Pitch Across Maryland stops in Westminster

Jim "Punch" Robinson believes his company, which designs educational games for babies, toddlers, and preschool-aged children, has had relatively small success since its founding in 2003.

But on Monday, Robinson was looking for partners through the Pitch Across Maryland 2.0 bus tour that could help expand his business, kneebouncers.com, to a new audience.

"What an opportunity to have, to be able to put your story out there," Robinson said as he stepped off the Pitch Across Maryland bus after recording his pitch video.

Pitch Across Maryland is a three week bus tour sponsored by Startup Maryland offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to promote their ideas through two to four minute videos and a live competition in November. The tour, now in its second year, stopped in Westminster Monday at Land Sea Air Manufacturing.

Julie Lenzer Kirk, co-chair of Startup Maryland and Director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, said the tour is intended to celebrate the passion of entrepreneurship and connect entrepreneurs with the resources needed to grow their business.

Robinson, whose advertising and interactive design office is in Sykesville, was one of six local entrepreneurs who recorded their pitch during the tour stop. Videos will soon be posted on the Startup Maryland YouTube site and entered to win a spot in the Invest Maryland Challenge.

Entrants in Pitch Across Maryland will be winnowed down to the top eight entries, with those entrants presenting a live pitch to potential investors in November. The winner will earn a spot in the Invest Maryland Challenge, a contest sponsored by the state department of business and economic development, which offers four $100,000 prizes.

Carroll County is the only Pitch Across Maryland stop, out of 28 in the state, that highlighted manufacturing.

Jon Weetman, co-administrator of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development, called the bus tour stopping in Carroll a "fantastic opportunity" for entrepreneurs.

"The best part of this is that it's made by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs," Weetman said. "The opportunity to sit and talk with someone who has already done what they are trying to do is invaluable."

Taneytown resident Brian Wagner, who learned about the bus tour through the Carroll Business Path, pitched an idea that would streamline the information gathering process for search and rescue teams.

Wagner, a search and rescue volunteer since 2006, said his software would eliminate disconnect between agencies transmitting information while making the information available electronically for those involved in the search and rescue.

Although he was admittedly a little nervous before boarding the bus, Wagner said he believed it went pretty well.

"I'm really looking forward to getting the video online," he said.


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