Another successful Carroll Biz Challenge has concluded, with healthcare company KnowME being awarded the first place prize, valued at over $23,000.
About the Carroll Biz Challenge
The Biz Challenge is an annual business competition showcasing the best and brightest talent in Carroll County. Organized by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by a variety of local businesses, the Carroll Biz Challenge is an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to share their ideas, get publicity, and have a chance to secure funding to expand their business.
The event is presented in a Shark Tank-like style, with a panel of judges listening to pitches about a wide array of business ideas and deciding which contestant would be awarded the money they need to grow their business. Each presentation was broken into two segments: one uninterrupted 5-minute period for the team to present their idea, then 7 minutes of (relatively) intense questioning by the judges. At the end of each section, the audience began clapping to signal that time was up.
This year, Josh Kohn of Kohn Creative joined the panel of judges and lends his unique experience with business, marketing, and more to the Carroll Biz Challenge. Thanks to all the judges for contributing their time and effort to making this such a great event! For information about the other judges who were also part of the Biz Challenge last year, see our blog post about the 2018 Carroll Biz Challenge.
47 entrepreneurs entered the Carroll Biz Challenge this year, which were slowly narrowed down to 5 finalists, who presented last night at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. The event has grown considerably since last year’s competition, with nearly twice as many entries.
Based in the TownMall in Westminster, the Battleground gaming lounge presents a “unique gaming experience.” Primarily targeting the teenage demographic of Carroll County, Battleground allows gamers to buy passes and play unlimited games in their state-of-the-art lounge equipped with dozens of gaming consoles, televisions, gaming chairs, and arcade games. The space also offers tournaments in popular games such as Fortnite.
During their presentation, the founders of Battleground placed a heavy emphasis on the community-strengthening aspect of their business, as well as the advantage it gives to both youth and parents and the much-needed traffic it brings to the mall. Battleground opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 22, 2019 and its creators shared some of the many plans they have for it during the Biz Challenge, including an after-school initiative.
One of the more technical entries to this year’s Biz Challenge, FishED is an invention for, as put by judge Josh Kohn, “saving the fish.” Powered by an innovative water funneling device, designed to be placed at the entry to dams and reservoirs, FishED slows the water current and gives fish a chance to swim out the side of the pipe before they are trapped. This both helps protect the local fish population and aquatic ecosystem and to reduce maintenance costs on filter grates and other devices that must regularly be cleaned.
The target investment group is government maintenance and environmental organizations, who could use the device to reduce maintenance costs and prevent the spread of invasive fish species from one waterway to another.
The next business, Codeland, sought to provide a solution to the deficiency of high-quality technology and programming education in Carroll County, especially for school-age children. They aim to provide a structured environment for students to learn at their own pace about a variety of logic and programming tasks through a set of coding puzzles. Mentors will also be available to aid students in the learning process.
The Drifting Dreamers
The Drifting Dreamers is a traveling van with a photo booth inside that can be booked for parties and other events. After photos are taken, they are sent directly to the customer’s phone – they can then share the photos on social media. They provide a unique touch to any event and can help raise awareness for your brand or event on social media. Customer information is also recorded and can be used by the event organizer to further market their business.
Last but not least, KnowME is a wearable electronic device to facilitate the communication of medical records – a doctor or paramedic can instantly access your medical information by tapping their phone against your wristband. This technology could be useful for many people, including the elderly, disabled, and children, as well as anyone who has difficulty remembering all of their prescriptions and other essential information.
The electronic format of the medical data stored by KnowME makes it easy to update and transmit from one place to another. The company will provide two packages at varying prices; one will allow customers to upload their own data and the other will take care of that step for patients. The device’s creator stated that it will save money for its customers due to the cost saved from fewer incorrect prescriptions and medical bills.
The grand prize this year was $5,000 in cash in addition to services from many of the sponsors with a value of thousands of dollars, including tech incubation meetings from MAGIC, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce membership, high-speed fiber internet from Ting, and marketing services from 127 Creative.
And the winner was (drumroll . . .) KnowME! After being awarded a ceremonial giant check by Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin, the founder of KnowME gave a speech about what he hopes to accomplish with the funding from winning the Carroll Biz Challenge this year.
Audience members also had the chance to vote via text for their favorite business idea – a live graph showed what percentage of the vote each presenter had. The Drifting Dreamers won the $1,000 People’s Choice Award.
Congratulations to KnowME, The Drifting Dreamers, and all the other contestants. The Carroll Biz Challenge was an incredible event and we can’t wait to see what business ideas are presented next year!