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The second annual InvestMaryland Challenge is in full swing. If your business is in need of a jump start, check out this site for more information about the national business competition. The Challenge offers applicants free admission to networking events, social media promotion, scoring and feedback from judges, exposure to venture capital firms and angel investors and the chance to compete for more than $600,000 in prizes. Winners of the Life Sciences, IT, Cybersecurity and General Industry categories will each win $100,000 awards. Others will take home smaller grants, incubator space, consulting services and other cash and in-kind prizes. Applications are due by Dec. 6.

Judges include a distinguished lineup of industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields. Meet a selection of judges below.

Meet The Judges:



Robb Doub joined New Markets Venture Partners in 2003. Robb is the lead administrative partner and serves as a board director for eCoast Sales Solutions and Appfluent Technology, and is lead partner or board observer for K2 Global, Kroll Bond Ratings, Navtrak, Three Stage Media, CSA Medical and TidalTV. He also serves on the board of Egeen International and the Conflicts Advisory Board of the off-shore hedge funds.


Daphne Dufresne joined RLJ Equity Partners from Parish Capital Advisors, where she was a Venture Partner managing the direct investment and co-investment program. Formerly, Ms. Dufresne was a Principal at Weston Presidio Capital with $3.4 billion of assets under management. She also served as Associate Director in the Bank of Scotland’s Structured Finance Group. Ms. Dufresne received her B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Christy Williams Wyskiel is an entrepreneur and investor with 20 years of experience focused on the life sciences and healthcare industries. Previously, Christy was Managing Director at Maverick Capital, an equity hedge fund with $12 billion under management. She co-founded GrayBug, an ophthalmic drug-delivery company. In 2012, Christy joined the Johns Hopkins Alliance, a board charged with evaluating the commercial viability of research projects at JHU.


Frederick J. Ferrer has over three decades of experience in the National Security, Intelligence Community (IC), Homeland Defense and Cyber. Mr. Ferrer holds a Master’s of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and serves in a number of leadership capacities, including the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence; National STEM Consortium Advisory Committee; and Chesapeake Regional Tech Council.


As the Executive Director and President of the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, Ms. Tillett is responsible for management of budgetary, administrative, programmatic functions and strategic planning. Prior to joining ETC, Ms. Tillett served as president and co-founder of Immersive 3D, LLC, a technology start-up providing web-based 3D computer gaming solutions for K-20 education and offering contract-based technology services.

See the full list of judges and submit your application on

by Karen Glenn Hood, DBED Marketing and Communications

Like many small business owners, Susan Aplin wanted to expand her business.

As the CEO of Bambeco, an eco-friendly home and housewares company based in Baltimore, Aplin saw opportunity in the ever-growing market for sustainable goods. She wanted to add employees, she wanted to increase her inventory and she wanted a bigger space.

So, last year, Aplin turned to the Maryland Venture Fund, a financing program of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), which has approved a $100,000 investment in the retailer, enabling the company to move forward on its goals for growth.

Bambeco is among the business success stories being highlighted in a series of ads that DBED began running this week on local radio and on to connect Maryland small businesses that may not qualify for traditional bank financing with State resources. The 10-week Financing that Fits campaign promotes four of the State’s key financing programs that received the first round of $23 million of funding from the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

“The Financing that Fits campaign is part of a larger, ongoing effort by the State to address the needs of the many small businesses that are continuing to struggle to access credit,” said DBED Secretary Christian S. Johansson. “These four finance programs received additional federal funds targeted to help small businesses and we want to ensure that the businesses that need such assistance are aware that these programs exist and learn how they can benefit from them.”

 In addition to Bambeco, the ads feature stories about Environmental Engineering and Construction and John L. Williams Funeral Home, as well as lender Harbor Bank, which has worked with DBED on several loan guarantee deals.  The ads drive listeners and readers to the State’s economic development website, which has more information on the programs and provides a form that businesses can fill out which will be evaluated for potential financing by DBED staff.

The DBED programs promoted in the ads are the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), which provides credit guarantees to small businesses that may not meet established credit criteria; the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority (MIDFA), which provides loan guarantees; and the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), which invests in seed and early stage businesses to help with the cost of bringing a new product to market. Also included in the promotion is a program of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Neighborhood Business Works, which provides gap financing to new or expanding small business and nonprofits in sustainable communities. In May 2010, Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios announced as part of a national effort to strengthen existing State finance programs that support lending to small business that Maryland would receive a total of $23 million for these programs, $7 million of which became available in June. Once those funds are expended, the programs can jointly draw down the remaining $16 million.