Do You Know a Tech Person Worthy of an Award?

The Baltimore Business Journal is taking nominations for their first Tech 10 awards. Their goal is to honor the top personalities that are helping the tech industry.

They plan to select ten people to be honored at their event on June 9th. The ten winners will then be featured in the paper the next day. Nominees can be absolutely anyone in the tech industry. They want technology professionals who have had an impact on their fields and have made significant accomplishments. They are looking for people who have pushed the boundaries of technology within their companies.

The nominee has to be someone who works in Baltimore City, or Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll or Harford counties. The deadline is April 8th.

Learn more about this opportunity and nominate someone!



Light City Baltimore Festival Coming Up

Be part of the Light City Baltimore festival at the Inner Harbor from March 28-April 3. It will include 50 concerts, dozens of speakers and a 1.5 mile light walk with the installation of artwork by 29 artists.

The event, organized by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, includes a vast array of activities. Parts & Labor, the farm-to-table Remington restaurant that is owned by Spike Gjerde will serve local fare, beer and win. The Blue Hour Bar will feature sliders and fries from Nickel Taphouse. El Taco Loco in the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar will serve Mexican crepes. Wit & Wisdom in the Four Seasons is Light City’s official bar and their lounge will offer a “Light City Menu” inspired by the light installations. Each of the food and beverage stops along the BGE Light Art Walk will also have local craft beer from Evolution Craft Brewing Co. and Full Tilt Brewing Co., BOTA Wine, Voss Water, and Stella Artois and Bud Light.

Come and join the fun.

Not Business as Usual During the Snow

Certainly, businesses take a beating when the snow starts to pile up, and this is what Baltimore recently experienced. The one area where businesses do seem to still be booming during the storms is the bars. As Taryn Williams at the Blue Agave said, “Business has been pretty consistent. The neighborhood has been supporting a lot of the restaurants around here, which we appreciate because it brings money to us as well. Everyone is out drinking, eating and just having a good time while they have some time off.”

Most businesses were certainly closed during the storm – but those that serve food and drink were smart to stay open. As Williams said, “As long as you can trek through the snow and have some snow boots. If you can get here, we’ll serve you.”

Most businesses are now hoping to get back to business as usual. Certainly, tax preparers, who are starting their busy season, are hoping that the parking spots in front of their businesses will soon reappear and that they can reschedule the appointments that were missed as the snow fell.



Fixt Has Fixed Its Financial Backing Question for the Year

A Baltimore smartphone repair startup called Fixt is doing just fine for itself. Founded by Luke Cooper and Christopher Garvis in 2013, they were recently hoping to raise $400,00.  They were overwhelmed by investor interest and ended up with $800,000 in 10 days. Contributors included investors in Silicon Valley, New York and Baltimore.

The new money will support Fixt through another year as they grow their business, CEO Luke Cooper said. Their mobile application is able to detect when a phone has been dropped or broken and will then assess the damage and start to work on fixing the device. Their goal is ultimately to “Uberize or professionalize the repair and replacement of mobile devices for IT departments,” as Cooper said.

He continued, “A real success target for us is to become the standard — the standard way of protecting mobile devices and fixing them when they break.”

Subscription Boxes are Booming in Baltimore

Happiest Little Baker, a new Baltimore-based subscription box, is having some success with the younger crowd. The idea is that a package of surprise dessert recipes arrives at their doorstep. It includes pre-measured ingredients needed to bake one item.

Founders Lindsey and Mike Maurath have designed the boxes to bring families together for quality time in the kitchen.

As Kreckel said, “It’s a really cool idea for kids who sort of love to do things in the kitchen. It’s a fun way to do something with them that takes little effort.”

Subscription boxes have been taking off in Baltimore with the wine-of-the-month clubs, the fruit-of-the-month choices and more. Some already standing businesses have launched the subscription boxes as a way to enhance their already-existing sales, and some companies are doing this as an entirely new venture.

One company, for instance, Mallow Crunchies, is a rice crispy treat maker. They started their subscription boxes on Black Friday, offering a three-month minimum subscription period for customers who want to be part of their Mallow of the Month Club. Subscriptions begin at $25 a month and each box has either six Mallow Crunches or three bags of Mallow Softies.

As Nikki Lewis, owner of Mallow Crunchies, explained “I’ve seen different companies do it and do it successfully, and I think it’s such a good source of revenue that a lot of people haven’t tapped into. We are always looking for ways to grow our online business and until the subscription box it was just a one-time sale.”

YogaWorks Buys Charm City Yoga

Charm City Yoga has just been bought by California-based YogaWorks. Charm City is owned by Kim Manfredi and Chris Blades. They opened their first studio in 2000 and have, subsequently opened other locations in Baltimore and the surrounding counties.

As Blades said, “For the last nine months or so, we’ve been trying to think how Kim and I could grow the business. We felt that we were kind of at the limit of what we could do without revolutionizing our business.”

Phil Swain, the CEO of YogaWorks, said that buying Charm City Yoga made sense as it helps YogaWorks to facilitate their growth.

As Swain said, “I think it was geographically a good strategy as we grow on the East Coast to kind of connect the dots,” Swain said, adding the studios’ philosophies aligned, too.

Those who already go to Charm City Yoga should know that the studios will now we rebranded with the YogaWorks name. They will add classes, but try to keep many of the same teachers.

Hopkins Unveils New App for Seizure Patients

Johns Hopkins researchers have recently unveiled a new medical research app that could help people to detect and manage epileptic seizures better. It’s a free app called EpiWatch that is designed for Apple watches and iPhones. It collects data from patients before, during and after a seizure occurs. As Dr. Gregory Krauss, professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explained,

“We foresee the app giving some parents the confidence to allow their children to play on their own. For some adults, using it might allow them, for the first time, to live safely alone.”

The app was developed from THREAD Research in tandem with Krauss and fellow researcher Dr. Nathan E. Crone, an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The back-end data solution for the app is from Acuma Health.

Renovations Complete for The Hunt Valley Inn

Baltimore’s seventh-largest hotel just finished its $15 million renovations. The Hunt Valley Inn is ready to show off its new look with an upgrade that includes a redesign of their Cinnamon Tree restaurant and to all of their 393 guest rooms. They also redesigned their 33,000 square foot convention hall and their common area amenities.

According to Andres Szita, chairman of Laurus Corp., an LA based real estate firm which acquired the hotel in 2013, the renovations have been well worth it.


Perceptive Navigation Secures Funding

A Baltimore medical device startup, Perceptive Navigation, has raised $500,000 to put towards securing federal regulatory approval of its ultrasound device.

They have been backed by the Maryland Venture Fund and the Abell Foundation. It is building on a $1.4 million grant from the NIH. The CEO Todd Chappell expects the approval to take place in late 2016.

Their device was developed by Dr. Theodore P. Abraham, a Johns Hopkins cardiologist. Perceptive will now be doing an animal study to test how effective it is and then a clinical study.

They are also hoping to get regulatory approval to sell the device in Europe.


Baltimore Trying to Draw Tourism Back

baltimore-217620_640April’s riots were certainly not a welcome gesture for Baltimore’s tourism and it’s showing. Baltimore hotel business is down this summer. Downtown hotels posted an average occupancy rate of 73.3% in June, down from 82.5% during the same month a year ago. The occupancy rate in May dropped 17.1% to 64.7%.

While the hotels have had a drop in occupancy, they are still holding firm on their pricing. The average daily rate for a room downtown increased 3.4% in June to $176.14.

The tourism arm of the city, Visit Baltimore, is working to bring tourism back to Baltimore. They are running Internet radio and newspaper ads across the mid-Atlantic to win back visitors. Visit Baltimore and the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore have waied the $150 marketing fee that restaurants usually pay to participate in the Summer Restaurant Week event. This week runs from July 24-August 2.