientific and industrial applications.
- Bleed Freeze assists people in confidently taking control in the treatment of nosebleeds anywhere.
- Kyndoo offers a robust, transparent relationship for influencers and groups seeking to hire influencers.
- Prothymos Technologies specializes in manufacturing and distribution of immersive movie and video gaming technologies.
- Mindgrub Ventures helps technology-driven startups grow through partnerships and product design expertise.
- CarrTech LLC simplifies the process of injecting medication, thereby reducing the number of needle stick injuries worldwide.
- JMakes3D supports entrepreneurs and inventors from invention to functional prototypes.
Interested in tapping into the entrepreneurial potential of Startup Grind or want to connect with any of the presenting companies, let Sean know!
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