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New online magazine seeks business success stories in Baltimore

Entrepreneurs Lauryn Sargent and Scott Thompson have launched Origin Stories, a free weekly online publication dedicated to the histories of "the superheroes of business." And the D.C. business partners are looking for business success stories in Greater Baltimore.

Origin Stories highlights stories about a company's founding days and is featuring companies from around the country, says Thompson, who grew up in Rockville. Thompson says he will be speaking to organizations in Baltimore in the next month.

Each issue of Origin Stories is delivered via email and is designed to give entrepreneurs a mental boost when they need it most.

"It says, 'Here's the struggle, and here's the payout or the success,'" Sargent explains. In a nod to the comic book theme, publications are numbered. The most recent looks at the origin of Domino's Pizza combines pithy text blocks with bold colors and iconic images. "[The stories are] reminders that it's tough now, but there is a payoff to what you're doing."
 
Sargent credits her company's summer intern for Origin Stories' memorable design. "They are visually attractive and they promote our brand. And, she explains, referencing the motivational aspect of the product, "we wanted to give something back to the startup community."
 
The digital one-sheeters are a natural outgrowth of Sargent and Thompson's two sister companies, which create personal and corporate histories for clients nationwide.  On the personal side, Stories Inherited interviews, researches and works to capture a personal legacy. Sargent and Thompson and a team of historians weave narratives around photos, film footage and oral histories, often taking advantage of the multimedia format of e-books to allow a subject's voice to be passed on to future generations.
 
"We offer a spectrum of products," Sargent explains. A full-service product includes historian-conducted interviews. "If you do the interviews yourself—we'll give you a framework—we can help with editing and printing." 
 
Stories Incorporated evolved from Stories Inherited. "It's corporate storytelling," she says. "We interview between 10 and 30 past and current employees and the founders to tell [a company's] story and show progression." In addition to being a terrific artifact, the result can be used as a marketing tool for prospective employees or an onboarding tool for new hires. "We interviewed 30 employees at New Light Technologies in D.C.," Sargent says, "and created 20 videos about the industry, the evolution of the company, and so on."
 

Writer: Allyson Jacob 
Source: Lauryn Sargent and Scott Thompson

New York nonprofit promoting Preakness with entertainment and lifestyle website

America’s Best Racing promoted the 138th Preakness Stakes held May 18 at Pimlico Race Course on its new website featuring fashion, food, celebrities, gambling and insiders' tips. The site focuses on the horseracing lifestyle and competition.

New York nonprofit Jockey Club launched America’s Best Racing last year and is funding it with $10 million over the next five years.
 
The website is part of a multimedia platform designed to build awareness of thoroughbred horse racing and to pique public interest in the sport, especially among young adults, according to Jason Wilson, vice president of business development of The Jockey Club.
 
“The sport historically has not been promoted on a national basis in a coordinated way. America’s Best Racing is a recognition that help was needed and how we could fill the void,” Wilson says.

To promote specific races, a tour bus with America’s Best “ambassadors” arrives in cities to give interviews and generate excitement for upcoming events. A tour bus arrived in Baltimore earlier this week with staffers and video crews, and will be on the track for Saturday's race.
 
“We want to get the flavor of what’s going on at the Preakness,” he says.
 
Besides the website, America’s Best has hired a communications director to generate stories about the sport and specific races on TV, radio and social media outlets. The platform produces TV programming and distributes videos through the internet taken at race events.
 
America’s Best is also looking into making an application and games. “We have a game in development and we are looking for people who have existing games about horse racing,” says Wilson.
 
Founded in 1894 as a nonprofit, the Jockey Club oversees registration of thoroughbreds nationwide and supports thoroughbred racing on a national level. The club’s vice chairman is Stuart Janney III, who is active in Maryland racing and co-owns the Kentucky Derby winner, Orb. Kevin Plank, founder of the Baltimore firm Under Armour Inc, is a member of the club.
 
The Jockey Club has no connection to the Maryland Jockey Club, which is affiliated with the Stronach Group and runs Pimlico and other racing properties, Wilson says.
 
The Jockey Club launched America’s Best in response to a study it commissioned. The study showed a declining interest in thoroughbred horse racing, and the impression that it was a sport for the elite.
 
“We decided to get the word out about racing, that it’s for a mainstream audience,” Wilson says. “We are focused on having the next generation get into the sport.”
 
Source: Jason Wilson, The Jockey Club
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WBAL-TV is bringing mobile TV to Baltimore

Baltimore news station WBAL-TV recently signed an agreement with New Jersey's Dyle mobile TV to bring live broadcast programming to viewers who want to watch news and other programs on their cell phones. The move will help the local NBC affiliate expand its reach and stay ahead of the competition with new technologies. 

Roger Keating, senior vice president of digital media for WBAL parent Hearst Television Inc., says the technology will be available by the end of this year. 

Dyle mobile TV operates through a receiver accessory, sold for $84.98 on Amazon.com and other outlets. The accessory, about the size of a matchbox, has an antennae. It plugs into a smart phone or tablet, turning it into a television. Dyle technology is available now for iPhones and will be ready for Android devices in a few months.

“The worst case scenario is that it wouldn't begin until the end of this year,” Keating says. The timeframe depends on the engineering work, like upgrading WBAL's transmission tower, that is needed to implement mobile TV.

Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL-TV, calls Dyle mobile TV the "next step" in television technology. "The intent is to build another product for our consumers," he says.

"We are trying to build a network in a market. Maybe there will be other TV networks in Baltimore that will have [mobile TV] in the future."

Indeed at least one already has. Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. said earlier this month that it is doing so in 10 of its stations, including WBFF Fox 45, in the next six months.

Mobile Content Ventures, a partnership of 12 major broadcast companies, operates Dyle mobile TV. Keating says Hearst TV already transmits the Dyle service to three of its stations, in Cincinnati, Greenville, S.C.; and Orlando, Fla.

 
Sources: Roger Keating, Hearst TV; Dan Joerres, WBAL-TV
Writer: Barbara Pash

Interactive marketing firm idfive relocates to larger office in Hampden

Interactive marketing and design agency idfive LLC moved its office from downtown to Hampden’s Meadowmill complex this year to accommodate its growing staff.
 
The company will hire four people by the end of the year, in sales, business development and design, and hired three shortly after the move. The company currently employs 16.
 
Andres Zapata, executive vice president of strategy, says idfive left a 3,200-square-foot office on East Redwood Street for a 3,700-square foot office at 3600 Clipper Mill Road. The company has use of a common conference room and facilities.
 
“We were out of space” downtown, he says. “It doesn’t sound like that much difference in square feet but the way the [Meadowmill] office is configured, we have more work space.”
 
The location offers free parking and is close to the Woodberry Light Rail, Zapata says. Zapata says idfive is making the office more eco-friendly by installing two large skylights in the roof. The skylights will bring in more natural light and reduce energy consumption.
 
Founded in 2005, idfive provides web design, social media and traditional advertising with a focus on higher educational institutions and nonprofits. Revenue was in the $5 million to $10 million range last year.
 
Last month, idfive published a book on higher education marketing. The book can be downloaded free through May. “University X: How to Rescue a College Brand from Bland” was written by Zapata, chief creative officer Sean Carton and marketing director Peter Meacham, and edited by creative director Matt McDermott.
 
After May, the book will be sold via Amazon and Google Play, with paperbacks and an iBook coming out as well. The paperback will be priced at $14.95; the digital versions, $6.99.
 
Source: Andres Zapata, idfive LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

New Hampden marketing company seeking education industry clients

Recently formed marketing company Kalix Communications LLC is going after independent schools, education and corporate clients.
 
The company has already landed two clients in the educational field. One is Notre Dame Preparatory School, a Catholic middle-high school in Towson, for which Kalix created a social media marketing campaign. It also bought radio ads and conducted market research on behalf of the school.
 
Kalix is also working with two divisions at Towson University. It conducted social media training for Towson’s Center for Professional Study’s clients, and formulated a social media strategy for Towson’s Division of Innovation and Applied Research.
 
Kalix partner and president Jonathan Oleisky formerly headed Media 924, a social media consulting firm. Ruth Eve, Kalix partner and executive vice president, was formerly vice president at Green and Associates, a media buying agency.
 
“Baltimore has many strong marketing agencies. Our challenge is how we differentiate ourselves,” says Oleisky.
 
He says Kalix has chosen to do so by subcontracting with 12 “strategic partners,” senior-level executives who are assigned to teams depending on clients’ requests, and by having a flexible fee structure, from retainer to project-based.
 
Oleisky says Kalix focuses on brand development, creative direction, social media strategy and implementation, media buying and planning and public relations. Besides the two educational institutions, Kalix’s clients include Consolidated Insurance Center, Prezmed and My Directive.
 
The privately financed Kalix launched its website this week. Oleisky projects first year sales of $500,000 to $750,000 and, based on that projection, expects to hire two to three staffers in project management and account services later this year.
 
Source: Jonathan Oleisky, Kalix Communications LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Adventure Web Productions Buys Rival

Adventure Web Productions has expanded its client base with the acquisition earlier this year of 18 Visions Design in Frederick for an undisclosed sum in cash.

The Catonsville web development and internet marketing company is taking over 18 Visions' 60 clients, says Adventure Vice President Charlie Strouse, who mentions the Maryland Symphony Orchestra as the largest of its clients. 

Strouse says Adventure had more than 1,000 clients before buying 18 Visions Designs, a web design firm whose work was similar to that of Adventure’s. Among Adventure's clients are BGE Home; Japanese firm Capcom; and Hunt Valley's Dunbar Armored.

Adventure is maintaining 18 Visions' name, adding "An Adventure Web Company" to the title, and keeping 18 Visions' office in Frederick. It hired a separate, five-person sales staff that is located in the Frederick office. 
 
18 Visions Design was Adventure’s first acquisition but not its last. Strouse says the company is interested in buying other small web development companies, and they don’t have to be Maryland-based. He says acquisitions allow Adventure to offer its services via multiple companies and to create value for them.
 
Founded in 1997, Adventure is privately-owned. It has a staff of 25, and is looking to hire a PHP web developer. 

The City of Baltimore this year hired Adventure to design Star Spangled 200, the official website of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Several events were held at the Inner Harbor and around the state from June 13 to 19. The website launched in May and remains active because of the ongoing sale of commemorative coins and to announce upcoming events. It links to several civic and nonprofit organizations.  
 
Strouse says Adventure has recently begun offering two new services to clients. One service is developing applications and mobile websites for clients with, for example, personal notifications of upcoming events, special deals and/or personalized information.
 
Another service is managing social media campaigns for clients. This involves writing and aggregating blogs and posting to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media. 
 
Source: Charles Strouse, Adventure Web Productions
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 

WYPR Radio Series Explores Race and Inequality

Inequalities in housing, employment and education in the Baltimore metro area are the subject of a new radio series on WYPR FM 88.1. “Lines Between Us” kicked off Sept. 28 on the National Public Radio affiliate and will continue weekly for a year.
 
The series has a companion website that is the public's portal to the “landscape of inequality” in Baltimore neighborhoods, says Lawrence Lanahan, senior producer of “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast." Segments of the series air every Friday between 9 to 10 a.m. on this program. 
 
“We want listeners to tell us their stories, either written, video or audio," to be featured on the website, Lanahan says. He notes that each segment will delve into a topic like how many people in a neighborhood don't have jobs and how long they've been unemployed, how many graduated from high school and how many own their homes or rent. 
 
Lanahan says the series is a first for “Maryland Morning” but not for WYPR, which ran a “Growing Up Baltimore” series and accompanying website through the news department. From the program’s perspective, he is hoping to reach elected officials, government officials and community members.
 
The University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute, the research arm of the Merrick School of Business, is providing the data and maps on which the series and website are based.
 
Seema Iyer, associate director and research assistant professor at the institute, says it has been collecting data and issuing annual reports on race and inequalities in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County for about a decade. This year Provost Joseph Wood initiated a series of activities for the university community that focused on the reports.
 
After WYPR approached the university, “it made sense to partner with them,” Iyer says. “Data is only as good as the number of people who use and understand it. We see it as a way to get our data to their audience, which is much larger than ours.”
 
Moreover, Iyer says the radio series gives the data a new, personal dimension. “The stories you can tell in an arena like WYPR give a different perspective to the data,” she says. “For us, it’s a great opportunity.”
 
 
Sources: Seema Iyer, University of Baltimore; Lawrence Lanahan, National Public Radio WYPR.FM
Writer: Barbara Pash
 





Marketing Firm Planit Lands Canadian Client, Hires New Staff

Baltimore advertising and marketing firm Planit has landed a new client in residential construction and has hired two new staffers with expertise in that area. Planit is offering branding expertise and website redesign for Royal Building Products.
 
Royal Building Products is the market leader in Canada for siding products and the division is expanding into the U.S. market following the acquisition of an Ohio-based siding manufacturer. Planit’s Executive Creative Strategist and Co-founder Ed Callahan says the firm competed with two other national companies for the contract, which was signed last month.
  
Royal Building Products produces everything from raw materials to finished products for the home building industry. Planit is introducing the company's brand and product line into the American home building marketplace, a projected $10.2 billion industry by 2016, for both builders and consumers. Planit has started working on a campaign to launch its new products in the U.S. market at the Las Vegas International Builder’s Show in January 2013.
 
Callahan says that Planit has added six major new clients, including Royal Building Products, since January 2012. Among the new clients are record company Def Jam; AGCO, a global agricultural company; and Sun of Italy, a Baltimore-based Italian food products manufacturer. 

The agency has also added 20 new staffers since January, including two new employees with expertise in the building product industry, for a total of 55 employees. Planit still has seven positions open, in social media, web application, interactive design and account managment.
 
Source: Ed Callahan, Planit
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnnews@bmoremedia.com
 
 
 

Filmmakers Wanted for Movie Contest

The 29 Days Later Film Project is accepting entries through Wed. July 11 for its Baltimore-based filmmakers' competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners, whose films will be screened on August 21 and 22 at the Creative Alliance. The screenings are open to the public for this fourth annual event.

Anyone can enter, amateur or professional. The fee is $75 per team. Dean Storm, who cofounded the project with Dawn Campbell, says 27 teams, ranging from one person to a dozen people, have entered to date. Teams are mostly from Maryland, and especially Baltimore, but a few are from Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The kickoff for the project will be held July 11 at the Creative Alliance in Patterson Park. The teams then have 29 days, to August 9, to shoot and edit a four-to-eight-minute-long film on any topic of their choice. The one proviso is that they use a prop that will be given out at the kickoff event. Storm says that even he does not know what the prop is until that night. Everyone gets the same prop that, in past years, have included a pinwheel and a kitchen timer.

The films can be dramas, comedies, documenaries or animation. A panel of three judges will decide the winners. The winner of each day's screening will receive $150. There is also a grand prize of $500. Filmmakers retain the rights to their films.

Source: Dean Storm, 29 Days Later Film Project
Writer: Barbara Pash


New iPad Magazine Celebrates Small Spaces

Imagine a German architect colliding with Charm City’s design sensibilities.  
 
That’s exactly what Daryl Landy did when naming his new iPad magazine Rohous.
 
Yes, the name is a take on Baltimore’s ubiquitous rowhouses. Now you see what we mean? There's even a bar over the first O. 
 
Though the magazine launched this month, it’s been at least 10 years in the making – obviously long before the launch of the iPad, Landy says.
 
The former director of Pigtown Main Street Street, who holds a masters degree in industrial design, says he has always been interested in home furnishings and architecture and living well in small spaces. Rohous highlights homes and businesses that contain less than 1,200 square feet.
 
“I never understood why people had to have 5,000 square feet and they use just two rooms,” Landy says. “I just thought it was a lot of waste.”
 
Landy himself renovated his 1,100-square-foot Pigtown rowhouse.
 
The magazine will feature small spaces around the world, not just in Smalltimore. The debut issue highlights homes in Paris, Amsterdam, Marrakech and Barcelona. Rohous takes a look at smaller restaurants as well.
 
A 12-month subscription costs $9.99 for the first 1,000 subscribers. Thereafter, it costs $12.00. It’s available on the iPad and soon, on other tablets. You can read it on your desktop and laptop as well.
 
“It seems like the timing is perfect,” Landy says of the new magazine. “We’ve been seeing a lot of things about people who are forced to downsize.”
 
Writer: Julekha Dash; julekha@bmoremedia.com
Source: Daryl Landy, Rohous
 

Bmore Fail Conference Highlights Risk Taking

It would be hard to find a more unlikely theme but, nonetheless, the gb.tc (formerly, Greater Baltimore Technology Council) is hosting its first local “fail conference,” officially titled Bmore Fail.
 
The event takes place on Fri. April 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at an indoor soccer field, the Clarence Du Burns Area, 1301 South Elmwood Ave., Baltimore.
 
“The idea is to create an environment where risk-taking is okay and safe to do,” says Sharon Paley of gb.tc. “To succeed in business, you have to be prepared to fail.”
 
Bmore Fail welcomes entrepreneurs, investors, developers, designers, students, artists and others in the innovation and creative communities. Activities for “communal sharing” include a “failure wall,” where attendees can write about their personal experiences, and a “fail off,” where stories of failure and redemption will be told and the audience will vote.
 
“We’re saying, ‘This happens to everyone,’ so let’s come together and learn from each other’s mistakes,” says Paley, who expects 300 people to attend Bmore Fail.
 
The agenda is still tentative. There will be speakers, question-and-answer periods, breaks and a performance by the Baltimore Improv Group.
 
Talks will be on: “Virtues of Failure” by Ron Schmelzer, Bizelo; “Psychology of Fear of Failure” by Dr. Daniel Wagner, clinical psychologist; “Extreme Consequences” by Joe Bocuzzi, airline safety expert, and Dr. Paul Foster, GBMC; “Taking the Plunge” by Tracy Gosson; “Capital Failure” by Rob Rosenbaum, TEDCO; “Security Failure” by Hart Rossman, Cyber Security Services & Solutions at SAIC; “Learn to Fail” by Andrew Coy and Pat O’Shea; and “Peaks and Valleys” by Bryan Sivak, CIO for State of Maryland.
 

 
Source: Sharon Paley of gb.tc
Writer: Barbara Pash

Tax Credits Spur Thousands of Film Jobs

Film production in Maryland has increased thanks to $7.5 million in tax credits. Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, part of the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development, credits legislation that went into effect this year with attracting new productions.

Gerbes listed productions that were or will be filmed in the state this year. They are Season 1 and 2 of the HBO series, “Veep;” the Netflix series, “House of Cards;”  the HBO original movie, "Game Change;" and two independent films, one of which is "Jamesy Boy,” which was scheduled to begin filming in Baltimore last month.

He calculated the economic impact to the state of these productions to be nearly $200 million, and to result in approximately 5,500 jobs. For example, the economic impact of "Jamesy Boy" is estimated at $5 million and 400 new jobs for crew, actors and extras.

In 2010, the film office had funding of $1 million in tax credits. In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation that, beginning in 2012, increased funding to up to $7.5 million in tax credits for each of the next three years. “This is the most funds we’ve ever had to attract productions,” he says.

The law stipulates that the production company must spend at least $500,000 in direct production costs in the state to be eligible for 25 to 27 percent tax credit.

With 45 states offering incentives, Gerbes says the funding enables Maryland to compete effectively for production companies. “Producers used to ask me, ‘Do you have the location and crew?’ Now they ask, ‘What’s the incentive program?’” he says.

“Producers still want you to have the right locations,” says Gerbes. “We actively market that we are near Washington, D.C.”

Source: Jack Gerbes, director, Maryland Film Office
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 

Political Software Company Prepares for Election Season

The Republican Party primaries kicked off the 2012 election season. State and local campaigns will soon follow and when they do, CampaignOn is ready. Officially launching next month, the campaign management company offers a software package and professional services to candidates who are running for office and incumbents who are seeking re-election.
 
Company President Herbert Sweren says four candidates – in state, county and legislative races – have already committed to CampaignOn, although he declines to name them until they formally declare for office.
 
CampaignOn is a joint venture with Weiss PR Associates. In addition to Sweren, the company’s team includes Barry Silverman, Weiss PR managing partner; Dennis Rasmussen, former Maryland State Senator and Delegate and former Baltimore County Executive; and Robert Infussi, Jr. All have extensive experience in political campaigns.
 
The company’s software package is tailored to the candidate and his or her voting district. Professional services range from marketing and public relations to brand creation and donor/volunteer letters. The company works with candidates of all parties.
 
“Campaigns find it challenging to know where to go to get these services and then pay for each separately. We have it all in one package,” says Sweren.
 
CampaignOn’s pricing varies. “A gubernatorial race will be more expensive than a county council race. There’s more work state-wide versus local,” says Sweren, adding, though, that the aim is to make the pricing within the means of the campaigns’ fund-raising.
 
CampaignOn currently has two interns from Towson University. More may be added as the election season progresses.
 
Source: Herbert Sweren, CampaignOn
Writer: Barbara Pash

Clapp Communications Expanding Office

Clapp Communications is having a busy spring. The Lutherville marketing agency is moving to a larger office, adding new clients and employees. 

The company has added several new clients to its roster, including the Milton Inn. The agency will handle branding, social media and graphic design for the historic Sparks restaurant. To keep up with the influx of new work, Clapp Communications added two employees in February and will add more staff in early March.

Formerly known as Barb Clapp Advertising & Marketing, the company decided on a name change in November as it celebrated its 10th anniversary. The name change was intended to better reflect the firm's current purpose. Along with the name change has come expansion for the company, both here in Greater Baltimore and in a new market. The firm is expanding its Lutherville office next month. In November, it added a second office in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source Colleen Riopko, Barb Clapp; Clapp Communications 

Render Perfect Changes Focus

Render Perfect Productions Inc. is changing its focus from straight video production for businesses and individuals to full service media and website production. The Towson based will now offer media production, web design and web marketing services instead of just video production.

“We have shifted our services from video production to value-added video production,” says Nikc Miller, director of post production at Render Perfect Productions. “This means that instead of simply doing video for those groups that need it, we pay attention to our clients goals and create a strategy for their video so they can get more sales. This involves getting their video more exposure via landing pages, social media, Google ad buys, whatever.”

Render Perfect is still offering video production services, but has added several services to its menu. The company is promoting video landing pages for websites, Facebook pages and other online use. The web design team has the capacity to do website coding in HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, Flash, JavaScript, jQuery, and more. The website marketing arm offers branding, search engine optimization and social media management. The company has been ramping up its service offerings for the last 12 months to complete a transformation from strict video production to a media and marketing shop.


Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Nikc Miller, Render Perfect Productions Inc.
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