The Maryland Business Innovation Association can point to many graduate company success stories! Below, we share some of these success stories.
entered the Towson University Business Incubator in 2013 looking for help getting to the next level. The company, founded in 2010, doubled revenue and the average client size during its year in the incubator. With help from the incubator, Adashmore Creative refined a plan to increase employees and capabilities over the next few years.
started with three employees at FITCI’s Hood College location and has now grown to over 36 employees. They are currently renting 20,000 square feet of office space in downtown Frederick and have received institutional investments totaling over $17 million.
started at FITCI in 2008 with three employees and has grown to over 36
employees. They have purchased a 12,000 square foot building in downtown Thurmont and are experiencing continued growth on strong demand for high value specialized scientific services.
entered an incubator in 2007 with one employee and graduated in 2011. It is currently a tenant at bwtech South with 25 employees and over $2 million in revenue. It recently opened a subsidiary in Ghana.
is a professional management consulting firm with a Project Management Office (PMO), specializing in Enterprise Transformation Services and Enterprise Oversight Services was a tenant of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation’s Technology Assistance Center (TAC) Incubator from 2007 to 2011. Upon graduation from the business incubator it moved to its global headquarters in Greenbelt, MD. As of April 2014 it is a well-established company with two offices in Greenbelt, MD, and is recognized as one of the fastest growing small businesses in Prince George’s County. As an ISO 9001:2008 and CMMISM certified organization, it provides holistic solutions to its global customers through strategic business advice, organizational change management, and enterprise technology development that includes both business and architecture solutions.
entered the bwtech incubator in 2006, graduated in 2009 with approximately 20 employees, and was sold in 2011 for approximately $10 million.
How Failure Sparked Founders Approach’s Success
For an entrepreneur, failure is extremely tough to admit. You put on an act and a false sense of confidence that everything is going well. You just launched a product, you are increasing users, you just raised money from investors, so everything is great, right? What outsiders don’t know if you are providing the vanity metrics to make your business look as good as possible. No one wants to admit all of the fires they are trying to put out within their business and how they are hanging on by a thread. You hear all of the stories after the fact of successful entrepreneurs and all of the times they didn’t think their business would make it. The one common thread with these entrepreneurs is that they used failure as a learning and growing experience.
When you accept failure as a learning experience, you have the ability to adapt and improve your business. You will never get it right the first time and feedback/data is crucial in terms of continually growing your business. Too many times entrepreneurs are too close to their own product and don’t see what the market truly needs. This is why collecting feedback and analyzing data is so much more important than your assumptions. Most times your product is completely different than your first version. You learn from your users and customers to iterate the product.
When initially building Loople, we were looking for the right development partner. We started with a friend’s brother as a CTO, which we quickly realized would never work. Then we started getquotes from development companies, which we could not afford as a bootstrapped startup. So we started looking overseas, but had head a lot of horror stories. We spent a lot of time and due diligence to find the right team for us. We were lucky to find a quality team, but that does not mean it was all rainbows and sunshine. We made a lot of mistakes learning the ins and outs of project management. We quickly learned that project management takes a lot of time and effort. If you think you can just pass an idea to a development team and tell them to build it, we can promise you that will not work. Over the course of two years with Loople, we iterated over 30 times between iPhone and Android applications. We were collecting feedback and analyzing data to improve the application, which directly correlated with increasing our user retention.
During this time, we thought our missing piece was a CTO. We blamed this for not growing and scaling faster. Where in all reality our lack of a scalable data collection process and an inconsistent revenue model were the problem that we did not want to admit. It had now been two years without a salary and we were running out of money for Loople, so we started looking at investor opportunities. After countless rejections, we found a serious investor, who ended up not wanting to invest in Loople but wanting us to build an app for him. We believed this would be a great way to make side money to pay the bills and keep growing at Loople. This one project lead to the next and the next, when we realized a market opportunity.
What we initially thought was our weakness, we turned into our strength. We doubled down on this opportunity and went out and became experts in the development and project management space. There are so many free educational materials for people to go out and learn technical and project management skills. Also, we took our failures with Loople to help other founders avoid potentially pitfalls and mistakes along the way. We want founders to know they don’t need a CTO or investors to validate their business. We specialize in helping startups build affordable prototypes, validate early versions of their products, and iterating on their products to scale their businesses.
When we quit our full-time jobs four years ago, this is definitely not the path we envisioned. However, we are thankful for the failures, mentors, and opportunities that have led us to where we are today.”
Dave Phelan, Co-Founder
a recipient of the 2013 Incubator of the Year Award (Graduate), is a service-disabled Veteran-owned and HUB Zone-certified company. GCC provides a wide range of technical and support services, mainly supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs and US SBA. Established in 1997, the company has grown to over 100 employees and recently graduated from the GIEC into their own facility.
graduated from Bethesda Green in 2012 after raising $14 million in Series B financing. It has 28 employees as of late 2013, and provides the most sophisticated mapping, search and analytical platform for utilities, energy producers and property owners to compute solar energy potential at ground and rooftop sites.
In Vitro Technologies
entered the UMBC incubator in 1992 and graduated in 1997. They developed a workforce of over 60 people and sales exceeding $10 million per year. The company was sold in 2009 for $30 million to Celsis International and continued operations at bwtech South.
an importer of specialty-grade Ethiopian coffee, joined TowsonGlobal in 2011. Within 1 year of joining the incubator, Keffa Coffee doubled its annual revenue to exceed $1.3 million in 2011. Over half a million pounds of green (unroasted) coffee beans are imported annually by Keffa Coffee from Ethiopa, owner Samuel Demisse’s native country. Annual sales now exceed $1.7 million, and 40,000 pounds of Ethiopian coffee are imported each month. Although Keffa Coffee graduated from the incubator in 2013, it remains headquartered in Towson, MD.
entered the Chesapeake Innovation Center (CIC) in 2009 and graduated in 2014 as a leader in cybersecurity and cloud computing (cyber/cloud) technologies and solutions services for sensitive data, process management and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). By 2013, kloudtrack® had achieved profitability, inked an anchor teaming agreement with Cisco Systems for its channel sales model branded as the kloudtrack® Innovation SandboxTM.
entered the bwtech incubator in 2006 with one employee and graduated in 2009 with approximately 30 employees. The company moved to expanded space in Montgomery County in 2010.
started as a client of FITCI’s business incubation program in early 2009 and graduated in March of 2013. In just three years, they grew their two-person startup company into a successful, thriving business, doubling their revenue and hiring eight employees. Medigen currently resides in a 3,000 square foot facility in the north east side of Riverside Technology Park. They are working on 2 patents and looking forward to the possibility of international collaboration with their newest venture: hosting scientists from Egypt interested in their bird flu vaccine.
entered ETC with four employees and $1.3 million in private equity investment one month after its founding in June 2006. The company graduated in September 2008, and by March of 2012 Millennial completed a successful initial public offering that valued the company at $1 billion. Sales were $39.4 million for the quarter ending June 30, 2012. The Company remains based in Baltimore.
founded in 2005, entered the ETC Program in January 2006 with three employees and the company graduated in June 2010. When acquired by Blackboard in March 2012, the employee count had risen to 90, the annualized revenue run rate was $5.9 million, and over $15 million in private equity investment had been raised. The Company remains based in Baltimore.
Motifworks Exits TU Incubator, Grows into Downtown Towson
Motifworks is an IT services company devoted to cloud conversion and mobile app development. The company applies infrastructure, application, and big data innovation to all of its projects. Most of Motifworks’ customers are larger enterprise software companies who desire to migrate into cloud computing environs and must do so carefully and transparently. The company began in 2009 as a one person founding team by Nitin Agarwal.
Nitin was seeking a reasonable and economical space to set up his company headquarters and grow his business development. The TU Incubator team provided him with space as well as the business, sales, and distribution advice he needed.
Over the course of the last five years, Motifworks has had sincere growth. Nitin has grown his North American team to over ten people, increasing the number of TU Incubator offices to four. This coincides with the growth of a 70+ person engineering team in Pune, India.
“What is behind the scenes when a start-up pops? Take a look at Motifworks, as they expand into downtown Towson, and you’ll find out they had lots of help. Going from a business concept to 5x revenue and 10x employee growth over a few years took real focus and support.
entered the incubator in 2000 with two employees and graduated in 2004. In 2009, the company was sold to one of its customers, but the operations remain at bwtech South with about 25 employees.
entered the bwtech incubator in 2008 and graduated in 2013. The company recently raised approximately $5 million and moved to expanded space in the UMB BioPark.
entered the bwtech incubator in 2006 and graduated in 2009, moving into its own facility. It currently has approximately 25 employees in Maryland and has a therapeutic vaccine for HIV in clinical trials.
entered bwtech incubator in 1994 and graduated in 1997. The company sold for $12 million.
entered the ETC Program in August 2001 with five employees. The Company graduated from ETC in November 2004 with 10 employees and commercialized its technology 15 months later, generating sales of $850,000 in 2006. By 2010 sales were $4 million. In mid 2011 Salar was acquired by Transcend Services in an $11 million cash-for-stock transaction.
launched in 2009, and created the first ChargePro™ 620 edition, and Electrical Vehicle (EV) charging software called SemaCharge before graduating from the CIC in 2012. Today the company has tens of thousands of stations deployed nationwide, is the second-largest EV charging station in the US and is expanding its international presence daily.
entered the Prince George’s County Technology Assistance Center in 2000 with one full-time employee and become the first official TAC graduate in 2006. As of April 2014 this IT security management firm has grown into a multi-million dollar company with 44 employees and offices in Hyattsville and Largo, Maryland.
was nurtured through its growth in the GIEC and was subsequently sold to KEYW. KEYW, with offices in five states and over 1,000 employees, currently maintains a presence in the GIEC as it serves its engineering services client base.
entered the bwtech incubator in 2004 and graduated in 2008. In 2011 the company moved to the UMBC Research Park and is currently a tenant with approximately 84 employees nationwide. A subsidiary company, Bandura, was formed in 2012 and is a resident in the Cyber Incubator at bwtech@UMBC.
was founded in 1998, entered the ETC Program in 1999 and commercialized its technology in 2000. Since then the Company’s growth has been rapid. In April 2006, VISICU became a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ National Stock Exchange. On February 20, 2008, VISICU was acquired by Philips Holding USA, Inc.
founded in 2005 and entered the ETC Program in February 2006. At that time WellDoc had four employees and had raised $1 million in private equity investment. The Company graduated in June 2008, and the employee count is now up to 106, the current annualized revenue run rate is $8.1 million and over $13 million in private equity investment has been raised.
started at FITCI in 2009 with two employees and now has a staff of over 20. They are located in downtown Frederick, occupying 5,000 square feet of space.