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Four Businesses Split $125,000 in Second Round of Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Program

5/28/2014 12:47:00 PM

College Scooters

Pictured, from left: Perdue School Dean Bob Wood, Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Board Member Mike Cottingham, Navid Mazloom, John Churchman and Dr. William Burke.

[Related Links]SALISBURY, MD---Entrepreneurs funded through the most recent round of Salisbury University’s Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery program represented the most diverse group of businesses yet.

Their winnings totaled some $125,000, during the final round of the first year of the five-year, $1 million initiative to assist entrepreneurs and help them create new jobs.

On the same day, many Shore Hatchery participants also auditioned for ABC-TV’s Shark Tank, holding its first small-market auditions at SU for the show’s sixth season. However, it didn’t take a reality TV producer to draw the attention of Ratcliffe’s judges to their business plans. In many cases, their stories were as compelling as anything on network television.

Take 17-year-old Joost Elling of Bethany Beach, DE, for example. While most teenage boys are thinking about sports, cars and school, the Indian River High School senior looked to his Dutch lineage to help expand his business baking and selling “stroopwafels,” caramel-filled cookies popular in Europe.

Word is spreading about the growing Joost Wafel Company, which sells the cookies in a variety of flavors online and in specialty shops at the southern Delaware beaches. For the past two years, they have taken first place at the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival.

Joost Wafel Co.
Wood and Burke with Joost and Bart Elling of Joost Wafel Company, center
Shore Hatchery judges were impressed enough with Elling’s business plan — and his cookies, which he passed around for sampling — to award him $10,000 to purchase a second specialty waffle iron and explore ways to preserve the treats’ freshness.

Win or lose, participants in the competition also receive mentoring, usually from members of the Shore Hatchery board of directors, which includes such prominent area business leaders as Perdue Farms Chairman Jim Perdue and Seacrets Jamaica USA owner Leighton Moore. However, Elling’s mentors, John Churchman and Navid Mazloom, are affiliated with the program in a slightly different way. They are the owners of College Scooters and Cycles, whose $45,000 Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery award was announced just seconds after Joost Wafel Company’s.

“He’s in the position we were just a few years ago,” said Churchman. “We are happy to share what we have learned.”

Churchman credited the mentoring they received from board members Bruce Rogers and Mike Cottingham, after not being funded during the first round of the Shore Hatchery program last fall, with earning the largest single award bestowed by the judges during the most recent round. This spring, their business plan represented a larger focus on branding, budgeting and marketing.

“The growth we have seen in this plan is tremendous,” said SU Entrepreneurship Competitions Director William Burke upon announcing the award.

Churchman came up with the plan for College Scooters as an SU student, competing for the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business’ annual Bernstein Achievement Award for Excellence, today the capstone in the University’s annual student entrepreneurship competitions. Though he did not win the Bernstein Award, which provides winners with startup funding, he called the experience “a good stepping stone” and was able to use his business plan to secure private funding. He started College Scooters as a sophomore in 2011.

Originally an online business, it soon grew to include brick-and-mortar stores in Salisbury and College Park, MD. Now the top scooter and cycle dealer in Maryland, the company focuses on creating a collegiate experience for buyers. Stores are “campuses” with various components including a “student commons” waiting room and “quad” showroom. Sales representatives are “deans” and “professors.” Customers are “students” who “graduate” with their purchases — complete with diplomas.

Leverage Mobile
Burke, center, with Matt Smith and Doug Hawley of Leverage Mobile
With the Ratcliffe funding, Churchman, who earned his B.S. in marketing and information systems from SU in 2013, plans to update the showrooms at his current stores and put money toward opening a third in Baltimore.

One Shore Hatchery winner is already operating in the Baltimore area. Last year, SU alumnus (and former Bernstein Award winner) Tim McFadden and his business partner, Aric Wanveer, received $25,000 to increase production capacity and marketing for a waterproof decorative light bulb, the Permabulb, through their Charm City-based Zero Gravity Creations studio.

Since then, they have explored other options for using Magmabond, a metal-glass fusion process they devised to make the Permabulb possible. The team updated the Ratcliffe judges on two new products in development. First was a series of lighted beer taps that may add “brightest display” to the age-old argument of whether “tastes great” or “less filling” is a brew’s best virtue.

The second, and more serious, product was Hyperion’s Torch, an illuminated rescue beacon with a GPS signal that would be carried on ships and planes, and activated automatically upon contact with water in the event of a crash.

Zero Gravity is already a Shore Hatchery success story, having hired seven new employees since 2013 due, in part, to funding received during the first round. The company was awarded an additional $35,000 to continue research, development, marketing and production initiatives for its two newest products.

Matt Smith, chief technology officer for the Salisbury-based Leverage Mobile, hopes to find similar success with his newest business. The digital mobile solutions company, which opened its doors just three months ago, provides cloud-based mobile app creation, device management and integration.

Zero Gravity Creations
Aric Wanveer, center, of Zero Gravity Creations, with Wood and Burke
Smith came up with the idea for the business as an information technology consultant. He saw more and more companies becoming frustrated with the traditional consulting model, which could be expensive and time consuming, and also required up-front fees for results that were not guaranteed. Leverage Mobile, he said, uses new technology for a more effective, streamlined process. The judges agreed, awarding $30,000.

Smith and his co-founders, Ron Hodges and Doug Hawley, hope to use that money to hire two employees. They also are helping to train SU students for the business world, accepting four as interns this summer.

The Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery program is administered through SU’s Perdue School. According to the school’s dean, Dr. Bob Wood, it represents the largest gift given by the Baltimore-based foundation to date. Its goal: to fund entrepreneurs and have new businesses opening within six months, with the potential of employing five or more within a year.

The second year of the competition is scheduled for next fall, with a potential $200,000 in seed funding available. The online application process is scheduled to open Friday, August 22.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Winners Announced

Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Winners Announced

Dr. Memo Diriker, director of SU’s Business, Economic and Community Outreach
Network (BEACON), left, and Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery board member Mike
Cottingham, president and CEO of Rommel Holdings, right, congratulate Charles
White and Mike Boylan of PaverGuide on receiving $35,000 in funding from this
spring’s competition.

SALISBURY, MD---Members of Salisbury University’s Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery board of directors spread the wealth — literally — during the fourth round of the semiannual competition.

Eight Maryland-based startup businesses, representing more than half of this semester’s 15 competitors, received funding from the initiative, established with a $1 million gift from the Ratcliffe Foundation in 2013 to assist entrepreneurs and help them create new jobs. Winners included:

•    PaverGuide - $35,000. Producing a lightweight, low-cost pervious paving system, this company hopes to help contractors save on construction labor and materials while providing a high-quality, low-maintenance alternative to traditional brick and stone pavers. Production is planned to take place in Hurlock, MD.

•    NUVU- $25,000. Creators of this app hope it will serve as a nightlife guide and social interaction tool for young adults while providing real-time analytics and advertising opportunities for bars and clubs.

•    Kitchology - $25,000. This app will provide substitution suggestions in recipes for diners seeking to lose weight or managing dietary restrictions.

•    Oasis Marinas - $20,000. Winning $30,000 in last fall’s Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery competition, this upscale marina management company returned this semester with a new idea: a “Snag a Slip” website that will allow boaters to reserve marina slips in advance online.

•    Gold Leaf Academy - $5,000. This accredited child care program and private school would serve children ages 6 weeks to 4 years.

•    Kanga Trash and Energy Systems - $5,000. Conceptualized by University of Maryland student Cody Branchaw, this company plans to produce under-seat garbage cans for stadiums and arenas, reducing the number of hours required to clean the facilities after events and decreasing the amount of electricity needed to keep the venues illuminated during cleaning periods.

•    Operation Precision Systems, LLC - $5,000. This company is developing a cloud-based drinking water quality monitoring and management service, with an eye toward expanding into air quality, ground quality and waste management monitoring.

•    IPPS Mentoring Program - $5,000. The first non-profit organization funded by the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery, this Salisbury-based program provides mentoring services at the Wicomico County Detention Center in hopes of keeping inmates from returning once they have served their sentence. With the funding, IPPS board members plan to expand the initiative to the Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit this summer.

In total, the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery distributed some $125,000 this semester for a total of $200,000 this academic year. The fifth round of the competition is scheduled next fall, with some $200,000 in seed funding available.“The judges continue to be impressed with what they’re seeing each semester,” said William Burke, SU director of entrepreneurship competitions. “They had an especially tough time this round, and the number of prizes awarded reflects that.”

Administered through SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, the goal of the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery program is to fund entrepreneurs in the mid-Atlantic and have new businesses opening within six months, with the potential of employing five or more within a year.

In addition to funding, winners and participants also receive mentoring support from the program’s board. Members include business leaders such as Jim Perdue of Perdue Farms, Dave Rommel and Mike Cottingham of Rommel Holdings, Frank Gunion of South Moon Under, Laura Baker of Draper Holdings, Jennifer Layton of Layton’s Chance Vineyards and Winery, Bruce Rogers of Sherwood of Salisbury, Katherine Kiernan of APPI Energy and Sandy Fitzgerald-Angello of Pohanka Automotive Group, among others.

This semester’s Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery competition was part of SU’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Week, which also featured the University’s annual student Entrepreneurship Competitions and, in connection with 47 ABC, a casting call for the ABC-TV hit series Shark Tank.

The next Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery submission period is August 17-September 21. For application materials and more information visit

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