The Pitch Across Maryland bus is coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion.
From Sept. 11 through Sept. 28, the bus, part of the Startup Maryland initiative that launched at the end of March, will travel to accelerators and universities throughout Maryland—including a stop at new Federal Hill coworking space Betamore on Sept. 21, as a happy addition to the first ever Baltimore Innovation Week—before rounding out its tour with an afternoon stop at the popular music venue in Howard County for startup founders to meet-and-greet seasoned entrepreneurs from the area.
Pitch Across Maryland will make its first Baltimore-area stop on the afternoon of Sept. 20 at the UMBC campus.
“Entrepreneurship [in Maryland] is not consistently celebrated as it is in Silicon Valley,” says Julie Lenzer Kirk, executive director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.
Kirk is one of the co-organizers of Startup Maryland, part of the Startup Regions effort announced by the Startup America Partnership in fall 2011. Startup America is “the national organization dedicated to helping startups grow in order to jumpstart job creation in the country,” and boasts Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Baltimore-based company Under Armour, as one of its founding board members.
“[Startup Maryland] is by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs,” says Mike Binko, another co-organizer and the president and CEO of kloudtrack in Annapolis.
The pitch bus itself is set up as a mobile video studio, says Binko. As it travels around the state, entrepreneurs will be invited on board to deliver three- to five-minute pitches. All the pitches will be recorded and given to the entrepreneurs at no cost. The video pitches will also be entered into an online voting competition, live for a period of nearly two months and open to anyone in the state.
“The top 16, based on votes and judges’ scores, will move on to the next round. Those lucky 16 will get a month of coaching before they deliver their pitch again live in front of judges and compete for the prize money,” according to MDBizNews.
“Once the voting is done in late October, we’ll announce the top vote-getters at an entrepreneur expo,” Binko says.
In preparation for the Pitch Across Maryland tour, Starup Maryland held a series of townhall-style meetings with entrepreneurs from Baltimore city, Columbia, and the Eastern Shore in the spring. Kirk and Binko say startup founders in state are concerned with mainly with four things: access to financial capital and mentorship, access to both government and commercial customers, resource mapping—like the Map of Baltimore Tech, to show people where fellow entrepreneurs work—and awareness and celebration of the state’s entrepreneur community.