SALISBURY, MD—Through its Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition, Salisbury University has awarded more than $1 million to dozens of business startup owners and CEOs throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
This spring, the program celebrated its first CWO.
That’s “Chief Waffle Officer,” a title Chi Yan bestowed upon himself as the owner of Walt’s Waffles. The Washington, D.C.-based pancake and waffle mix company, named for Yan’s middle son, was the big winner of this semester’s Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery event, earning $30,000 in business funding.
Yan impressed the competition’s judges not only with his business expansion plan, but with his creativity in inventing Walt’s Waffles’ signature product, the Original Waffle Bun.
“Our unique waffle was achieved through countless design iterations and prototypes to create the right shape that holds up to the messiest eaters and customers on-the-go,” he said. “Its rounded form, with signature hashtag pattern, not only looks attractive, but is an ideal size to balance with sandwich builds.”
The spring 2020 Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery competition, held virtually for the first time as part of SU’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, drew some 50 applicants from throughout the Mid-Atlantic and awarded $105,000 in prize money to seven of the businesses selected to compete. Other winners included:
- Ferretly – Darrin Lipscomb: web platform leveraging artificial intelligence to analyze social media posts to protect brands, employees and profits, from Easton, MD – $25,000
- K9 Precision, LLC – Mitch Fletcher with Chris McCabe: “Precision Training Collar” and other innovative dog training products, from Eden, MD – $17,000
- RunMitts, LLC – Susan Clayton: manufacturer of convertible thumbless sports mittens, from Baltimore – $17,000
- CarrTech, LLC – Sue Carr with John Brzezenski, Terri Lopatka, Gary Lopez and John Nazzaro: medical preparation device company with a prototype filter for medications packaged in glass ampules, from Frederick, MD – $10,000
- Door Robotics – Patrick Crowe with Josh Ermias and Vincent Jaugan: autonomous 360-degree camera drone and software package provider for virtual tours, from College Park, MD – $5,000
- LemonadeLove, LLC – Edwina “Eee” and Lisa “Zee” Arenas: locally sourced fruit, vegetable and herbal lemonade manufacturer, from Fort Meade, MD – $1,000
In addition to funding, winners and participants also receive mentoring support from the program’s board. Mentors include business leaders such as Chris Perdue of Perdue Farms, Inc.; Mike Cottingham of Rommel Chesapeake, Inc.; Kathy Kiernan and Patricia Royak, members of SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Executive Advisory Council; and Jennifer Layton of Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery.
William Burke, SU director of Shore Hatchery and executive director of economic development, thanked the board members and judges for their commitment to the program and their fellow business owners and encouraged all of this year’s competitors to continue honing their ideas.
“This is a great time for entrepreneurs,” he said. “When there are challenging times, they have the opportunity to step up with ideas, innovations and solutions. That’s when we’re most needed as entrepreneurs.”
Other judges also provided support for the entrants.
“A big part of entrepreneurship is just putting yourself out there, taking the risks, getting the ideas and acting on them, jumping off that cliff and going in feet first,” said Perdue. “Whether you received funding today or not, it’s fantastic that you’ve come out … and taken some risks.”
“I was thrilled with the diversity of ideas: consumer products, food, science fashions, and even the diversity of the spirit of the individuals here,” said Royak. “It was really exciting.”
This round’s winners join the program’s 58 previous award recipients, who have self-reported estimated 2019 profits of some $26.2 million, creating more than 373 jobs.
The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery program was established with an initial $1 million contribution in 2013. In 2017, the Ratcliffe Foundation announced a second $1 million gift to continue the Shore Hatchery through spring 2023. It is administered through SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business. Its goal: to fund entrepreneurs and have new businesses opening within six months, with the potential of employing three or more within three years.
Up to $200,000 annually is available for those applying for grants through the Shore Hatchery program. Its board of directors selects recipients based on presentations.
For more information call 410-546-4325 or visit the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery website at www.salisbury.edu/shore-hatchery.