Startup Maryland Bus Eyes Ocean City Return

SNOW HILL — The Startup Maryland bus is headed back to Worcester County next week and the expectation is that more entrepreneurs will be lining up to pitch their ideas for a new business this year, perhaps twice as many as 2013.

Startup has been well received by Worcester and the only improvement the county would ask for is that the bus visits more than once per year.

The pitch bus has been rolling across the state for three years but 2013 was the first time that it wheeled across Worcester.

“Last year was actually the first year that Worcester County Economic Development (WCED) was involved. We had about five people come out last year and do pitches,” said Merry Mears, deputy director.

Meeting the bus in front of the Boardwalk Arch in Ocean City, the five entrepreneurs had the chance to record a video proposal for a new business that they would like to launch if given the funding and opportunity. Creativity and originality are critical since the video pitches are posted online and open to voting. The best received ideas were then granted awards and recognition.

The program has proven popular in the county and Mears confirmed this week the WCED is expecting six to 10 prospective moguls to visit the bus next Monday when it again pulls up to the Boardwalk Arch.

“If you give them the platform to share [their ideas], especially with investors, people get really excited,” said Mears. “I’ve heard it several times this year and last year, ‘what do I have to lose?’”

Though the main appeal is being able to make a video pitch that will be shared online with potential investors, Mears noted that the gathering represents a great networking opportunity for would-be and existing business owners.

“[Entrepreneurs are] so interesting and energetic and when you get a bunch of them in one place like we will have Monday morning they all network together,” she said. “They meet each other and see how their businesses could complement each other. It’s just a really neat and fun time.”

With the expectation of roughly double the turnout from last year, Mears sees the effort growing to have a bigger impact on small business in Worcester.

“I’d like to see it come more than once a year,” said Mears. “It’s so new and there’s been such a good response it would warrant it coming more than once a year.”

Both area business owners and prospective entrepreneurs are invited to meet the bus Monday at 9 a.m. at N. Division Street on the Boardwalk. More information is available by contacting Mears 410-632-3112 or by visiting