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EDC'S 'Dolphin Tank' Companies Give Perfect Pitch

(l. to r.; Sherrell Martin, Chief Financial Solutions Officer, NITRAM Financial Solutions; John Huggins, Jr., Chief Operating Officer, Last Mile Broadband, LLC; Dr. Adrienne Y. Semidey, Management Consultant, Communications and Change Management Solutions, LLC; Jim Coleman, President & CEO, PGCEDC; Sam Medile, Managing Director, Unified Parking Partners; Kisha Logan, Small Business Manager, PGCEDC; Kimberly Crockett, Managing Partner, DMV Solutions; James Chavis, President & CEO, Renaissance Systems, Inc.; Anna Consani, Community Manager, Springboard Enterprises; Amy Millman, President, Springboard Enterprises)Largo, MD, May 10, 2016 - Today, more than 75 local entrepreneurs were given the unique opportunity to get their feet wet at the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation's first "Dolphin Tank and Networking Event", hosted in partnership with Springboard Enterprises and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation. Five companies from the Economic Development Corporation Accelerator Program jumped in to pitch their business to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and influencers, all dedicated to building high-growth companies without the feeding frenzy of a shark. Panelists and attendees, in turn, shared what they liked about the company pitch, provided feedback on what the company may want to think about as its next steps, and made suggestions about who the company should connect with to improve its business model and grow.
"There's nothing worse than having a great idea and nobody picking up on it because you don't know how to get their attention," said EDC President and CEO Jim Coleman. "Sometimes, entrepreneurs don't know what they don't know and need help in getting on the right track.  There is no time for cooling off in Prince George's County these days. There are too many people looking for what your business is selling for you to not brag about your company, because when you are successful, the County is successful and jobs are plentiful.  It's just that simple."
For more than a decade, Springboard has served as a nationwide platform for recruiting, coaching, showcasing, promoting and supporting women entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies exponentially. The Dolphin Tank is a supportive, vision-expanding experience that allows entrepreneurs to get real-time advice from knowledgeable industry experts who can help them change their message to get the attention their business needs and deserves.  Combined with the networking component, the strategic connections made at today's event have the potential to catapult these businesses forward to even greater success.
"The Economic Development Corporation is the biggest cheerleader and champion that I have seen for small businesses around the country," said Amy Millman, President of Springboard Enterprises.  "When companies are in the throes of building their business, they are so involved in all of the details that they forget the most important reason of why they started the business - to make them successful.  We use these programs to remind these amazing entrepreneurs how incredibly valuable what they are doing is, how expert they are, and letting them know why they will be successful.  If we are nothing more than cheerleaders, I think we did our job."
The EDC Accelerator is a program that supports Prince George's County startups that have high-growth potential and are developing innovative products or services.  Through a combination of low overhead, one-on-one business consulting, mentorship, and exclusive networking activities, the EDC Accelerator works to take a company from startup to success within six months.
"I am grateful to Springboard for bringing the 'Dolphin Tank' concept to the EDC's Accelerator clients.  It is important for them to be able to clearly articulate what they do in order to sell their services to others," said Kisha Logan, EDC Small Business Services Manager.  "Our job is to make sure that our local companies aren't afraid to jump from a small pond into the ocean.  Forums like Dolphin Tank are great for giving them the confidence and the edge they need in a friendly, supportive atmosphere."
The presenting companies, DMV Solutions, LLC, NITRAM Financial Solutions, Communications and Change Management Solutions, LLC, Renaissance Systems, Inc., and Last Mile Broadband, LLC pitched their services to panelists as well as the other businesses attending the Dolphin Tank; and the attendees were not shy with their beneficial feedback.
"I think this was a great event.  All of the attendees had something to gain from the comments from the panel as well as the presentations," said Kenneth Clark with Peake Financial Group. "It has allowed me to rethink how I am pitching my own company with respect to clients as well as businesses."
Presenters were encouraged to begin their pitch with a call to action - what they want from the audience, and state their case with clarity and simplicity, no matter how complicated.
"This Dolphin Tank was an awesome experience," said James Chavis, President and CEO of Renaissance Systems, Inc. in Upper Marlboro. "I love the recommendations and EDC has been extremely helpful in getting the word out about our business and getting it off the ground.  I'm very thankful."
"It was exciting to present my company and my idea to everyone and get great feedback as well as recommendations and opportunities," said Sherrell Martin, Chief Financial Solutions Officer of NITRAM Financial Solutions in National Harbor, MD. "I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people today telling me to come see them so that we can connect.  The EDC's networking events and small business manager, Kisha Logan, have been a great help in getting us ready to move out of the nest."

Today's "Dolphin Tank" was sponsored by a grant from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.  For more information on the EDC Accelerator Program or workshops and forums to support small businesses, contact Kisha Logan, EDC Small Business Services Manager at 301-583-4650 or kvlogan@co.pg.md.us