Archives For November 2011

Maryland in India

MDbizMedia —  November 30, 2011 — Leave a comment

by Zoe Pagonis, Office of the Governor

Governor O’Malley takes a moment to talk about the importance of global trade while visiting the Tata Group in Mumbai, India. Governor O’Malley is leading a 6-day mission of over 100 Maryland business leaders, local elected officials and university officials to India so that we can expand opportunity for more Marylanders at home.

by Karen Glenn Hood, DBED

Governor O'Malley presents the Maryland flag to the Chief Minister of Hyderabad.

As Maryland’s six-day trade mission to India continued today in Mumbai, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian S. Johansson joined Dr. V. Rangaraj, Chairman of the U.S. India Importers Council, to sign an agreement committing the two regions to boost trade.

The Council was created to support Indian companies that import goods and services from the U.S. and advance President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which was unveiled in February 2010 with a goal of doubling exports over the next five years and supporting two million jobs in America.

As part of the agreement, Maryland and India will collaborate in business, trade and economic relations and assist companies in both regions with connecting to potential trade partners. Governor Martin O’Malley, who is leading the mission and its more than 100-member delegation, witnessed the signing.

Maryland's economic mission to India has already resulted in signings between 4 Maryland companies and their Indian counterparts, as well as today's signing of the agreement to boost trade between Maryland and India.

“This agreement helps to build on the proactive steps Maryland has already taken to boost trade.  We have launched the Maryland Export Initiative to complement President Obama’s initiative, are providing export grants to small and mid-sized business and continue to have a strong relationship with federal agencies focused on overseas trade,” said DBED Secretary Christian S. Johansson. “India is a very strong market for Maryland – both imports and exports – and we look forward to expanding that partnership.”

“Maryland’s Governor O’Malley is leading the way in promoting exports from the U.S., and especially Maryland, in leading this historic trade delegation to India,” said Dr. Rangaraj.  “For our part, we will help grow Maryland exports that strengthen our US-India trade relations and create jobs for both Maryland and India.”

In 2010, India was Maryland’s 12th largest export market with $233 million in goods and services, and was the State’s 13th largest import market, with more than $465 million. As of September, Maryland exports to India were valued at over $192 million, representing an 18 percent increase over the same period in 2010. In the first nine months of this year, the Port of Baltimore saw $341 million in trade to and from India compared with $229 million from the same time frame in 2010 – a 49 percent increase.

by Jill Feinberg, Communications Director, Star-Spangled 200, Inc.

Last week, Governor Martin O’Malley was joined by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and representatives from the U.S. Navy and Operation Sail, Inc. (OpSail) to announce Star-Spangled Sailabration, an international maritime festival that will launch Maryland’s three-year War of 1812 bicentennial efforts.  Star-Spangled Sailabration will take place June 13-19, 2012 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

“The bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner and the War of 1812 will depict Maryland’s pivotal role in securing America’s independence,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.  “We are pleased to welcome these ships to the Inner Harbor and the Bay for this historic celebration that will remind Americans of how, through courage and conviction, Marylanders from all walks of life came together and gave our nation her flag and national anthem.”

Dozens of Navy ships and tall ships from the U.S. and international navies are expected to line Baltimore’s harbor during the week, bringing thousands of sailors to the region.  Additional activities will include free on-board public tours of ships, official visits by international dignitaries and Navy leadership, fireworks, crew sporting competitions, community service projects, living history displays, educational activities, a new symphonic work, a public art project, and much more.

A U.S. Navy crew mans the deck of the U.S.S. Hurricane Star-Spangled Sailabration.

In addition to Baltimore, the Navy will commemorate the Bicentennial in New Orleans, Norfolk, VA, New York, Boston, and several other historically significant cities.  The Chief of Naval Operations has invited 120 countries to send appropriate combat ships as well as their national academy sail training tall ships.  Officials have identified 9 U.S. warships and 5 tall sailing ships to visit Baltimore; other vessels from Great Britain, Canada, Columbia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico are expected to participate.  The Coast Guard has confirmed its tall ship, the Eagle, will visit and lead the parade of sail.  Operation Sail (OpSail), the Congressionally-chartered nonprofit producer of tall ship events, is partnering with the U.S. Navy to produce next year’s commemoration events.

Star-Spangled Sailabration is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to Baltimore and the region and contribute to the economy through increased hotel bookings, restaurant reservations, and spending at shops and retail outlets.  The June events are also expected to attract significant national and international media coverage.

On the first official day of a six-day economic development mission to India, four Maryland businesses have already signed agreements with their Indian counterparts, boosting two-way trade and investment for Maryland and India.

After a brief stop in Doha, Qatar, where he met His Highness the Amir of Qatar; company officials of Q-Tel, one of the fastest growing mobile companies; and officials of Diar, a real estate company, Governor O’Malley witnessed the agreement signings before the four companies and their Indian partners.

A view of Qatar.

ANGARAI, a Greenbelt-based management consulting firm specializing in project management, oversight and business transformation  solutions and one of Prince George’s County’s fastest growing small businesses, signed an agreement with CI , a technology product  development company based in Chennai.  The agreement enables ANGARAI to pursue opportunities in mobile and web applications, potentially opening up an office in Maryland.

The second signing was between Rockville-based Sheladia Associates, an engineering, architecture and development company and two Indian firms – M/S Sai Matarani Toll Ways Ltd. and Gayatri Projects Ltd. Sheladia will provide design and project management services valued at $3.7 million for upgrading the Panikoili – Rimouli Section of National Highway 215 to a 4 Lane facility in the State of Orissa.

A third signing involved an MOU between Maryland-based DataNet Systems Corp. and RT-MediBus Technologies and the Health Management and Research Institute in Hyderabad to create MediHelp, a 24-hour/seven-day a week health care helpline.  The creation of the helpline can help screen minor ailments and illnesses, which could ultimately reduce the overall cost of public healthcare. The call center would be located in Prince George’s County.

A view of Hyderabad.

In addition, Amarex, a Germantown-based clinical research organization, signed an agreement with Gaithersburg’s Shreis Scalene Sciences LLC to gain FDA approval for the medical device Cytotron, which uses a patented technology to treat regenerative and degenerative diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis. The device was invented and developed by Dr. Rajah Vijay Kumar, Chairman of Scalene Cybernetics in Bangalore, a technology and equity partner of Shreis Scalene Sciences.

The delegation, which includes 100 business leaders, educators and elected officials, arrived in Hyderabad in the early hours this morning.  Upon arrival, Governor O’Malley addressed the Confederation of Indian Industries, a non-government, not-for-profit organization that is over 116 years old. The association has over 8,100 members from the private and public sectors, and includes over 90,000 companies from the region.

The Governor later met  with Dr. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, for a sister-state agreement signing between Maryland and Andhra Pradesh.  The agreement commits the two regions to working together on matters of business and industry, culture and arts and education and health.

Governor O'Malley met with Dr. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, and signed a sister state agreement to promote collaboration on matters of business and industry, culture and arts and education and health.

Between 2004 and 2009, Indian companies made eight acquisitions in Maryland, totaling $564 million.  In 2010, India was Maryland’s 12th largest export market with $233 million in goods and services, and was the State’s 13th largest import market, with more than $465 million. As of September, Maryland exports to India were valued at over $192 million, representing an 18 percent increase over the same period in 2010.  Maryland’s India office also has a U.S. location in the International Incubator at the University of Maryland, College Park to assist local companies open offices in India. In the first nine months of this year, the Port of Baltimore saw $341 million in trade to and from India compared with $229 million from the same time frame in 2010 – a 49 percent increase.

Governor O’Malley, First Lady O’Malley and the delegation will spend two days in Hyderabad, and will then travel to Mumbai and New Delhi to boost two-way trade and investment.   The six-day mission will wrap up with a visit to the Taj Mahal. Governor O’Malley is the first sitting Governor from Maryland to lead a trade mission to India.

by Timothy Metzler, Grace Coshaw, Veronica Pierce & Meir Horovitz, Loyola College

Ethan Giffin was inspired to create a web company that would serve the vast needs of the growing e-Commerce industry.  So, in 2007, Giffin founded Groove Commerce, a boutique web agency providing enterprise-level services in downtown Baltimore. Giffin and his team have created a company that is dedicated to providing the complete package of web design, development and marketing under one roof.

Since its inception, Groove Commerce has become a trusted source in the field, and one of the premiere web design and development companies in the mid-Atlantic region collaborating with national and international clients. Their promise is to give customers the dedication and late-night hours of a small start-up and the professional expertise of a Fortune 500. Their customer service is personal, plainspoken and always available.

The company’s approach, Giffin said, is to help clients solve their problems with a thorough analysis of their current website, including the website of the client’s competitors. Through research, reports and conversation, Groove identifies areas of weakness at varying levels that involve major and minor changes as well as easy and complex solutions.

Groove Commerce crafts a strategy based on your company’s unique needs including expected growth, budget and time,” Giffin said.  “If your project has limitations due to size, technology or any other variable, don’t worry. We are always willing to roll up our sleeves and get creative. We are not content proposing just any solution – we are dedicated to determining and executing your best solution. Your new plan of action won’t be a PDF that out-dates itself in a matter of months.”

Cookies.com's website was design and developed by Groove Commerce.

The company’s online marketing experts help companies revise, transform and create strategies as new business goals are identified, as new technologies occur and as your users’ expectations change.

“Your e-Commerce or lead generation website needs more than a pretty interface. It needs to have a useable interface – your shoppers and visitors have to be able to find the products and information they’re looking for with the utmost ease,” Giffin said.  “This simple principle is the leading cause for why sites don’t convert!”

Today, the company has developed new sites for myriad companies, from Cookies.com to Epic Dental, and continues to grow.

by Ari Munk, Bernadette Owen, Andrew Petcoff, Elizabeth Wilkinson & Mark Toran II, Loyola College

As we get older, we become more cognizant of the fall, and we become afraid. We know the consequences, and the pain associated with the scars. And we stop climbing. We stop trying to get to the top of the world, to the sun, to the highest possible perch. We tame ourselves, and lie down instead, because the ground is safer.
- David Johnston

The average person would expect the above quote to come from a philosophy professor–adorned with a tweed jacket and spectacles, lecturing students on the works of Aristotle.  But, this quote came from the cultivated mind of David Johnston, a bodybuilder and personal trainer extraordinaire. In a place far removed from a tweed jacket atmosphere, you will find David instructing in his own classroom at The Colosseum Gym in Columbia, MD.

David started personal training in 2004 at Lifetime Fitness in Chicago. After two years of successfully building a strong client base, David was asked to move to Lifetime Fitness in Columbia to help generate business. David instantly excelled in his new role by doing what he does best – getting results for his clients. One of his first Maryland personal training clients, Stephanie McClellan lost 70 pounds, eventually losing over 200 pounds by relentlessly following David’s instruction. After his tenure at Lifetime, David decided that he wanted to start his own personal training business and move away from the corporate gym environment. Thus in 2010, David Johnston Training was born.

In just one year David has built an extensive client base of his own, despite the recent economic downturn. In addition to his results-driven methodologies, David states that having his business in Maryland has been a contributing factor to his success. The affluent Howard County area is ripe with individuals who want to invest in their health and fitness in order to live long and fruitful lives. Additionally, Maryland has a very interconnected body building community, which has a spillover effect into attracting dedicated clients. Bodybuilding has long been a passion of David’s since he first started after he finished college. He actively competes and trains fitness competitors across the East Coast.

Most important in David’s success is his passion and love for physical fitness. Growing up overweight in a family with a history of obesity, David was never satisfied with his figure. After graduating from college with a degree in philosophy, David realized that his mind had been cultivated, but his body had not. Intent on perfecting himself from the outside in, David immersed himself into exercise physiology and nutrition. Through this process, David found that bodybuilding suited his personality. The idea of bodybuilding – trying to get a little better and a little stronger every day led him to his ultimate fitness goal.

A significant factor that separates David from other trainers in his field is his focus and dedication to helping his clients achieve their goals. David is constantly coming up with unique ways to make personal training affordable and accessible, including online coaching and tandem training. In addition to strength training, David emphasizes the importance of educating his clients about nutrition and provides guidance for how to set and pursue goals. David’s philosophy background puts him in a unique position to relate to his clients. According to him, getting people to lose weight is not as simple as writing a diet and exercise plan. Many of his clients are professionals with very busy schedules, requiring a tailored fitness program that works for them.

The next step for David in his business is to mentor budding personal trainers, using his training acumen to lead them to success in the field. His ultimate goal is to bring in new and young talent, take them under his wing and train them to be elite level trainers. Starting off as a “starving artist trainer” David has experienced the trials and tribulations going into business for oneself. One of the biggest lessons he learned was that it can be difficult to be a great, effective trainer and a good businessman. His underlying philosophy was that if he produced results for his clients, the business would come. And it did.

by Matt Robey, Andrew Sogn, Erdem Demirtas & Haiyin Chang, Loyola College

Parking Panda users give a thumbs on their good spot.


If you’ve ever been to a concert or sporting event you’ve most likely seen homeowners turning their front lawns into impromptu parking lots. Parking Panda has taken this idea and created an online app that allows users to reserve parking spots from other users.

Founded in April of 2011 by Nick Miller and Adam Zilberbaum, Parking Panda helps users find inexpensive parking in a big city. The application is a real-time community marketplace which allows city residents to post available parking spaces for a fee, and conversely allows those visiting the city to search for a parking space near their desired destination and reserve it in advance.

Miller introduced the idea of Parking Panda at a Startup Weekend Baltimore event. The event brings together developers, designers, aspiring entrepreneurs and the like together under one roof for a 54 hour period to take their ideas from scratch pad to product.  Each team competes to build a viable web or mobile application, with the prospect of turning it into a bona fide business over the course of a weekend.

The way the Parking Panda works is relatively simple. The user looking for a parking spot goes to the website or mobile app and types in their destination and hits search.  The website will produce a list of available parking spots with detailed information, including daily cost, distance to the destination and pictures of the spot.  The user chooses the desired spot, and hits the “Park It” button and enters payment information.

City residents that have a prime piece of parking real estate available are able to list their parking spot in the web-based marketplace as well. In this way, posters are able to make extra cash by renting out the empty space on their driveway.

Miller and Zilberbaum worked on the Parking Panda idea throughout the weekend and ended up winning the event. As a result of feedback they had received, the pair realized that the idea had garnered interest and had potential.  An accelerator program in New York City even noticed, and offered them $25,000 to participate in their program, which the team gladly accepted.

Moving forward, the co-founders of Panda Parking are looking forward to expanding to other major cities across the United States. With a New York City version already in the works, there is no doubt that this mutually beneficial smart phone app will be arriving soon in a city near you.

Rock Star, Preacher, Coach

by Andrea Vernot  

Following the CNN screening, the UMBC-based Town Hall was streamed live by AT&T on the web, including to eight ‘viewing’ parties across the country.

Like a musician serenading his fans; a pastor rallying his congregation; or a coach motivating his team, watching Mario Armstrong deftly move around a packed auditorium at UMBC Sunday evening was both inspirational and motivational.

Hugging friends and colleagues, coaxing audience participation and preaching passion and ‘positivity’ – the Maryland-based “Digital Lifestyle Expert” – a regular contributor to CNN, NPR and NBC – attracted 300+ people at the end of a long holiday weekend in the name of technology, innovation and opportunity.

Innovation Nation was supported by DBED and the Maryland Small Business Financing Authority program. Shown here, Stanley Tucker (MSBDFA), Rhonda Ray (DBED) and Omar Muhamad.

The event – “Innovation Nation” – brought together entrepreneurs, techies, students and sponsors for a screening of CNN’s “Black in America 4” and a post-viewing town hall broadcast live on the internet.  The webcast  – moderated by Mario – included two of the documentary’s featured entrepreneurs, Wayne Sutton and Hank Williams, as well as local tech CEO Dave Troy, venture capitalist Terry Jones, tech incubator chief Ellen Hemmerly, and my boss, Christian Johansson.

A one-time DBED employee who joined then Mayor O’Malley’s staff as his first chief technology officer, Mario has built a successful business and brand identity (www.marioarmstrong.com) as a media personality, motivational speaker, public servant and social entrepreneur.  Along with his wife, Nicole Hunter – CEO and organizational mastermind behind Mario Armstrong Media – the company creates content for traditional, mobile and online media outlets for syndication.  Their latest venture, TechTechBoom.com is a new social network for youth that inspires teenagers to ‘move from being passive users of cell phones and laptops into the next generation of digital scientists, innovators and activists by increasing their interest and knowledge in STEM.’

Mario was featured in the award-winning Maryland of Opportunity campaign which debuted in January 2010.

I’m fortunate to work with inspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders every day.   One of our core goals is to sell Maryland as a hot bed for talent, technology and opportunity.   Watching Mario Sunday, I was reminded why he was one of the first people I called for marketing and web site advice when I started this position and why we subsequently featured him in our inaugural “Maryland of Opportunity” campaign.

Watch the full broadcast of Innovation Nation: Start-Up Success Town Hall  here.

[UMBC President Freeman Hrabowksi, originally scheduled to participate in Innovation Nation was unable to do so as a result of a scheduling conflict with his appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes.  To learn more about the head of the nation’s top up and coming university three years in a row, watch Hrabowski: An educator focused on math and science.]

(Reprinted, with permission, from Vernot’s blog “Selling the Free State”)

by Diane Mallare, Chris Palmer, Ilse Raven & Megan Ward, Loyola College

Susan Garber, Co-Executive Director of AT:LAST, Inc., always knew she wanted to start a business that would make a difference in the lives of people. So when Maryland’s Department of Disabilities Technology Assistance Program approached her, she jumped at the chance to help connect individuals to the changing world of technology.

Thirteen years ago, Garber, a former special education teacher, started AT:LAST (Assistive Technology: Loans, Acquisitions, Services, and Training) out of her own home in Laurel, Md. And to date, AT:LAST has saved its customers over $2.6 million dollars on their assistive technologies thanks to initial support from the Maryland Technology Assistance Program, the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC).

Her customers include all of Maryland’s 24 public school systems, colleges such as Loyola University and Johns Hopkins, government agencies such as County Health Departments, organizations and individuals.

Garber’s mission is clear: to educate individuals with disabilities and seniors with functional limitations about assistive technology in order to be more independent and gain new opportunities.

There are over 45,000 different assisted devices available, but based on their customer needs AT:LAST offers 18,500 products. The company also offers a wide range of devices, from educational software to communication, visual supportive or therapeutic devices.

As the technology industry is rapidly changing, AT:LAST is continually adapting their product offerings and services to best meet the needs of their customers.

With the trend towards portable, handheld devices,  there has been a “paradigm shift from traditional technologies to lightweight, portable devices,” Garber said.

“As technology continues to change it’s crucial for AT:LAST to remain knowledgeable and be the expert to help teach our customers. One of the latest developments is to fully operate a computer with only the movement of your eyes,” she said.

Despite these changes, their philosophy remains the same: “to find out first what our customer needs.”

Even though AT:LAST may not be able to offer discounts on all technology devices such as the iPad, they are able to offer discounts on accessories such as iPad cases to make it indestructible for a child who may suffer from autism, or a key card for a person who may have difficulty controlling the iPad or mounting hardware. Additionally, AT:LAST is able to provide educational and training services and workshops to help customers most effectively utilize technology and the accessories. With all the technology and accessories available, AT:LAST likes to problem solve for their customer to make an existing technology even more accessible for someone with special needs.

Garber still remains as passionate about her business as she did when she founded it thirteen years ago.

Her advice to those who desire to start their own business is to evaluate whether one is “truly passionate about this business because it will involve a lot of sacrifice, a lot of long days and nights, and really putting your all into it to be successful. It’s one thing to start a business, but to keep it going, you’ve got to have fire in the belly and feel like what you’re doing is making a difference.”

Do you have what it takes?

MDbizMedia —  November 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

Today is the kick-off of Global Entrepreneurship Week, “the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.”  Across the globe, countries are hosting events to spur innovation and bring entrepreneurs together with angel investors and venture capitalists – including events such as today’s Entrepreneur Expo held in Maryland.

MDbizMedia spoke with successful Maryland entrepreneurs and asked, “What does it take to be an entrepreneur?”  Here’s what they had to say:

by Jill Feinberg, Communications and PR Director, Star Spangled 200, Inc.

Maryland small business F. W. Haxel Flag Co. will be the distributor of commemorative Star Spangled Banner flags, just in time for the bicentennial celebration.  Marylanders can now purchase the commemorative 15-star, 15-stripe American flags – replicas of the Star-Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem following the all-night British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814.

F.W. Haxel Flag Co., a family-owned and operated business since 1935,  is currently distributing the U.S.A. made flags – featuring the official Star-Spangled 200 bicentennial logo.  The flags are available in two versions: a printed nylon flag ($20); and a limited-edition, sewn nylon flag with appliqued stars ($73.50). Proceeds benefit three nonprofit (501 c3) organizations: The American Flag Foundation, Friends of Fort McHenry and The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House.

The Upper Bay 1812 Steering Committee is launched.

Earlier this week, Harford County Executive David Craig, Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty, and Cecil County Commissioner President Jim Mullin joined representatives from the three non-profits and veterans groups at F.W. Haxel Flag Co. to recognize the partners and to announce the formation of the Upper Bay 1812 Steering Committee.

“The Upper Bay 1812 Steering Committee will work to educate, engage, and celebrate the area’s 1812 heritage during Maryland’s statewide bicentennial commemoration,” said Harford County Executive David Craig.  Cecil County Commissioner President Jim Mullin echoed those remarks, adding, “the Upper Bay played an important role in our country’s second war with England, and our committee efforts will allow us to share that history with locals and visitors alike.”

Buy your flag from F.W. Haxel Flag Co. today!

“Marylanders are likely to become more aware of the upcoming War of 1812 bicentennial as these flags enter the marketplace,” said Bill Pencek, executive director of the Maryland War of 1812 Commission. “And, three institutions dedicated to preserving the legacy of the iconic Star-Spangled Banner – one of Maryland’s greatest contributions to the nation’s heritage – will receive assistance in advancing their missions.”

As one of the largest companies of its kind on the East Coast, F.W. Haxel designs, manufactures, and installs custom-made banners, flags and signs. To purchase flags, visit F.W. Haxel Flag Co.’s web site: www.fwhaxel.com/.

by Christine Hansen

The Baltimore Sun featured a nice story today on the Brewer’s Alley brew pub in Frederick who just started their own brewery, Monocacy Brewing Co., and craft breweries in Maryland – a niche that is seeing an uptick in business.

Over the summer, MDbizMedia visited craft brewers Tom Knorr of Evolution Craft Brewing Company,

and Bryan Brushmiller of Burley Oak Brewing Company, on the Eastern Shore.

DBED also sat down with longtime brewers and beer connoisseurs on the brew craft and its long-standing tradition in Maryland.

Do you have a favorite Maryland craft brew?