Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship announces awards for inaugural Baltipreneurs Accelerator Program
| By Molly Robey
Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CI&E) awarded $5,000 in funding to four small business ventures. The new round of small business capital is driven by the University’s Baltipreneurs Accelerator Program, which provides funding, training, and mentorship to startups to scale, grow, and thrive in Baltimore city. The awards were distributed following a virtual pitch event where the program’s cohort used a cutting-edge peer-review process to determine the winning companies.
• 1st place ($3,000): Stone’s Throw Hash, a locally-sourced natural food company
• 2nd place ($1,000): Tomana Inc., a pet-sitting sharing app
• 3rd place ($500 each): Halal Beauty Cosmetics, a beauty supply company and Smalltimore Homes, a nonprofit affordable housing initiative
“Loyola’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship is proud of the curiosity, commitment to continuous improvement, and dedication from all eight companies that participated in this year’s Baltipreneurs program,” said Wendy Bolger, director of the CI&E. “Each company overcame unique challenges and took advantage of the resources Loyola’s CI&E offered to grow their ventures and hone their business plans.”
Initially, CI&E planned to hold a Demo Day to introduce the business ventures to the public; however, due to social distancing restrictions, the cohort shifted its pitches online. Projects were evaluated based on a set of five criteria:
• need for the product/service,
• potential for growth,
• viability of the business model,
• social impact, and
• progress made during the program.
“What set our winners apart was the ability to iterate and expand their ideas throughout the course of the program,” said Bolger. “Some of our winners even made a great pivot in their models due to the pandemic.”
“I am honored to receive the inaugural Baltipreneurs first place award and to have worked alongside a talented and driven group of small business owners,” said Ben James, founder of Stone’s Throw Hash. “This program has challenged and inspired me to grow my business in new directions I didn’t think possible. I learned so much through the conversations, activities, and from fellow entrepreneurs, that I will continue to serve our growth and sustainability for years to come.”
The first group of Baltipreneurs was selected from a competitive pool of more than 60 applicants. All program participants received a $2,000 stipend awarded in stages as they met their milestones, a dedicated mentor, business, and entrepreneurship instruction from Loyola faculty members and other partners, dedicated office space at the Loyola/Notre Dame Library, one-on-one pitch training, networking opportunities, and a photo session for professional portraits.
Baltiprenuers will open its 2020-2021 applications in August. Up to twelve teams will be selected. Teams are required to attend 10 sessions from November through February, before completing a Demo Day pitch.
For more information on the Baltipreneurs Accelerator Program and to submit an application, visit www.loyola.edu/accelerator.