Mark Cuban and his cohorts won’t be on hand for the Carroll Biz Challenge live finale tonight at 6 at the Carroll Arts Center, but judges Josh Kohn of Kohn Creative, Mike Gibble of Gibble Enterprises Holdings, Trisha McLean of Ting and Amy Wallace-Yingling of SBDC will try to be every bit as wise in their decision-making as their “Shark Tank" counterparts when they pick the 2019 winner.
The Biz Challenge, sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and now in its eighth year, has become a tradition, offering local entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their new business ideas, make connections, get publicity, and compete for a $5,000 cash prize and thousands of dollars worth of additional prizes and services.
Local businesses are a cornerstone of our community. There is little more difficult than starting a new one, so we’re always supportive of anything that can help with that process and encourage entrepreneurial spirit, as the Carroll Biz Challenge surely has.
Past winners of the Biz Challenge — Holistic Home Energy Services (2012), Silver Linings Lavender Farm (2013), Run Moore (2014), Autumn Summer (2015), Enter Exit Escape (2016), bookSwap (2017) and Brewery Fire (2018) — have said they benefited from the cash and prizes, the exposure and also from the chance to talk with and learn from other entrepreneurs. For example, Steven Moore, owner of Run Moore, told us this spring that participating in the Biz Challenge was critical to helping get his now-successful running store off the ground.
Owners of the five businesses who made the cut from an initial field of 47 entrants will be making presentations to the judges tonight, all hoping to come away with the Grand Prize or perhaps the Peoples’ Choice Award. The five businesses are in various stages of development, from still in the idea phase to having been open for several months.
⋅Battleground gaming lounge, in TownMall in Westminster, aims to offer kids a place to socialize and entertain themselves in a safe environment. Battleground is owned by Mike Borris, Anthony DeJesus and John Wah. Since opening in May, Battleground has hosted some 25 tournaments and more than 5,000 gamers.
⋅Codeland is a program/website still in its conceptual stage that aims to help students with coding. Founders Nick DeTello, Riley Holmes, and Dmitry Slavnikov are working to design a program that will walk students through a coding curriculum, allow them to take on their own projects, and benefit from mentorship of experienced coders — all in one space.
⋅Drifting Dreamers is a business that has turned a 1963 Volkswagen bus into a fancy photo booth, the brainchild of a couple who consider themselves, well, drifting dreamers. Jeff and Brooke Schnorr launched the business about a month ago, offering photos in and around the van with custom backdrops, props and a banner on each photo for marketing purposes.
⋅FishED is a device designed to allow marine life to avoid being swept into water intakes. Brian Wagner patented FishED, which stands for “Fish Escape Diversion,” and he told us “it’s helping the environment, while meeting the human need.” FishED will slow down the speed of the water so creatures can make their way out through an escape hatch.
⋅KnowMe is a smart medical information bracelet developed by Casey Davis, a physician assistant. He described KnowMe as a patient-focused medical record device and service that would follow the patient, centering them on their own care and helping providers to better provide that care, different from a traditional medical ID bracelet, because it can be updated.
Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin said live finale attendees can can expect “lots of energy, lots of excitement and great local entrepreneurs.”