Howard County’s entrepreneur accelerator program, “HoCo Higher,” ended last week with a pitch competition and three winners who will receive $21,000 in total funding. The 25 entrepreneurs that completed the inaugural class received $5,000 in seed money. HoCo Higher is a joint partnership between County Executive Calvin Ball, M&T Bank and Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA).

All the entrepreneurs in the class participated in an elimination round pitch competition to determine 5 finalists which included:

  • Tocar Spa, Stephen Conti: 1st Place, $15,000 | Health Care/Massage Therapy
  • HoCo Pirate Adventures, Chris Fuchs: 2nd Place, $4,000 | Nonprofit, Education
  • Mosquito Hunters, Chaz Robinson: 3rd Place, $2,000 | Pest Control
  • UPL!FT!, Dr. Xavier Bruce: Professional Development Training
  • Koller Consulting, Sheri Koller: Consulting/Social Work

During the past 10 weeks, entrepreneurs followed a curriculum curated by M&T Bank, the region’s top small-business lender. The curriculum included lessons from a diverse set of presenters on legal business formation, obtaining certifications, developing business plans, managing business and personal finances, sourcing capital, pricing strategies, risk management and business insurance, marketing strategies and more.