Startup Entrepreneur Muses About TEDCO Expo Experience

It was October 25th, 2017.   At TEDCO EXPO hundreds of entrepreneurs, vendors, investors and partnerships were animatedly discussing their visions, passions and plans. The place vibrated with expectancy and optimism rooted in creativity, commitment and terror all at once.

TEDCO Expo demonstrated that Maryland has many public-private partnerships trying to reach out to the innovators, seeking ways to boost entrepreneurs, in a fast-paced and ever-changing ecosystem: the event was awash in incubators (are we eggs?) and accelerators (are we rolling balls in a pinball machine?). The presenters gave the hundreds of participants all sorts of tips and showed best and not-so-good practices, and if nothing else we came away with the lingo to use as we pitch to potential investors (”the corporate”) by being targeted – creative – homegrown – networked – sustainable…  We have to define the value proposition and find the sweet spot, enthusiastically and back up by data.

The stories shared in the many presentations can be summed up as follows:

I had a vision of a solution; We saw an answer to a need; There was an opportunity just waiting for us…So I got to work; so we started designing; so we listened and identified where we fit in.

We struggled hard with the elements arising that were so new to us, but that was balanced – just barely – by what we were sure we knew.

Here’s where we tripped up and how we picked ourselves up. Here’s who guided us, supported us, believed in us. Here’s where we failed and had to change direction. Here’s where we succeeded.

The best pitch session was given by Veronique Marier and Mike Thielke, and it was inspiring to witness them receiving the first award of the Incubation Challenge funding out of six finalists announced that day.

Backing was important – a ready-made team in the form of family, a powerful education developing deep skills, and life-experience (such as international travel and military service). Stamina, optimism, and faith in one’s capacity to transform a vision into reality: indispensable.

Many ideas were on display searching for investors. Many products were already available and only needed outlets, buyers, partners for distribution.

Underlying all this was money: a few had it and many needed it…  Everything seemed possible for a while at the Baltimore Hilton. Good luck to all!

Suzi Peel  Co-Founder at Better Way Transport Hub
TEDCO and ESEC mentee at hotDesks/Easton