/buzzquake will join dozens of other businesses sponsoring the 2014 InvestMaryland Challenge, a national seed and early-stage business competition hosted by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in partnership with Inc. Magazine.
Four $100,000 Maryland Venture Fund grants will be made to winners in the categories of IT hardware and software, cybersecurity, life science and general industry. Other winners will receive business service awards, including web design and development services from /buzzquake.
“We believe strongly in the value of mentoring and seed funding,” said Lynne D’Autrechy, president of /buzzquake. “We benefited from generous support when we were getting started and we are pleased to have an opportunity to pay it forward.”
Challenge applicants must be legal businesses with fewer than 25 employees and annual revenue of less than $1M. They will be judged by a panel of 15 business leaders based on their competitive differentiation, technology uniqueness, management team, financial plan and go-to-market strategy. Following several competitive rounds that will include face-to-face interviews, finalists will be selected in March and winners will be announced in April.
“Here in Maryland we’re looking for the next Google, Microsoft, Medimmune or Under Armour,“ said Governor Martin O’Malley in a recent interview promoting the contest. “The Challenge is more than about money. It’s a great networking opportunity.”
Launched in Sept. 2012 by O’Malley, the InvestMaryland Challenge brings together business organizations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, and federal, state and local government agencies to showcase innovative ideas and attract next-generation technologies to Maryland.
“The press response and the community response to our InvestMaryland victory really has made an impact and caused all sorts of people to reach out to us,” said Guy Filippelli, president of Red Owl Analytics, the 2013 winner in the IT category.
“We applaud the Challenge’s structure,” said D’Autrechy. “It’s a merit-based competition where the best and brightest reap rewards for their potential. That’s the American way.”
Although the Challenge is open to non-Maryland ventures, winners are expected to establish a place of business in the state either through acquired space or a state incubator, and at least 51 percent of the grant money must be spent within the state. Sole proprietorships are not eligible.
Last year’s Challenge received 259 applications from companies in 11 states and awarded $300,000 in grants and $125,000 in cash and business services to more than 30 companies. For more information, visit www.investmarylandchallenge.org.