In the television show “Shark Tank,” aspiring entrepreneurs have only a short time to wow the judges and win funding. For entrepreneur students at Howard Community College (HCC), a similar fast-paced pitch competition takes place each semester, with prize money offered to the top students to cover business startup costs or pay for college courses.

For the first time ever, seasoned student competitors — the top students from this year’s “Pinnacle Pitch” competitions at the college — squared off Thursday, May 21, before a room of business leaders at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s (HCCC) 46th annual meeting luncheon.

At the event, HCC entrepreneur students shared their plans for new businesses. After tallying the ballots, the HCCC declared student Max Fashola as the winner with his idea for an apparel business, V.I.N.T.A.G.E., which seeks to reach young people through fashion to connect them to a higher purpose.

The HCCC awarded Fashola a prize package of consulting services donated by local business leaders, including the following:

  • One hour business planning/operations guidance provided by Patrick Shurney, HCCC board member and senior vice president and Chesapeake region market leader at Sandy Spring Bank
  • One hour accounting/finance consulting provided by Mitch Phillips, HCCC board
  • One hour business planning/strategy provided by Ron Meliker, past chair of the HCCC board of directors and CEO at Meliker Consulting
  • One hour legal consulting provided by Bill Erskine, HCCC board member and legal counsel, and attorney/principal at Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law
  • One hour sales and marketing guidance provided by Jean Parker, HCCC board member and general manager at Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • One hour networking and community involvement consulting provided by Jeff Agnor, HCCC board of directors incoming chair and attorney at Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny

The other student competitors were Mahnoor Sheikh for Mothers for Education, which will provide funds for education to mothers in Pakistan through exporting scarves that the mothers sew; Alexsander Petrov for Pheidi, a running rewards app; and Glenn Lucas for 3rd Day Vineyards, which seeks to provide aspiring vintners the education and facilities necessary to make wine.

Students in the competition took HCC’s introductory entrepreneurship and creativity course, which is part of a holistic, individualized approach to entrepreneurship education offered on campus and online. For more information, visit