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Meal delivery services expands to Baltimore

Power Supply, a fresh meal delivery service that puts paleo food in the hands of the people at Crossfit gyms, has joined forces with Mindful Chef, a similar business that focuses on serving the yoga community.

The combined companies will run under the Power Supply name and will serve 44 locations in Maryland and Virginia, including Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Annapolis and Alexandria. According to Robert Morton, cofounder of Power Supply, the merger will bring new flavors and new drop-off locations. In Greater Baltimore, Power Supply serves South Baltimore Crossfit, Crossfit Revamped in Columbia and Crossfit BWI in Glen Burnie. 
 
Before starting Mindful Chef, co-founder Jeff Kelley ran a food truck called Eat Wonky. Morton says that Kelley's lessons from the food truck industry, combined with the audience Mindful Chef serves and the foundations of the business, made the merger a good fit. 
 
A new ordering system that allows users to manage multiple orders was just rolled out. For example, let's say Fred is set up with five extra-large lunches and dinners per week in the system, and Wilma is set up with three regular lunches. Both are on the same account as recurring subscriptions. But if Fred goes to Slate Construction's annual retreat out of town and needs to stop his meals for the week, Wilma can still get hers. 
 
Morton says that the companies are "still working on bringing their [supply] lines together"; in the fall he anticipates users will be able to choose from classic paleo meals, a paleo-inspired "middle of the road" option, vegetarian fare and potential third-party lines that can be "built as a subscription under us. It will be easy for customers to access a fellow local company that fits with what we want to offer." There is no word yet on which companies might be offered.

Writer: Allyson Jacob
Source: Robert Morton, Power Supply

Towson startup builds a better bridge inspection system

Towson engineering startup Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC is going after its first round of angel funding of $115,000 by the middle of this year. The startup will seek to close on its second funding round of $500,000 by the end of the year. The company's goal is to have raised $1.3 million by early next year, primarily from investors and loans and, possibly, its first product. 
 
Founder and Owner Tom Greene, says the money will be used to produce aesir, a computer system intended to replace existing bridge inspection equipment. By 2015, he plans to produce another four aesirs.
 
The aesir system will contain three-dimensional, ground-penetrating radar, laser profiling and digital imaging. The system will be mounted on top of a van that is driven on or under a bridge. Scanning the bridge in a 3-D format allows the inspector to find defects below the surface, where deterioration typically starts.
 
The system’s data will then be analyzed to pinpoint where and what the problems are, and to compare it with previous bridge inspections for rate of deterioration.
 
Greene says technology like 3-D and lasers already exists, and aesir will integrate it into a single system. A Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPs) grant for more than $400,000 is funding development of the system Greene says.
 
There are more than 600,000 bridges in the US, of which about 159,000 are in urban locations. The bridges must be inspected annually or every two years depending under whose jurisdiction – local, state or federal – they fall.
 
Greene expects to price the aesir, which can be used multiple times, at about $400,000. He will initially market it to government agencies and, subsequently, to engineering firms that are often hired to inspect bridges.
 
“The infrastructure is aging while the traffic is increasing. You have the same number of bridges from the 1970s but traffic volume is six times greater and trucks are much bigger,” he says.
 
Greene founded Sustainable Infrastructure in 2011. A year later, the company moved into the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator at Towson University. The company has a staff of three.
 
“Aesir has potential use in tunnels but right now we’re focusing on bridges,” he says.
 
Source: Tom Greene, Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 

Jessup IT firm ClearEdge hiring 25

ClearEdge IT Solutions LLC, a woman-owned tech firm in Jessup, is hiring 25 software engineers and cloud computing experts to join the 75-person firm by the fall. The company, which specializes in cloud computing and data analysis, moved to a new, larger headquarters in Howard County.

The move is part of an overall restructuring process that will enable the company to compete for more and larger defense contracts, Executive Strategist Nikolas Acheson says.  “We are reorganizing to maximize our abilities, and positioning ourselves for the future,” he says. “We are ramping up to compete as we move from a small to a large company.”
 
ClearEdge IT was founded in 2002. The company is currently valued at about $20 million and anticipates growing by 20 percent per year for the next five years, says Acheson. “The area of computer science that we support is expanding. Customers are looking for efficiencies, to implement new technologies and that’s where we come in."
 
Last year, ClearEdge IT left a leased building in Anne Arundel County to buy and renovate an existing two-story, 36,000-square-foot building in Jessup. Part of the staff works from new headquarters while others work on-site for federal and private customers. Acheson says its main customer is the intelligence community within the Department of Defense, as well as private customers in the defense community
 
The move also allows ClearEdgeIT to expand its certification classes in big data and cloud computing programs like Hadoop and jQuery at its Distributed Computing Center of Excellence. The company founded the center less than a year ago and currently enrolls over 100 students.
 
Classes are open to anyone. Fees range from about $1,700 for a two-day course to $495 for a several-hour course. With the move, Acheson says the company will focus on partnering with its customers to offer training and certification for their employees. A fee structure is in the works. Certification will be offered either within the particular company or to industry-wide standards.
 
“We intend to double, even triple, enrollment and the number of offerings within the next 18 months,” he says.
 
Source: Nikolas Acheson, ClearEdge IT Solutions
Writer: Barbara Pash

Hiring to begin in the spring for construction jobs at Sparrows Point

Baltimore County closed reservations for an information session last week about upcoming jobs and contracting opportunities at Sparrows Point Shipyard and Industrial Park when demand overwhelmed the room’s capacity.

Due to high interest in the 100 jobs and an unspecified number of subcontractors for which SKW Constructors will begin hiring this spring, county officials are holding additional information sessions for job seekers in March and April. Reservations must be made in advance through the Maryland Workforce Exchange.
 
Based in Virginia Beach, Va., SKW Constructors has a contract with the state of Virginia for the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels project. SKW Constructors is a consortium of Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc., Kiewit Infrastructure Co. and Weeks Marine Inc.
 
SKW Constructors’ spokeswoman Jessica Murray says hiring will begin this spring and continue as the project progresses.
Murray says SKW Contractors is hiring the following positions: carpenters, concrete finishers, electricians, laborers, mechanics, reinforcing ironworkers, structural ironworkers, surveyors and truck drivers. The company will provide on-the-job training for carpenters, concrete finishers, reinforcing and structural ironworkers, and surveying.

The project is expected to take five years total, about half of that time in Sparrows Point and the other half in Virginia. 
 
“It’s a huge project,” says Murray of the construction of a tunnel and other transportation-related construction in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She says Sparrows Point was chosen for the first half of the project because “the old factory works great for us.”

According to Leila Rice, public affairs manager of Elizabeth River Crossing, Sparrows Point was chosen because "it was the closest proximity on the East Coast [that had the capability] of making tunnel sections the size we needed."

Elizabeth River Crossing is overseeing the Elizabeth River Tunnels project and other transportation-related work such as a highway extension and repair of another tunnel. Rice expects the project to be completed by 2018, after which her company will operate and maintain the tunnels.
 
At Sparrows Point, workers will pour and manufacture concrete tunnel sections. When finished, they will be floated to Norfolk, Va., and installed next to the existing but congested almost one-mile-long tunnel that runs under the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. The two tunnels will each become one way.
 
SKW Constructors has already spent $5 million on 57 Baltimore area subcontractors to prepare Sparrows Point for making the tunnel sections. 
 
Helga Weschke, chief of the division of business development in the Baltimore County department of economic development, says SKW Constructors will have an on-the-job training program for apprentices. For subcontractors, she says it is seeking in particular minority- and women-owned companies and small businesses in order to reach goals to qualify for federal funding.
 
“If they fall into one of the three categories, they have to go through the Virginia certification process even if they have Maryland certification,” says Weschke.
 
Sources: Jessica Murray, SKW Contractors; Helga Weschke, Baltimore County department of economic development; Leila Rice, Elizabeth River Crossing
Writer: Barbara Pash



Habitat for Humanity embarks on $8.5M home ownership project

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake this year is investing in a $8.5 million project to jumpstart home ownership in three Baltimore low-income neighborhoods.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation gave the nonprofit a $1 million grant over two years, the biggest grant the foundation has given Habitat, CEO Mike Posko says. The project will be completed in 2015.

Habitat bought 56 properties in Woodbourne-McCabe, Mount Winans and Washington Village-Pigtown. Of the properties, 53 will be renovated and three will be demolished for recreational parks in each of the neighborhoods.
 
Posko says most of the properties were vacant. Habitat bought them in auctions and from the city for a range of $3,000 to $18,000 per house. The average house is 1,500 square feet in size. The parks’ sizes will vary in size. Habitat has worked in these three neighborhoods before and may do so after this project is done.
 
On average, it takes eight months to complete the rehab of a single house. Because of the Weinberg grant, Habitat can finish the project in two years. 

The $8.5 million figure covers construction only. It does not include volunteer time or family services that will be offered to future homeowners. It also does not include the purchase price of the properties.
 
Habitat is looking for other funding partners for the project, including private donors, corporations and other foundations. Among the donors that have already committed to the project are General Motors Corp., Orokawa Foundation Inc. and Parks and People Foundation, the latter two in Baltimore.
 
Posko says that part of the funding will come from the buyers’ mortgages. Habitat no-interest mortgages range from $125,000 to $150,000. “The price is determined by the family’s income. We give them a mortgage they can succeed with,” he says.
 
While much rehabbing is done by volunteers and the future homeowners, certain jobs require certified workers. “The project provides employment for the trade industry – plumbing, electric, heating/air conditioning installation, duct work, masonry, roofers,” says Posko.
 
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is a Baltimore County-based $2 billion international foundation with annual grant-making of around $100 million. Amy Kleine, program director, says that addressing homelessness and homeownership for low-income residents of the city is a priority.
 
“The board approved the grant because the project will have a successful impact on three neighborhoods,” says Kleine. “We know that when Habitat rehabs homes, it has a ripple effect. We’re hoping to see that happen” in this project.
 
Kleine added that several former residents of homeless shelters that the Weinberg Foundation supports have gone on to become Habitat homeowners. “Homeownership is not feasible for this population without Habitat,” she says.
  
Sources: Mike Posko, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake; Amy Kleine, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 

Baltimore nonprofit preps for Obamacare with new primary health care clinic

Baltimore nonprofit Institutes for Behavior Resources will open a new clinic this summer to provide primary health care services to substance abusers and their families, with $1.4 million in funding from state and foundation grants. 

It is part of the state’s efforts to have services in place by the time the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is fully implemented in 2014. 

The nonprofit is using the grants to renovate the institute’s 1920s era, six-story building at 2104 Maryland Ave. in Charles Village and to open the clinic on the currently vacant fourth floor. The institute's COO Reid Blank says he expects the clinic renovation to be finished by next month with an official opening in July. Blank says it is looking to hire eight to 10 employees for the health care clinic, including nurses, counselors, receptionist and part-time physicians to add to its staff of 40. 

The nonprofit will provide clinic patients and their families with screenings, tests and medical treatment as drug addicts may not have primary care physicians or get regular medical treatment.  The clinic will serve as a model for other states in preventive health care, a key tenet in Obamacare. In addition, the clinic will be available to patients at other substance abuse programs in Baltimore, such as Man Alive Inc.

"The grants enable us to expand services to patients and their families. Our patients have other health problems that are not always addressed, and that delays progress in treating their addiction," Blank says. 
 
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene contributed $898,000 to the project. Other funders are the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, $270,000; The Abell Foundation, $200,000; and France Merrick Foundation, $50,000. The institute is paying the remainder of the total $1.5 million project.
 
Besides its REACH program for substance abusers, the 51-year-old institute works with government agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Defense as well as commercial airlines, railroads, transit and trucking companies on the issue of fatigue.

Source: Reid Blank, Institutes for Behavior Resources
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Columbia analog chip startup signs deal with Silicon Valley company

Columbia startup MIE Labs Inc. has signed a strategic agreement with Silicon Valley semiconductor company JVD Inc. to share design and back-end resources. The agreement allows the Columbia firm to expand its services and gives it a physical presence on the West Coast.

MIE Labs provide analog and mixed-signal integrated circuit design services, primarily to businesses. Integrated circuits are a set of electronic circuits on one small chip of semiconductor material. Because of their size and low manufacturing cost, integrated circuits are used in virtually all electronics. MIE Labs works with customers to design and develop their analog chips in order to speed the manufacturing process.

“We help other companies develop their hardware. It is not our goal to develop our own chips,” says Chalfin of analog chips that are used in cellphones and smart phones, computers and radios.

As part of its agreement with JVD, MIE is designing the chips while the California firm is producing them, says CEO Edward Chalfin. 

"The agreement is a way for smallish companies to address bigger opportunities," Chalfin says.

Chalfin founded MIE Labs nine months ago. The serial entrepreneur sold his former company, Integrated Circuit Designs Inc., to Texas Instruments. As part of the deal, Chalfin stayed on with Texas Instruments until last year.
 
“I did okay but not enough to retire to the Caribbean,” says Chalfin of his sale of Integrated Circuit. He founded it in 1995 and grew it to a 16-person staff before selling to Texas Instruments in 2007. 
 
Chalfin expects to hear in early 2013 from potential customers to whom he has submitted proposals. Customers include electronic systems manufacturers and companies that design and develop digital circuits but don’t have experience in analog. 

MIE is an affiliate of the incubator, Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. Chalfin is the sole employee of the privately funded MIE. He is subcontracting with designers and vendors until contracts allow him to hire staffers.
 
Source: Edward Chalfin, MIE Labs Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

TowsonGlobal kicks off business plan competition

The incubator at Towson University, TowsonGlobal Business Incubation, recently kicked off its third annual business competition, open to anyone in the Baltimore-Washington area who has an innovative business idea. Winners get cash prizes and free incubator membership.
 
“The goal is to promote and engage people in the region in entrepreneurship and innovation, and in taking the route of starting a small business,” says Darlene Ugwa, the incubator’s program coordinator. “It doesn’t have to be a product. It could be a service.”
 
The competition has two rounds. In the first round, participants submit a three-to-five page executive summary of their idea. A panel of judges winnows the participants to five finalists. In the second round, the finalists submit a detailed business plan, including research, marketing and financials. A panel of judges determines first and second place winners.
 
The deadline for round one, the executive summary, is Feb. 11. Finalists in round two have until the end of April to submit their business plans. Winners will be announced May 1.
 
Although prizes for this year’s competition are still being determined, last year’s first prize winner received $4,000 and free incubator membership for a period of time; the second prize winner received $1,000 and an associate membership.
 
The competition has grown since it started. There were 12 submissions the first year; 24 submissions the second year. Entrants ranged from a video gaming company to a medical diagnostic application and a website to rent power tools.
 
Besides presenting their business plans to the panel of judges, all the finalists give a presentation at a Towson University reception open to the public. Over 100 people attended last year’s event.
 
Source: Darlene Ugwa, TowsonGlobal Business Incubation
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Engineering Firm Expands Headquarters, Markets, Staff

TAI Engineering is expanding its office this month as the consulting engineering and technical services firm plans to enter new markets and add employees.

The firm has built a 5,000-square foot addition to its 30,000-square foot headquarters in Owings Mills and is expanding into automation and control, plumbing and electrical and mechanical engineering. Alan Miller, TAI Engineering owner and principal director, says the company will also beef up its existing presence in geographical instrumentation and control. The company will hire up to six people in those fields.

Adam Soutar, TAI Engineering’s division manager for onsite services, says the company takes a "proactive" approach to hiring. It recruits experts in the markets to which it plans to expand and then uses the employees' expertise and contacts to help it grow.
  
Besides hiring for its own staff, the 175-person company places workers on behalf of clients, placing between 10 to 12 per year.
 
Some staff placements are for specific projects.  A client like CocaCola, for example, might need 30 people as they ramp up for a new project, says Laurie Giner, chief marketing officer.
 
Founded in 1989, TAI Engineering has several different in-house groups that design new industrial plants and commercial buildings; retrofit existing facilities; and support facilities with management and services.
 
“We can build an office building, to serve as the company’s headquarters, and a manufacturing plant for the company. We are capable of working in both areas,” says Miller, who notes that TAI Engineering has grown 10 to 12 percent per year in revenue over the last decade.

Recent client projects include engineering design for a 75,000-square foot LEED-certified “green” building for Raytheon Company, located in the technology and research park at Aberdeen Proving Ground; mechanical and electrical consulting for a LEED-award winning 125,000-square foot office building; and a 125,000-square foot COPT Cornerstone Offices building in Columbia, for which TAI Engineering won a best LEED commercial interior award.

TAI Engineering is privately funded, and has two satellite locations, in Linthicum and Newark, Del.
 
Sources: Alan Miller, Adam Soutar, Laurie Giner, TAI Engineering
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore BioWorks to Apply For Minority Business Certification

Baltimore BioWorks is in the process of applying for state certification as a Minority Business Enterprise that would allow the life sciences manufacturing and training firm to bid on state contracts that set aside a slice of business for minority- and women-owned companies.

John Powers, president, says the company will bid on contracts for manufacturing and distribution at health-related agencies and systems like the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the University of Maryland Medical System.

The company expects to sign a lease for a 14,000-square foot manufacturing and distribution facility at 1100 Wicomico St., Baltimore City next month, after which it will begin to make, sell and ship biomedical products and to offer toxicology testing services. Earlier this month, the life sciences company opened its headquarters in the University of Maryland BioPark, on its downtown campus, and located a few blocks from the distribution facility.

In addition to toxicology testing, BioWorks will manufacture its own line of common biomedical products and buy and sell other lines of supplies like latex gloves, says Powers, who co-founded the privately-owned company this year with Louise Dalton, at a cost of about $1 million, split between the founders and the Abell Foundation.

Besides state agencies, Powers expects BioWorks customers’ in the private sector to range from institutions like Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to biotechnology companies.

In addition to its own business ventures, BioWorks is providing training for workers in the biotech field. The company has a core staff of eight. Powers intends to add one full-time employee per month, or 12 employees per year, for ongoing, year-long vocational training. Trainees will be paid as they progress through a regimented program that covers all aspects of the field.

“It’s a paid position with benefits. It’s your first real job” in biotechnology, says Powers. “You can put it on your resume.”

Training positions are open to all qualified applicants although Powers is working in particular with the Baltimore City Community College Life Science Institute, which has an office at the UM BioPark. There will be an applicant review process, and graduates of the program will be given help finding a job.

However, the minority-focused training program is intended to be self-sustaining and depends on BioWorks’ sales. The company currently has $350,000 in annual sales but Powers says it is on track to reach the $1 million goal by the end of 2012 or early 2013.

The state Department of Transportation qualifies MBEs applicants; the Governor's Office of Minority Affairs administers the MBE requirements. The current goal is for about 25 percent of contracts in qualifying state agencies go to MBE companies.
 
Source: John Powers, Baltimore BioWorks
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 



Baltimore City Incubators Enroll New Companies

The Emerging Technology Centers at Canton and Johns Hopkins/Eastern enrolled three new companies in July. They are ADASHI, Canterbury Road Partners and Diagnostic Biochips. ADASHI offers a software platform to network emergency management systems. Canterbury Road Partners is a public/private partnership to help research institutions with technology transfer. Diagnostis Biochips is a life sciences company.
 
The ETCs have enrolled 18 companies in total since the beginning of the year and are on track to enroll 30 new tenants, its annual average, by the end of the year. That is according to Fulya Gursel, marketing manager for the Baltimore Development Corp.-led incubators. 
 
There are currently 27 tenants at the Canton incubator and 34 tenants at the Eastern incubator. In addition, the ETCs have 29 affiliates, which don’t occupy a physical space in the facilities but use their services.
 
Gursel says that as a technology incubator, the ETCs attract a variety of entrepreneurs, including software, hardware, mobile apps, life science and medical devices. Lately, the majority have been mobile apps and web solutions, she says. However, the incubators have programs that attract medical device/life science entrepreneurs as well.
 
 “We’re getting a lot of new, young start-ups by talented entrepreneurs who are passionate about their ideas," Gursel says. "It shows the strength of the Baltimore tech scene.”
 
Since 2012, the following new companies have joined the ETCs:
Right Source Marketing
Juxtopia/JUICE Lab
Mobile Tennis Training Tech LLC
Ark Science
Foodem.com
Rowdy Orbit
Graphtrack, Inc
Tame Social Mahem
Hoopla.com
NoBadGift.com
Bolster Labs
Linkletter
Pluck
Cruse Technologies LLC
Unbound Concepts LLC
Solar Systems Express
FUNR Gaming
Amplofi
Canterbury Road Partners
Adashi
Diagnostic Biochips
 
Source: Fulya Gursel, Emerging  Technology Centers
Writer: Barbara Pash
 


Digital Marketing Firm Moving to Bigger Digs in Columbia

Digital marketing firm WebMechanix  is moving from its current headquarters to a larger office next month, and expects to hire additional staff. 

The three-year-old company is leaving a 1,200-square foot townhouse in Ellicott City and moving to a 2,500-square-foot office in Howard County's Columbia, Partner Josh Mechanic says. He runs the company with his brother Chris Mechanic and cousin Arsham Mirshah, who founded the company in 2009; Josh joined a year later.

"We started out at a kitchen table," Mechanic says. Mirshah's father owned the townhouse and Chris and Arsham lived in it until the company began hiring employees and it was turned into the company headquarters in 2010.

 "We've been growing steadily and we have the financial stability to move to larger quarters," Mechanic says. "Our initial focus was on small businesses. But as we got more referrals, we started selling to bigger companies."

Mechanic says he had been looking for awhile for a suitable new home and found a "great deal" on a "great space." The company has a sublease until October 2014 on its new office. In fact, the relatively short sublease was one of its appeals. "We are not locked into a space for three to five years. We're not sure where we will be when the lease is up so this gives us flexibilty to move in the future," he says of a relocation that will cost WebMechanix $35,000 to $40,000.

Mechanic says the company’s sales have doubled every year since its founding, and projects more than $2 million in revenue this year. It has 40 clients for whom it does mobile, web, search, conversion and analytics as well as design development for new websites.
 
The company is also rolling out a new product, a digital marketing package that improves a company's website performance. It is priced so it's affordable to small businesses, from $800 to $2,250 per month, depending on the amount of work required. He says it usually takes three months to optimize the website, which is typically followed by ongoing marketing.

The company currently has 14 full-time employees plus four to five interns. It is moving into an office that accommodates about 25 full-time employees and within the next few months, is looking to fill a sales position, web developer and search engine optimization specialist and add five more interns.
 
He says the company constantly gets inquiries from college graduates about jobs. In response, it has a policy of taking on unpaid interns for 90 days, after which time they may be hired if the work is satisfactory.  
 
Source: Josh Mechanic, WebMechanix
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

IT Consulting Firm SITEC Moves Out of UMBC Incubator

IT firm SITEC Consulting relocated from the cybersecurity incubator at [email protected] Research & Technology Park to an office in Anne Arundel County last month.

The minority-owned company moved to Annapolis Junction, a business park, because of its proximity to customers at Fort Meade.
 
SITEC Consulting was founded in 2007 and was acquired in February of 2012 by Kevin Coby, who is president. Since then, he has made changes in management and location "to better serve our customers,” according to Lubna Sher, SITEC’s chief of staff.
 
SITEC Consulting is a business process automation consulting and IT firm for both federal and commercial markets.
 
Since its founding, SITEC Consulting has had a corporate office in Cambridge, a federally Historically Underutilized Business Zone, aka HUBZone, an incentive for federal contractors. Last year, it joined the UMBC incubator and has since grown its staff from 26 to 31, Sher says.
 
Sher says the company is maintaining its Cambridge office, and the two offices will share the staff. She says the company is in a “growth mode” and is looking to increase the number of employees as work progresses. Sher says additional staff would be in IT-related fields like software engineering, visualization, engineering services, and business analytics and support, its core competencies.
 
Source: Lubna Sher, SITEC Consulting
Writer: Barbara Pash



National Premium Beer Seeks New Markets

National Brewing Company is expanding production and moving into new markets for its craft beer National Premium after reviving the legendary Baltimore brand last year. 

Eastern Shore real estate agent Tim Miller founded the Easton company last year after buying the rights to the name and locating the recipe for the original beer. After going through several test batches, the beer went on sale in Maryland during Memorial Day weekend.
 
The company currently sells 2,000 cases per month in 500 liquor stores and bars in Maryland, says Miller, who is National Brewing's president. Miller's goal is to increase sales to 100,000 cases per year by the end of 2014 and to expand into restaurants as well. Next month, the beer is being introduced in Washington, D.C.
 
National Brewing Company has contracted with Coastal Brewery in Delaware to make the beer to its specifications. Coastal bottles and packages the beer for distribution. Because it does not have its own facility that requires investing in brewing space, equipment and warehouse that would be required, the company was privately financed for under $100,000, says Miller.
 
Matt Oczkowski, communications director of the four-person staff, says the company currently sells out its production. 
 
The company has a permit to sell beer in D.C. and is applying for permits to sell its product in Virginia, which it expects to obtain within the next three to five months, and in Delaware, within the next 12 to 15 months.
 
Oczkowski says the company intends to open its own brewery someday, possibly in Easton, although he did not have a timeframe for doing so. It also intends to broaden the variety of beer it makes beyond its current European-style pilsner.
 
“There is a boom in the craft beer industry. As fast as we are brewing it, we are selling out,” he says.
 
Sources: Tim Miller, Matt Oczkowski, National Brewing Company
Writer: Barbara Pash

Tech Campus Betamore To Open For Entrepreneurs, Incubators

By the end of the summer, entrepreneurs in the Baltimore metro area will have another place to call home. Betamore, “technology campus,” in the words of co-founder Mike Brenner, should be open by then. 

Brenner co-founded the privately-financed facility with Greg Cangialosi. They are in the midst of renovating an 8,000-square-foot shell at 1111 Light St., a new building in Federal Hill, into part incubator, part classroom and part co-working space. The facility will serve its members and the community at large. Membership applications will be available online next month.

Brenner says Betamore is the first incubator in the region, as far as he knows, that will also act as a classroom. In addition, the two founders bring a sizeable mentoring network that they have acquired by working in the city.

Both are well known in the Baltimore tech scene. Cangialosi's Blue Sky Factory, an email marketing and service provider, was bought in 2011, and he now serves as managing director of Baltimore Angel's and CEO of Nucleus Ventures, an investment vehicle. 

Brenner closed out his other ventures to focus on Betamore. These included Sunrise Design, a web consulting and design studio, and Startup Baltimore, a blog that was acquired in March of 2012 by a company in Philadelphia that plans to transform it into Technically Baltimore, an online publication covering technology. The company also puts out Technically Philly.

Brenner declined to discuss financing for the facility except to say that while it was private, the founders are actively looking for public support as well. He says they are not ready to announce the fees that will be charged for memberships at the incubator and community space. 

The facility will have two classrooms. It will offer classes on entrepreneurship and technology for people in the community at large who are interested in the topic. It will also offer six- to eight-week-long courses for people who are career-oriented and want more in-depth study. Brenner says fees for both classes and courses will be charged, the amounts still to be decided.  
 
In the dedicated incubator space, desks can be rented by the month. Brenner says that renters will have access to Betamore's mentor network, events and weekly happy hours. From early indications, he expects renters to be two- to eight-person teams, and to have 50 teams and “really early stage” companies in that space at any given time. He also expects many renters to be programmers.
 
Betamore will not take an equity stake in its renter-companies. Moreover, it will put a time limit, as yet undetermined, on how long they can rent, "to get a fire under their feet," he says.
 
The third space is a community space that, like a typical co-working space, is a social environment. It will be available for people who want to drop by the facility on an occasional basis, whether once a week or once a month. There will be a fee for the community space. 

"So far, we've gotten a lot of interest. Everyone wants to know when the doors open," says Brenner. "I'm hesitant to reveal too many details. We want to do a proper rollout when we're ready to open."

Source: Michael Brenner, Betamore
Writer: Barbara Pash
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