For more than 50 companies at the Business & Innovation Showcase, Friday, April 5, 2013, was game time.
Sponsored by BB&T and hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, the showcase housed entrepreneurs from the Smith School, the university and the region.
The showcase, which was held in a packed Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, also offered an element of competition: five $2,000 prizes were at stake and the competition was fierce.
From a music-playing platform to a zombie-themed run to an eco-friendly shaving foam company to a real estate information website and app, the companies varied in their products and services, but not in their level of fervor or ingenuity.
As passersby strolled through the showcase, companies pitched their businesses with hopes of garnering text message votes. The five companies with the highest tallies were victorious. Visitors could also stop by the AOL Innovation Lounge to grab coffee and network while AOL conducted informal recruiting interviews.
Maggie Croushore, founder and CEO of KidFit, attended the showcase to spread the message about her company. A Maryland graduate, Croushore started KidFit to help spread the word about childhood obesity. KidFit’s programming helps schools with their physical education courses, incorporating academic rigor and goals for the children to train for in an effort to spur weight loss.
“I see the showcase as a time to network and to spread the mission of KidFit. It’s also a catalyst for creating a healthier community,” she said. Croushore has also competed in Dingman’s Pitch Dingman Competition, as well as the Center for Social Value Creation’s No Limits Pitch Competition.
Another showcase attendee was Lou Mintzer, MBA ’08. He came to represent Homesnap, an app and website designed to provide easier access to important real estate information. Users can snap a photo of a house using their iPhone, and the app will generate pertinent information, including the most recent sale price, property taxes, local schools, etc.
Mintzer, a graduate of Smith’s Part-Time MBA program in Washington, D.C., has worked closely with the Smith School even after graduating, hiring two Smith MBA students as interns who work with Homesnap one day a week for 10 hours as marketing managers.
The showcase was a great time to build relationships, he said. “It’s really cool for us to get the word out. We’ve built a great app, but telling people is always a challenge,” he said, explaining that Homesnap is a small fish compared to other sites such as Zillow.com or Realestate.com.
“We have a BB gun in a Bazooka fight. We have to find low-cost ways to highlight our product,” he said. “If we win a prize, we’ll put it right back into our product.”
The five winners of this year’s Business & Innovation Showcase were: