By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews
Gov. Martin O’Malley recognized four entrepreneurs on Thursday as part of the state’s first business pitch competition on Pinterest, the social networking site.
The businesses range from a middle school student who makes duct tape wallets to BeerGivr, a website that allows users to buy each other drinks remotely.
O’Malley lauded the entrepreneurial spirit behind each.
“The jobs that were here 20 years ago aren’t the jobs that are here today,” he said. “And the jobs that will be here 20 years from won’t be the jobs that are here today. There’s a constant need to hit the refresh button.”
BeerGivr took first place in its category, winning a MacBook Air donated by the Baltimore Angels, an angel investor network in the city, as well as promotion by the governor through his Pinterest page.
“If you want to say happy birthday, but you can’t make the party … you can send a drink,” explained Sean Kennedy, one of BeerGivr’s founders.
Users choose how much to spend on the beer, which is sent to the recipient via Twitter or text message. Participating bars then knock that much off the recipient’s tab.
Second place, and an iPad, went to Mission: Launch, a nonprofit run by Laurin Hodge that focuses on prisoner reentry programs. Plans call for a co-working space that would hold classes on different jobs skills and promote entrepreneurship.
Grady Booth, the student behind GB Wallets, won first place in the student entrepreneur category.
His wallets are in the back pockets of students and adults alike, and are sold by Fun for All! Toys in Annapolis.
Discreet Secrete Solutions, a wife-and-husband team that has developed a discrete, comfortable breast pump for working mothers, took second place in that category.
A panel of entrepreneurs and officials and academics charged with supporting the state’s business community offered contestants advice.
“It’s a lot cheaper to learn on someone else’s dime,” said Christian Johansson, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. “It’s a lot cheaper, if you’re a young entrepreneur, to join someone else’s startup and see how it’s done.”
Jason Hardebeck, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, urged the entrepreneurs to “always focus on the market and need” for their products.
And Elana Fine, associate director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, College Park, left them with a simple charge.
“Always be pitching,” she said.