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Columbia Startup Introduces Smart-Phone Enabled Winter Gloves

Blue Infusion Technologies has introduced its first product this month — a glove outfitted with Bluetooth technology that lets  the wearer operate a smart phone while keeping his hands warm. The Columbia startup is selling its BEARTek Gloves online before placing them in retail stores by fall/winter of 2013.

Blue Infusion Technologies' second product, a motorsports glove with Bluetooth technology, is being launched at the same time, also online first and later in retail stores.

“This is the first time the products are available for purchase,” says CEO Willie Blount, who founded the company two years ago. Blount is referring to the launches on Kickstarter.com, a competitive process that required sending a proposal, product descriptions and video demonstrating that it has a viable product.
BEARTek Gloves are priced at $150/pair and is outfitted with Bluetooth technology. A Bluetooth module contains a battery and custom hardware that enable a connection to a smart phone. Touching the thumb activates touchpoints on the fingertips, says Blount.
“You touch the thumb to a designated fingertip to make calls,” says Blount. “Skiers can call for emergency help if they aren’t carrying a phone or without reaching for a phone inside a jacket.” The motorsports glove is in the same price range and uses the same technology.
Blue Infusion Technologies is a virtual company that collaborates with the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. It is a Maryland-certified minority-owned business.
Last spring, the company received help on glove technology and product development from the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program, which is funded by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. In August, it received a $148,500 award from the Maryland Industrial Partnership to collaborate with Dr. Marc Cohen, a research scientist at the University of Maryland College Park, on the technology.
Blount says the idea for BEARTek and motorsports gloves came from his experiences and those of his business partner and COO Tarik Rodgers’ experiences. Blount is a former US Marine who has also worked for the US government as a specialist in electronics and aviation. Rodges, an engineer, is an experienced skier.
The company has arranged manufacturing of the gloves in a US factory, says Blount, who, with Rodgers, are the company’s two employees.  The company is a state-certified minority-owned business.
Source: Willie Blount, Blue Infusion Technologies
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore Ravens Torrey Smith To Pitch Energy Startup

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith makes his debut this month as a spokesman for PointClickSwitch.com, a website that offers one-stop comparison shopping for residential and commercial electricity consumers.  

The Baltimore startup, a division of state licensed electricity broker Maryland Energy Advisors, is using the football player to promote its Nov. 13 launch in Maryland and four other states.
Phil Croskey, founder and CEO of PointClickSwitch.com, says the company approached the National Football League winning-team member because it was looking for someone with name recognition in the Maryland market.
“He’s a class act, a high-character individual and we appreciate that,” Croskey says.
PointClickSwitch.com operates in two states, Maryland and Illinois. It is currently going through the licensing process in three additional jurisdictions – New York State, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Croskey expects it to be operational in all three jurisdictions by mid-2013.
PointClickSwitch.com provides a listing of energy suppliers and their current rates per kilowatt hour, the standard measure of electricity. There is no fee for consumers to use the website or to change suppliers. The suppliers pay the company a marketing fee per customer but the rate to consumers is the same whether through PointClickSwitch.com or directly from them.
Suppliers on the website include familiar names like Constellation Energy, Con Edison, Castle Bridge Energy and Pepco, along with a lesser known company like Cool Currents, which offers electricity from renewable energy sources. Maryland residents can sign up for any supplier on the list, depending on the supplier’s regional arrangements.
“We serve everything from studio apartments to heavy industrial users, although large commercial projects need a more customized approach, which we also do,” says Croskey, who notes that customers can save up to 20 percent on their electricity bill by comparison shopping.

“We have suppliers charging 9.1 cents versus 7.69 cents per kilowatt hour,” he says.

Croskey, former director of economic development for the Baltimore Development Corp., founded PointClickSwitch.com in 2010. It is a portfolio company of Wasabi Ventures Accelerator at Loyola University of Maryland, and operates out of an office in downtown Baltimore.

As the company expands into new markets, Croskey expects to hire three to five employees to add to its current staff of three. He is looking for employees to focus on the new markets, although they can work from Baltimore to do so. He is also looking for an IT person to manage the company’s social media.
The company is privately funded although Croskey does not rule out a financing round as it expands.
Source: Phil Croskey, PointClickSwitch.com
Writer: Barbara Pash

ETC Firm Launches New Web Content Management Product

EasyWebContent wants to make life easy for its customers by taking the complexity out of putting interactive content like presentations and infographics on websites and mobile devices.

The Presenter, its newest service, is a one-stop shop to do all that. Now in the testing stage, the web developer expects to launch it in early 2013.

President Payman Taei founded EasyWebContent in 2008, a spinoff of his Frederick web development and marketing firm HindSite Interactive. EasyWebContent has offices in both Frederick and at the Emerging Technology Center in Canton. Taei says EasyWebContent will still offer its basic product but the Presenter allows clients to do multiple applications with one tool. Applications include presentations, infographics, banners and product demonstrations, all in a downloadable format.

"The Presenter completes our service as a whole. It allows everyone to create everything online," says Taei, who expects the product to be popular with current clients and to attract other clients.

EasyWebContent is a web content creator and manager whose clients are mostly small businesses and nonprofits like churches but also individuals like writers and audio developers. Often, they have little technical knowledge and the company tries to make the process as simple and easy as possible. Taei says more than 1,000 clients have used its service to create new websites or improve existing ones. It has about 100 clients whose websites it actively manages.

"There really isn't one tool that allows you to do all these things effectively," says Taei. "Traditionally, people have used Adobe Flash to create animation and so on, but it is not mobile-friendly. Our service is an evolution" of that.

EasyWebContent has a free trial period, followed by a monthly or yearly fee to edit, manage and create a brand for the website. Fees range from $8 to $22 per month, depending on services. The Presenter will also begin with a free trial period, with fees of $8 per month to under $100 per year to create and manage. 

The company is privately funded but Taei says he is likely to launch his first round of funding in 2013 as the new service hits the marketplace. It employs four, including Taei, who says he is currently looking to add two people to the staff, a marketing/communications manager and a web developer.
Source: Payman Taei, EasyWebContent
Writer: Barbara Pash

Security Firm Targets Small Biz

RBtec Perimeter Security Systems is known for providing protection at US military bases, US borders, federal prisons and industries' oil and gas pipelines and refineries. Now, the electronic detection and security company, the American counterpart to an Israeli company, is entering a new market. It is targeting small- and medium-sized businesses with an electronic protection product for fences.
Business Development Manager Dori Ribak says the yet-to-be named product is intended for businesses like car dealerships and other commercial operations that need to protect valuable assets left outside. RBtec's product consists of sensor cables that are attached to an existing fence and can detect vibrations of anyone trying to climb, lift or damage the fence. The cables are connected to an existing alarm system.
The kit has 1,000 feet of sensor cable, analyzer, power supply and instructions for self-installation for $3,800. “In essence, you are turning a fence into a ‘smart’ fence,” says Ribak.
RBtec is a sister company of the Israeli company of the same name whose clients include Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The American company entered the US market in 2000 but did not open its Derwood office until 2008. The office serves the North American and Latin American markets. It installs security systems around perimeters, both on the ground and underground.
In the US, Ribak says the company works on the federal level with military bases, border protection and power plants. It secures airports for the Transportation Security Administration and federal prisons for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. On the state level, it protects a reservoir for the state of New York and a gas utility for Virginia. It also works with private clients, such as Rancho Mirage Condominiums in California.
Although RBtec has clients in states around the US, it does not have any contracts with Maryland. Ribak says he is negotiating with the Maryland Department of Corrections for perimeter security around correctional facilities.

RBtec is privately funded and has five employees. However, with the new product, Ribak is looking for local installers and integrators if the property-owners choose not to install it themselves.

Source: Dori Ribak, RBtec Perimeter Security Systems
Writer: Barbara Pash

Political Strategy Game Pits Obama Vs. Romney

Exis Interactive has built a business helping Warner Brothers, LucasArts and other companies develop video games. This month, the nine-year-old TowsonGlobal Business Incubator company is trying something new. 

For the first time, it made and released a product of its own, a political strategy game called “Execuforce" that involves President Barack Obama and former Gov. and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Participants role-play Presidents Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or former Gov. Mitt Romney to travel to distant planets and prevent aliens from destroying Earth.

For $20, the game is downloadable from its website. Exis Interactive Founder Peter Kojesta says it usually works for larger companies on the graphics for their games, including Warner Brothers' "Fear 3" and LucasArts' "Fracture".  Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. are also among its clients. 

There is no lack of games related to politics, but they “get into the minutiae of government,” he says. "Execuforce" is a multi-player game that does so entertainingly. 

Calling the game “a labor of love,” Kojesta says it took Exis Interactive three years to develop because it had to build the game technology from scratch while working on other projects.

Exis Interactive has four staffers, including Kojesta, all of whom have known each other since high school. He describes the company as the “epitome of the American dream,” he says. “We have team members who came here as immigrants and we have members who’ve been in the military. We feel it is important to talk about politics but to do so in a fun way.”

Half of the proceeds from its sale are being split evenly between the Obama’s Democratic Party presidential campaign and the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that benefits American soldiers. The game will remain on the website beyond the November election for an undetermined period of time.

Source: Peter Kojesta, Exis Interactive
Writer: Barbara Pash

Competition Awarding $150K to Startups

If you’ve got a great idea, AccelerateBaltimore wants to hear from you. Sponsored by Baltimore City and the Emerging Technology Centers, the second AccelerateBaltimore has funding for six companies that can move from an idea to a product in 13 weeks.
Applications are available online through Nov. 30. The Abell Foundation is the funding partner, providing $25,000 per winner, who receive free working space, legal help and access to all services at either of the two centers in Canton or Hopkins/Eastern, for 13 weeks. 
The Emerging Technology Centers (ETC) held the first AccelerateBaltimore last April. It was the first such event in the state and the first in the City of Baltimore. There were four winning companies out of 40 applicants.  Winners of the first AccelerateBaltimore were social networking firm Kithly, NewsUp, NoBadGift.com and Unbound Concepts. Publicity about the competition was limited, says ETC Director Deborah Tillett, but there will be a major effort this time to reach out locally and nationally to potential applicants via the incubator network. 
“Accelerates are the next evolution in startup cultures,” she says. “One of the most important things for entrepreneurs and small businesses is access to capital. This is a real shot at that. The $25,000 can put you over the edge.”
Applicants do not have to be Baltimore-based and if they win, they do not have to stay in Baltimore after Accelerate ends.  A panel will narrow applicants to 12, who will be invited for in-person interviews. Winners will be announced on Jan. 7, begin working in the Center of their choice in February and have a viable technology product ready by the end of May.  
At Accelerate’s conclusion, the six winning companies will pitch their product to a group of investors.
Although Accelerate is open to all start-ups, Tillett says they have to use modern technology to create new business solutions. ‘They have to end up with an actual product,” she says, noting that having the technical co-founder of the start-up as part of the company team makes that result more likely.

Source: Deborah Tillett, Emerging Technology Centers
Writer: Barbara Pash

SpotCrime Expanding Into New Markets

SpotCrime has created a new mobile app and says it is negotiating deals with billion-dollar companies to expand into new markets.

Hatched in Baltimore's Emerging Technology Center, the downtown Baltimore company is currently negotiating partnerships with national TV and data distribution companies. SpotCrime President Colin Drane could not name them but says they are “billion-dollar companies that reach millions of people.”

The Baltimore crime mapping company is an online source of crime information. It features news, statistics and real-time maps for arson, assault, burglary, robbery, shooting, theft and vandalism localized for sites around the country.
Launched last month, the new product came out two weeks ago, says Drane. It is a website app, a mobile page for its website, that Drane calls “fairly simple technology" but a great way to represent its data.

Within the past two months, SpotCrime has also expanded its market via its partnerships with two broadcast companies that carry its crime data on their websites.
At Gannett Co., SpotCrime went from three stations to 20; at Sinclair Broadcasting Group, from two stations to four. The additional Sinclair stations are located in Austin, Tx., and West Palm Beach, Fl. SpotCrime also has a presence on Baltimore’s WBFF-TV Fox 45's website.
The website app works like an application for an iPhone or iPad but does not have to be downloaded. “Before the iPhone had an app store, we had the first app, which was a web page on the iPhone. We are returning to our roots and creating a website app,” says Drane.
Founded in 2007, SpotCrime has three full-time employees and a technical team of four staffers.
People can sign up for free e-mail crime alerts via the company’s website. SpotCrime sends out nearly five million personalized crime alerts per month around the country. 
Source: Colin Drane, SpotCrime
Writer: Barbara Pash

Software Firm Moves Into Bigger Digs In Canton

Software firm 6th Street Commerce has moved into a larger office in the Emerging Technology Center at Canton. The move, to a space twice the size of its previous quarters, was made to accommodate current expansion and future growth. The e-commerce company is in the process of hiring up to six key staffers "as quickly as possible," says 6th Street Vice President of Marketing David Anderson.

Anderson says the company is looking for a Chief Technology Officer, web designer-developer and staffers in sales and marketing and in accounting. "We want to grow out sales and marketing team," he says.

The company has been housed at the Canton ETC since its founding in 2008. Anderson says the location has offered flexibility in accommodating its relocation into larger quarters and for its business support. He calls the ETC a "great place for a young company."

6th Street Commerce is introducing a new version of its e-commerce software this month, Saleswarp, intended for mid- to large-size retailers to manage their online and backend operations. The new version of Saleswarp has expanded customer management features and a redesigned user interface, says Anderson.

Saleswarp was launched last year and is the company's sole product. The enterprise product helps companies increase sales and decrease operating costs. Anderson says it helps retailers manage orders, product and suppliers across one to multiple stores. 
Anderson says the company recently acquired two new clients in the national and international fashion industry whose names he was not at liberty to announce yet. Among clients listed on its website are First Book Marketplace, a non-profit book buying group for students and teachers; Crafts2u, an online craft store; and Forest Hill Lacross, a new league.

He also says that Saleswarp is now being marketed to web design firms and system integrators to help retailers develop a web presence.
6th Street Commerce won the 2012 Maryland Incubator Award in the information technology category.
Source: David Anderson, 6th Street Commerce
Writer: Barbara Pash

Biotech Firm Fyodor to Begin Trials for Malaria Test

Fyodor Biotechnology Inc. expects to complete human trials on its product to detect malaria next year, with commercial production to begin in 2014. The Baltimore biotech firm is also in the planning stages for a second product, a variation of the first, that should be ready for production by 2015. The tests are significant for diagnosis and treatment of an illness that is endemic in developing countries around the world. 

"The tests will be revolutionary in malaria circles," says Eddy Agbo, CEO and chairman of the board of Fyodor, which has established a global network of malaria health professionals.

Fyodor Biotechnology is working with partners who will manufacture and distribute the tests, which will be sold to government and non-government organizations like the World Health Organization, travelers and the military. The tests are for citizens and visitors to countries in the "frontier" market, aka developing countries.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine is conducting the human trials on the first product in Nigeria and Mali. The Urine Malaria Test is the first urine-based test geared to the type of malaria seen in Africa, the Caribbean and South America. The second product will detect the malaria strain found in Asia, China and India. It, too, is the first urine-based test for this malarial type and human trials will also be conducted.  
The human trials are required to obtain approval from the US. Food and Drug Administration. While FDA approval is not necessary to sell the products in other countries, it validates them, Agbo says. 
Agbo says the tests resulted from Johns Hopkins University’s global health initiative. Using technology that came out of the initiative, Fyodor created a one-step test that is accurate, easy to use, and quick. Test results are available within 20 minutes.
Founded in 2008, Fyodor was initially housed in the University of Maryland BioInnovation Center. It subsequently moved to the University of Maryland BioPark where, in July, it relocated from a 700-square foot space to a 2,000-square foot space.
The company is doubling its staff, from its current three full-time employees to hiring another three full-time employees by 2013 with expertise in chemistry and recumbent DNA technology. It is also looking for several part-time employees and interns who are familiar with biology, chemistry and laboratory procedures.
So far, Fyodor has attracted a total of $2 million in state and federal grants and from private investors, including Maryland Technology Development Corp. and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In August, NSF awarded the company a grant of $476,000 to continue its research.
Source: Eddy Agbo, Fyodor Biotechnology
Writer: Barbara Pash

Anne Arundel County Manufacturer Moves Into Bigger Digs

SemaConnect Inc., a manufacturer of electric vehicle charging stations, has moved from an Anne Arundel County incubator to new headquarters in a business park in Bowie. The relocation last month from the Chesapeake Innovation Center in Annapolis to an 8,000-square foot facility in Melford Business Park more than triples the size of its office. It allows SemaConnect to have its business and manufacturing operations under one roof for the first time and to continue its market expansion. 
Founded in 2008, SemaConnect’s station is web-based, wired into a 240-volt electrical source and can be mounted on a wall or pedestal. The company moved into the incubator in 2010, after having developed its first product and winning a federal contract administered by the state of Maryland and the Baltimore Electric Vehicle Initiative to build and install 58 electric vehicle stations around the state.
By 2012, SemaConnect has manufactured and sold almost 100 electric vehicle stations in Maryland and almost 500 stations across the US, from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii, according to Naly Yang, director of marketing.
Since 2010, when nearly all sales were to public entities like the state of Maryland, the number of private entities buying stations has grown. It started as a free program the state of Maryland was running. Now, says Yang, a lot of businesses like commercial real estate developers and hotels are interested in having a charging station as a way to promote themselves. The station owners determine what, if anything, they will charge for the stations’ use.
SemaConnect was recently commissioned to produce 1,500 stations for major retail sites across the U.S. like Walgreens and Simon Properties. This year, too, it is expanding its market to Canada, starting with British Columbia.
SemaConnect went from four staffers in 2010 to its current 25 employees, including a national sales team. Yang says the company is the third largest manufacturer of charging stations in the US based on the number of stations deployed.
Source: Naly Yang, SemaConnect
Writer: Barbara Pash

TRX Systems Develops New Indoor Location Product

TRX Systems is developing a new product that transfers its indoor location and mapping system from a military to a commercial application. The new product will be deployed on an Android platform as an indoor location app, according to Carol Politi, TRX’s CEO.
TRX Systems makes software and products that locate, map and track people indoors and at locations without relying on Global Positioning Systems. It uses patented sensor fusion and mapping technology for real-time, 3D personnel location.

Politi says she foresees a big opportunity in the location services field. She points to GPS, which started in the military sector and has moved in a big way to civilian use.
To develop new products and increase sales, TRX Systems recently received $650,000 in funding, of which $150,000 came from the state Department of Business and Economic Development’s Maryland Venture Fund and the rest from private investors. 
Founded in 2006, TRX Systems was originally located in the University of Maryland Training Advancement Program, an incubator in College Park that it left in 2009. The 20-person company is now located in Greenbelt. 
Politis says the company began as a response to the problem of locating firefighters inside buildings. GPS did not penetrate buildings. The company quickly expanded beyond firefighters to work in situations that are, in the jargon, “GPS denied.”
TRX Systems has contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army for application of its technology for soldiers in the field and in training, as well as contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is also developing new products on the military side, with more patents in the works.
Politi declined to give specific figures for its military contracts other than to say that the company has ongoing and new contracts worth in the “millions” of dollars.
The company is in the process of hiring two software developers in the area of mapping and center fusion. Politi expects the company to grow by 25 to 50 percent in employees within a year. The Chesapeake Regional Technology Council awarded TRX Systems its 2012 Innovation Award.
Source: Carol Politi, TRX Systems
Writer: Barbara Pash

Tech Networking Group Startup Grind Launches in Baltimore

Start Up Grind, an international community of entrepreneurs and investors, makes its debut this month in Baltimore. Loyola University of Maryland and Wasabi Venture are inaugurating the group here for monthly meetings, open to everyone interested in technology and startups.
The first local Start Up Grind will take place Sept. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Loyola University, 4501 North Charles St., in the Student Center’s fourth floor programming room. Brian Razzaque, CEO and inventor of SocialToaster, is the guest speaker.
“We were interested in the concept of getting entrepreneurs together, and Start Up Grind is also a way for us to be involved in that community,” said Kendall Ryan, director of events and outreach for Wasabi Ventures. The group serves as an outlet for entprepreneurs who want to network, brainstorm and offer feedback with one another. 
Start Up Grind began last year in Silicon Valley and has grown into an organization with chapters in more than a dozen cities in the U.S. and in countries ranging from Australia to the Union of South Africa. Ryan says that Start Up Grind Baltimore will host a monthly event although an October date has not yet been chosen.
Fee ranges from $10 (with early-bird registration) to $20 per person. The event is free to Loyola University undergraduates and graduates. Ryan says the reception so far has been enthusiastic and she expects at least 150 people at the first event.
Start Up Grind Baltimore joins another group that gives local entrepreneurs an opportunity to get together. Baltimore Tech Breakfast began last year as a casual get-together for about a dozen people and has since grown to a list of 1,000.
Ron Schmelzer, president of the tech company, Bizelo and founder of Baltimore Tech Breakfast, says about 250 people usually attend the monthly event. Meetings are held the last Wednesday of the month except for this month, when the meeting will be on Sept. 27. Meetings are free but pre-registration is required. 
Schmelzer says he started Baltimore Tech Breakfast as a way “to help increase the momentum of technology in Baltimore.” The group is not associated with any organization. Participants are invited to give short, three-minute talks about their companies.
Sources: Kendall Ryan, Wasabi Ventures; Ron Schmelzer, Bizelo
Writer: Barbara Pash

Johns Hopkins Researchers Develop Revolutionary Prosthetic Limb

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory researchers are talking with entrepreneurs about commercializing a revolutionary prosthetic limb that can be operated by a person's thoughts. 

The limb uses different mechanisms for brain control, including a brain/computer interface for spinal cord patients and surface electrodes for amputees. Researchers at APL and its five partners are essentially taking technology developed for the prosthetic limb and applying it to both spinal cord patients and to amputees. 
Michael McLoughlin, deputy business area executive for research and exploratory development at Laurel's APL declined to provide more information about the commercialization prospects, saying that “nothing has been signed.”  McLoughlin says that preparations are underway to demonstrate the brain/computer interface on human subjects, a first as far as he knows. Plans call for working with five patients with spinal cord injuries.

“Spinal cord patients have a break in the nerves that go from the arm to the brain. They can think about moving their arm but those signals have nowhere to go. Using electrodes, we measure the signals and figure put how to move the prosthetic arm by bypassing the break,” McLoughlin says.
The development of the mechanical prosthetic limb grew out of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, a federal defense initiative that began in 2006 and has a year left to go before the project ends. The program's goal is to expand prosthetic arm options for the military's "wounded warriors."  The U.S. Department of Defense has been funding the program for a total of about $100 million so far. The brain/computer interface is the final phase of the program and, McLoughlin says, data about its research has not yet been published.
APL’s research partners in the program are the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and School of Medicine, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, University of Utah and HDT Engineering Technologies, a private company in Ohio. 
The APL-led team of researchers have developed a modular prosthetic limb whose arm and hand are controlled by surface electrodes, in the case of amputees, and by a brain/computer interface, for spinal cord patients.

For spinal cord patients, physicians at the University of Pittsburgh will implant micro-electrodes in the brain of a paralyzed patient to record neural signals that control arm movement and to determine if the prosthetic arm can be controlled by the user’s thoughts.

The electrodes are inserted in the cortex of the brain. The prosthetic arm is mounted on a pedestal. The researchers developed the brain/computer interface by enhancing chip technology and combined it with algorithms to, as McLoughlin put it, “listen to and interpret what the brain is saying it wants to do.”
Earlier this year, for the first time and in cooperation with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Walter Reed Military Medical Center, a U.S. Army soldier who lost both legs and his left arm to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan demonstrated the use of the prosthetic limb.

The prosthetic limb was featured in the May cover story of Popular Mechanics magazine, which called it a "smart bionic limb" and its direct neural control "the endgame of bionics."
Source: Michael McLoughlin, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Writer: Barbara Pash

Bizelo Releases New Software For Small Businesses

Baltimore software company Bizelo is coming out this fall with two new applications designed to help retailers and other small business owners manage their inventory, sales, exchanges and returns.
CEO Ronald Schmelzer says the goal is to help small business-owners manage their companies better and at a lower cost than other available products. Schmelzer founded the privately-owned company in 2010 and released its first product last year. The two new applications will be out by October, and the company is on track to have a total of 34 software applications for various business operations by the end of this year. Each product costs less than $30 per month.
“These are not custom apps but they fit general situations,” says Schmelzer, who identifies industries that have a small-business focus, like physicians’ and dentists’ offices, retail stores and restaurants and develops software for them.
Bizelo’s electronic retail supply management application, one of the two new products, is intended to help small business owners buy products online from their vendors. Its return management system, the other new product, helps small businesses with the return/exchange process by generating return labels, keeping track of returns/exchanges and which items are most often sent back. 
Bizelo is located in a commercial building in Roland Park. Schmelzer is looking to hire two to three software developers within the next six months to add to the existing staff of six. 
Last June, he closed out a crowd-funding round that raised about $100,000. He is in the process of launching another financing round, aiming to raise $750,000 from angel and seed investors.
“There’s no reason we can’t develop hundreds of apps,” says Schmelzer.
Source: Ronald Schmelzer, Bizelo
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore Helicopter Services Adds To Fleet

Baltimore Helicopter Services this month added a second helicopter to its two-helicopter fleet. The executive charter service bought a twin-engine Bell 430 with a seating capacity of six, compared with its single-engine Bell 407s that hold five passengers.
Jessie Bowling, director of sales and marketing, says the $4 million Bell 430 was acquired in response to customer demand. From 2010 to 2011, sales increased by almost 65 percent, according to Bowling, who says that its Fortune 500 companies and other clients prefer twin-engine aircraft because they are faster and hold more passengers than single-engine aircraft.
Founded in 2004 by Dan Naor, the privately-financed Baltimore company has a “sister” company in Israel, Lahak Aviation, which runs a fleet of 10 helicopters and operates medevac, offshore and private helicopter transportation. In the U.S., only the latter is offered.
Baltimore Helicopter Services is located at Pier 7 Heliport in Canton, Maryland’s only public-use heliport. To charter the Bell 430 costs $3,500 per flight hour, all passengers included, plus an additional landing fee and pilot wait fee. The Bell 407 costs $1,800 per flight hour, plus additional fees. 
Bowling says the most popular executive charter is to New York City, slightly over an hour in flying time, where the company can make arrangements to land at three different heliports in Manhattan or at public airports. Other popular destinations are Atlantic City, N.J., universities (for meetings/conferences) and private residences.

Source: Jessie Bowling, Baltimore Helicopter Services
Writer: Barbara Pash
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