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Howard Community College Students Square Off in Entrepreneurial Competition at Howard County Chamber of Commerce

In the television show “Shark Tank,” aspiring entrepreneurs have only a short time to wow the judges and win funding. For entrepreneur students at Howard Community College, a similar fast-paced pitch competition takes place each semester, with prize money offered to the top students to cover business start-up costs or pay for college courses. For the first time ever, seasoned student competitors – the top students from this year’s “Pinnacle Pitch” competitions at the college – squared off Thursday, May 21 before a room of business leaders at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s 46th annual meeting luncheon.

Business leaders listened intently as four Howard Community College entrepreneur students shared their plans for new businesses. After tallying the ballots, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce declared student Max Fashola as the winner with his idea for an apparel business, V.I.N.T.A.G.E., which seeks to reach young people through fashion to connect them to a higher purpose.

The Chamber awarded Fashola a prize package of consulting services donated by local business leaders, including:

  • One hour business planning/operations guidance provided by Patrick Shurney, Howard County Chamber of Commerce board member and senior vice president and Chesapeake region market leader at Sandy Spring Bank
  • One hour accounting/finance consulting provided by Mitch Phillips, Howard County Chamber board
  • One hour business planning/strategy provided by Ron Meliker, past chair of the Howard County Chamber Board of Directors and CEO at Meliker Consulting
  • One hour legal consulting provided by Bill Erskine, Howard County Chamber board member and legal counsel, and attorney/principal at Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law
  • One hour sales and marketing guidance provided by Jean Parker, Howard County Chamber board member and general manager at Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • One hour networking and community involvement consulting provided by Jeff Agnor, Howard County Chamber Board of Directors incoming chair and attorney at Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, LLC

“The Howard County Chamber is proud of our partnership with Howard Community College and is pleased we were able to assist in the learning process for these students,” said Leonardo McClarty, president and CEO, Howard County Chamber of Commerce. “The Howard County business community firmly supports education on all levels as evidenced by our participation and the consulting services provided by our members." 

The other student competitors were Mahnoor Sheikh for Mothers for Education, which will provide funds for education to mothers in Pakistan through exporting scarves that the mothers sew; Alexsander Petrov for Pheidi, a running rewards app; and Glenn Lucas for 3rd Day Vineyards, which seeks to provide aspiring vintners the education and facilities necessary to make wine.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity our students had to pitch their start-ups to our business community,” said Betty Noble, director of the Howard Community College Center for Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence. “They have grown in their ability to communicate, met key community stakeholders, and most importantly reached a new level of leadership, confidence and self-awareness through this entire experience. I look forward to seeing them continue to grow and contribute to Howard County’s vibrant economic environment."

Students in the competition took Howard Community College’s introductory entrepreneurship and creativity course, which is part of a holistic, individualized approach to entrepreneurship education offered on campus and online. With associate degrees, a certificate, and a letter of recognition available in entrepreneurship, Howard Community College provides classes for aspiring and established business leaders. For more information, visit

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