Community College of Baltimore County’s Center for Business Innovation hosted its 10th Annual Business Plan Competition Virtual Awards Banquet on Monday, Feb. 6.
The event featured the top 10 pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs, all of whom are CCBC students or alumni. The winners shared a total of $62,500 in seed money to be used as start-up capital for their new or growing businesses.
Prize money was made possible by the generous support of the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, which has awarded more than $1 million in grant funding to expand the Center for Business Innovation.
In addition to the start-up capital to support entrepreneurs, the grant provides instructional support to develop new courses and workshops to strengthen the business acumen for those interested in starting a new business.
“All of the finalists deserve to be recognized for their hard work preparing for this year’s competition,” said Dennis Sullivan, executive director of CCBC’s Center for Business Innovation.
“The six award winners did a terrific job showing how their products and services fill a need in the market and outlining a go-to market strategy as they launch their businesses. We’re looking forward to seeing how each of these businesses grow over the coming years and make a difference in the market.”
This year’s first-place prize of $20,000 was awarded to Michael Guarraia of MG Custom Lighting, LLC, a company that makes handmade industrial-style lamps using reclaimed industrial parts and machinery.
“It’s one thing to win prize money, but perhaps even more gratifying is just the validation that my ‘hobby business’ is worth investing in, and has the potential to do something big,” said Guarraia, who lives in Owings Mills.
“I will be sure I honor this commitment that CCBC has placed on me, and I will use this investment to really grow my business. I look forward to continued engagement and mentorship from the Center for Business Innovation.”
Other winners included:
Second place ($15,000): Jon’ll and Matthew Boyd, Boyd Cru Wines (Silver Spring, Md.); Boyd Cru Wines is a Black family-owned wine brand that believes wine is a common language but speaks to each person differently.
Third place ($10,000): Herschel Ruben, Compressent LLC (Baltimore, Md.); Compressent is a company that designs ergonomic products that accommodate the unique ways our brains work.
Fourth place ($7,500): Rodney Winmond, VERO Security Solutions, LLC (New Freedom, Pa.); VERO Security Solutions is a security company that utilizes off-duty police officers as security officers and provides firearms and security-related training.
Runner-up ($5,000): Stacey Dennis, Ancient Arts, LLC DBA Whispers in My Ears (Parkville, Md.); Whispers in My Ears is a sexual health education program aimed at adolescents and young adults.
Runner-up ($5,000): Staci Newman, KiddieLane, LLC (Baltimore, Md.); KiddieLane is a software-as-a-service company that provides cloud-based online scheduling and business management software applications for the underserved after-school activity and enrichment program industry.
Since 2013, CCBC’s Annual Business Plan Competition has helped launch 47 new businesses and distributed $329,980 in seed money. Over the last 10 years, more than 4,200 people have engaged with CBI’s business programs and 2,772 people have earned college and continuing education credits in a variety of entrepreneurial courses and workshops.
The finalists in this year’s competition were among 173 who participated in workshops leading up to the competition with 28 submitting business plans to compete. Out of the 10 finalists, seven are women, 90% are age 30 or older, 70% are minorities, and 80% of the businesses are owned by either women, minorities or veterans.
The CCBC Center for Business Innovation is dedicated to serving CCBC students and alumni who are interested in learning how to turn their ideas for new products, services, businesses and organizations into sustainable entities. Entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni are mentored by CCBC faculty and local business owners.
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