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Entrepreneurship Center's Second Annual 'Rise to the Challenge' Competition, May 1, Inspires Students, Alumni to 'Meet the Future'

April 25, 2014
Contact: University Relations
Phone: 410.837.5739

Four University of Baltimore students and four UB alumni have been named as finalists in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation's second annual "Rise to the Challenge" Pitch Competition, an opportunity to introduce their dreams for a business to an audience—including mentors, business leaders, and even those who might someday buy or sell their products and services. The competition, which features mentoring opportunities and cash prizes, will take place on Thursday, May 1 beginning at 5 p.m. in Wright Theater in the UB Student Center, 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required; details are listed below.

Out of 60 applicants, the field of eight were selected on the strength of their applications, which included a brief video presentation and an executive summary created by the applicant. Two basic categories—a new business idea, or an idea for existing business—were established for this year’s competition. "Rise to the Challenge" is organized by UB's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, part of the Merrick School of Business.

Various awards candidates will be presented during the competition, including a "crowd favorite." Total prize money to be awarded this year tops $6,000—triple what was given out last year. Another $9,000 in in-kind services will be handed out to the winners.

Johnetta Hardy, director of the center, said that in only its second year the competition has established itself as both a source for potential funding and an outlet for something even more important: mentoring. Each finalist, Hardy said, spends time sharing ideas and approaches with specially-selected business leaders, some who are UB alumni and some who simply want to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

"I cannot put too much emphasis on how much value that brings to anyone who has an entrepreneurial mindset and an idea for a business," Hardy said. "You just can't pin a dollar amount to it. So while the pitch competition's monetary prizes are, all around, highly attractive to our competitors, what they really rave about is the chance to, in effect, meet the future, by working with and getting feedback from those who mentor them. Naturally, people with ideas want to share them. Sharing them with others who also have ideas: that's the magic."

Here are brief overviews of the contestants and their ideas and/or companies:

UB Students: New Ideas

Nikolay Ratajczak
Charm City Model, a residential real estate development business that is socially, environmentally, and financially responsible for rehabilitating and leasing vacant properties.

Kemmie Booth
BmoreHeard, an innovative youth activism platform that gives young people a voice on important issues.

UB Students: Existing Businesses

Patrick Martin
Team MG Engineering, which designs, manufactures, and builds professional Unmanned Aerial Systems.

Michael Palmisano, a marriage of college-level guitar curriculum with an interactive social network.

UB Alumni: New Ideas

Abaid Chaudhry, M.B.A. ’12 and Monet Lea, M.B.A. ’12, a health fitness website that acts as an information medium.

Michael Horton, B.S. ’94
Tobbs, a unique brand of men’s ties and handkerchiefs.

UB Alumni: Existing Businesses

Alan Tsao, B.S. ’11 and Michael Mohamed, B.S. ’10
Hazoo, an online service for finding and selling items to people you trust, powered by existing social networks.

Adrian Hessen, M.B.A. ’04
TenantRex, a real estate broker service for standardizing fragmented lease comparison data into effective rents, aggregated averages and analytic metrics.

Registration for this event is available at

Learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Affairs and the Merrick School of Business.


Last Published 6/9/16