Pitch Across Maryland delivers on-the-go entrepreneurial contest

Statewide bus tour offered Washington Countians chance to get word out about their business ideas

September 27, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Michael Binko videos entrepreneur Rebecca Rush in the Pitch Across Maryland bus Thursday in downtown Hagerstown. Hagerstown was the tour's 23rd stop.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

Jeanne Dietz-Band sat in a small studio at the back of the bus waiting to promote her smoked spices while cars streamed by outside along Washington Street.

A man operating a video camera gave Dietz-Band a few pointers on how to get her point across while other anxious local entrepreneurs waited at the front of the bus for their turn.

Pitch Across Maryland made its way to downtown Hagerstown Thursday afternoon, delivering it’s on-the-go entrepreneurial contest to any Washington Countians trying to get word out about their business ideas.

Pitch Across Maryland, offered by Startup Maryland, is a statewide bus tour in which entrepreneurs are offered a chance to make a pitch for an idea in hopes of winning a competition that will give them free business mentoring and entry into other entrepreneurial competitions.

Entrepreneurs can compete in the event for free, and more than 100 people registered, said Julie Lenzer Kirk, who was helping to run the operation Thursday.


The tour, which started Sept. 11 and concludes today with a celebration at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., has visited business incubators, economic development agencies, universities and a state landmarks.

The 1 p.m.  stop in Hagerstown was outside the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown at 32 W. Washington St. The bus parked along Washington Street outside of the school’s University Plaza and entrepreneurs gathered in the plaza area waiting to get on the bus.

Lenzer Kirk said 13 entrepreneurs signed up to give pitches, which was the most of any stop so far on the tour.

“How exciting is that?” asked Lenzer Kirk, the executive director of the Maryland Center for Entreprenuership in Howard County.

One by one, entrepreneurs were led to the studio in the back of the bus for a video taping of their pitch, which usually lasted three to five minutes.

A panel of experts will narrow the field of competitors to a “Great 8” by late October or early November, Lenzer Kirk said.

On Nov. 13, another panel will narrow the field of eight to a winner and a runner-up during the Entrepreneur Expo at the  BWI Airport Marriott, Lenzer Kirk said.

After the filming, Dietz-Band described the experience as “fun.”

“I don’t mind rattling about things I want to do,” she said.

On her farm south of Keedysville, Dietz-Band raises goats for meat and milk, and raises a rare breed of hogs known as “mulefoots.” She is working on a “very new and exciting” idea of smoking salt, sugar and various spices with wood like oak and maple from her farm.

Dietz-Band said she found out about Pitch Across Maryland from Leslie Hart, Washington County’s agriculture marketing specialist who has been helping the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission on some work.

“She’s an amazing help to the farmers around here,” Dietz-Band said of Hart.

Mary S. Creek went on the bus to promote her Palmyra Farm Cheese operation on Wagaman Road. Creek said her cheese operation is growing so fast that the person who processes it for her cannot keep up with demand. Creek said she is thinking about starting her own processing facility and used her pitch to find anyone who might be interested in investing in her operation.

Creek said she felt “very anxious about the taping. But they made you very comfortable,” Creek said.

Rebecca L. Rush used her pitch to promote her DERP Technologies LLC in Hagerstown, which involves alternative forms of energy through solar and wind generation, and looking at ways to store the energy.

“I think this a great opportunity,” Rush said.


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