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Here is what you missed in 2022…

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Keynote Sessions
Featuring leading-edge, keynote speakers including:
Accelerate Your Imagination – Ignite Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Speaker: Clifton Taulbert, President & CEO, Freemount Corporation/Roots Java Coffee; Thrive15 mentor

According to our guest speaker, Clifton L. Taulbert, our IMAGINATION is the laboratory for INNOVATIVE IDEAS. Taulbert reminds us that every human has this incredible asset at her or his disposal—their ability to IMAGINE beyond what is known.


No Time to Buy – Pandemic, Prices, & Putin: What the Economy Has in Store for Us in 2022

Speaker: Anirban Basu, Ph.D. & J.D., Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, Inc.

COVID, war, inflation, shortages, and fear all seem to dominate our news feeds. But what are the most likely economic scenarios locally and globally? Join Baltimore’s leading economist Anirban Basu, Ph.D. & J.D., for an in-depth analysis of the economy’s shifts and what it means to you and your business tomorrow and for the years to come.


Reach for more – From CCBC to Silicon Valley and onto Google X: How Entrepreneurs Can Make a Difference

Speaker: Clarence Wooten, Entrepreneur in Residence at X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory

Join us for an inspirational and insightful discussion with Clarence Wooten, who began his entrepreneurial journey as a student at CCBC and founded a string to tech start-ups in Silicon Valley before joining X, Alphabet’s Moon Shot Factory (formerly known as Google X) in an effort to uplift people and communities. Discover how start-ups become unicorns … leverage the art of storytelling to attract capital and talent … and scale your ideas to make a difference in the lives of your people and your market.


Join us LIVE and in-person for the Baltimore area’s #1 Event for start-ups and business owners where you can…

ENGAGE: Meet face-to-face (once again!) with other smart, creative entrepreneurs and forward-thinking business owners who share a passion for innovative solutions.

THINK: Discover new & emerging ideas from today’s brightest minds that you can use.
BUILD: Take home practical strategies to help you grow your business.
Get more inspiration & practical guidance from dozens of top speakers in 3 concurrent breakout sessions to help you START, GROW or FUND your business.
Plus, attendees are invited to either pitch their business idea and win up to $5,000, or play the shark – all LIVE!
Topics Include:

Digital Marketing


Alternative Funding
Management Training
Financial Management
Design Thinking
Employee Development
Succession Planning
IP Protection
Leadership Strategies
Scenario Planning
Creativity & much more
Who Should Attend?
Business Owners & Entrepreneurs
CEOs, Presidents, VPs, Directors
C-suite Leaders & Managers
Investors and

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Breakout Sessions

Also featuring dozens of entrepreneurs & innovators including…

Download the 2022 Conference Guide book.

Think BOLDLY, Act Globally

Special Workshop: Scenario Planning for Entrepreneurs & Innovators of Odesa, Ukraine

Speakers: Oliver Schlake, Clinical Professor, University of Maryland, School of Business; Karina Mandell, Chairwoman, Baltimore-Odesa Sister City Committee; Alexander Chizhik, Esq., CEO, Global Operations Group President, Global Operations Group Ukraine Aid, Inc. (501(c)(3))

As the Russian invasion continues into Odesa, Ukraine – a sister city of Baltimore – attendees are invited to a special workshop, Scenario Planning for Entrepreneurs & Innovators of Odesa, Ukraine. Scenario planning is a strategy tool that explores the possible what-ifs for a future that is volatile, uncertain, and unpredictable. Discover how to apply the principles of scenario planning as you begin to develop new possibilities for Ukrainian entrepreneurs and innovators who have been devastated by the war with Russia. Attendees will emerge with a better understanding of how scenario planning can be used in their own local businesses while also doing good and providing a series of strategic roadmaps for a new future in Odesa. Afterwards, participants will be invited to continue the scenario planning process and provide mentoring support to entrepreneurs of Odesa.

Note: This workshop is limited to the first 35 attendees who choose to RSVP for this session. Invitations will be sent to all attendees June 1.

Help Support Odesa Now! 5,000 medical kits and humanitarian aid are needed immediately to support the people of Odesa, Ukraine. Donations can be made to BaltimoreSisterCities.org. Baltimore Sister Cities, Inc. is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and donations are tax-deductible.

Pitch Any Idea, Anytime, Anywhere – and Win the Deal!

Speaker: Keith & Rebecca Klein Scott, Founders, TALLsmall Productions

$ Grab the attention of funders.
$ Win their hearts and minds.
$ Land the “ask,” confidently and boldly!

Leave this engaging and powerful session with the 3 critical steps to craft and deliver an effective pitch.  Even the most experienced pitchers will want to participate and take back the same strategies that have yielded more than $1 million in investment deals for TALLsmall clients.

Profit First: Secrets to Grow Your Business & Earn More

Speaker: Kwame Kuadey, CEO & Founder, Thrive Company

Most business owners make the fatal mistake of focusing on the old formula, Revenue – Sales = Profit. The problem is that profit is considered last and maybe, just maybe, you get to pay yourself and cover your taxes. Kwame Kuadey, owner of Thrive Company and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” reveals a powerful principle others are using to increase profits 25%, pay themselves a regular salary and fall back in love with their business. You get:

•  5 key metrics that are often ignored, but can make an immediate impact on your bottom line.
•  Simple systems to ensure you’re paying your most valuable employee (that’s you!), first!
•  Every day principles you can apply to maintain your profit margins, sustain your cash flow, and grow!

Top 5 Social Media Strategies Every Entrepreneur Must Know

Speaker: Nicole Krug, Founder, Social Light

Social media creates a huge opportunity to for entrepreneurs to generate brand exposure, traffic to your site, engagement, followers and yes, even sales! But success on social media doesn’t come easy, and many small business owners make the same mistakes. Join Nicole Krug of Social Light as talks you through the dos and don’ts of social media. You’ll learn pitfalls to avoid, as well as gain insights on the top strategies her clients are using for success on social media.  Get out of the rut of just throwing up posts and hoping for the best; instead discover how to approach social media strategically to help your business grow.

Lending Experts Tell All! Practical Strategies to Get the Funding You Need

Speakers: Detra Miller, Business Banking & Regional Manager – Administrative VP M&T Bank; Tim Smoot, Senior Vice President, Meridian Management Capital Group; Robert “Bob” Wehland, SVP–Business Banking, Freedom FCU

To grow, you need capital. In this lively panel discussion, you get answers to critical questions so you can access low-cost funding sources with the flexibility you need to gain a competitive advantage. We’ve brought together the leading business funders in the area to pull back the curtain so you can find out how to:

•  Get an infusion of cash – fast!
•  Access low-interest loans with terms that best fit your business.
•  Finance your business – without putting your personal credit at risk.
•  Determine whether traditional or alternative funding options are best for you.
•  Put yourself into the best position to get a, “YES!”

VC Funding: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch & Close High Impact Deals

Speaker: Mustafa Wahid, Pitch Creator, Director of Operations, & Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Entrepreneurship 

As an entrepreneur of a start-up or growth company, you know you need to raise capital to scale. Not just any capital, you need venture capital to maximize your opportunity. Don’t worry. Discover how to leverage the same founder-tested formula that has already raised more than $70+million from accredited investors and institutional investors. In this fast-paced

•  The “tornado of chaos” most founders run into when building their pitch
•  The 3 types of pitches investors want to hear to open their checkbooks
•  The 5 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make When Pitching Investors (and how to avoid them)
•  The often-overlooked pitch that’s MORE important than your slide deck

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Buying into a Franchise

Speaker: Richard Bock, Market President, FranNet of Maryland/DC

When starting a new business, you have two choices: (1) begin on your own or, (2) buy into a franchise that already has a proven system. Discover the top 5 things you absolutely must consider before choosing from more than 3,600 franchises including how to:

1. Access 3 key sources to get funding
2. Choose a business, even if you have no experience in a particular industry
3. Pick the best franchise and model for you based on 4 critical factors
4. Determine the true costs of starting and operating a franchise
5. Perform the due diligence before signing a deal

Join us for this practical session with Richard Bock, a two-time successful franchise operator and franchise matchmaker who has coached dozens of entrepreneurs and operators over the last 10 years.

Unlocking the Mystery of Paid Search for Better Marketing Results

Speaker: Jai Amin, VP of Paid Search, Jellyfish

The time for describing the practice of advertising on Google, Facebook and LinkedIn as Digital Marketing is no more, we’re simply marketers in a digital world. Paid Search advertising is a critical component of any marketing strategy in 2022, we’ll take a look at the top ways to create, maintain and grow a successful Search campaign that can help scale your business. Take away the same strategies that have helped other companies increase conversion rates by 80% and cost per acquisition efficiencies by 50%.

Master Your Message!

Speaker: Rafael Mael, President, Maelstrom

Whether you’re a startup or scaling up, you need a bold message that sets you apart. But too many businesses struggle with messages that are too complicated, too boring, or too similar to everyone else’s. If your sales presentations are flat and your marketing feels dull, then this session is for you. Expect clear rules, real-world examples, and the same strategies that have helped other companies increase their sales by as much as 2X in just one year.

  • Retool your complicated narrative into a simple pitch
  • Make your prospects want to hear more by “wrapping the package”
  • Transform your message from irrelevant to on-point
3 Simple (but not always easy!) Steps to Launch any Product, Service or Business

Speaker: Dennis J. Sullivan, Executive Director, CCBC Center for Business Innovation & President, Breakthrough Pros

Discover the art and science to launch any product, service or business based on years of doctoral research and more than 25 years of experience that have generated more than $150 million. Join Dennis Sullivan as he reveals the same 3-step formula that have helped hundreds of clients turn their ideas into profitable business ventures. Join this lively and interactive session and find out how you can apply the same principles he has used to:

  1. Get your idea into the market quickly
  2. Generate leads without spending a fortune, and
  3. Convert qualified prospects into buyers

Plus, every attendee gets the One-Page Breakthrough Start-Up Plan you can use to launch your next big idea.

Future-proof Your Selling: Tactics and Tools to Generate More Prospects & Close More Deals

Speaker: Chris McDonell, Principal, McDonell Consulting Group/Sandler Training

The pre-pandemic days of relying on old-fashioned, face-to-face client meetings are long gone. Today, forward-thinking, pro-active salespeople are blending in-person meetings with the newest features from LinkedIn, Zoom, Teams, CRMs, and Vidyard just to name a few. Discover how to take advantage of the newest tactics and tools to get in front of more high-quality prospects and give yourself an edge over the competition. Chris McDonell, sales and leadership coach at Sandler Training, shares the same strategies his clients are using to increase profit margins 7-8% … boost Net Promoter Scores … and increase close rates 15-20%. This is real-world, practical guidance you can use right away.

Turn Your Part-time Gig into a Business: 7 Questions to Help You Know When to Go All-In

Speaker:  Jennifer Smith Funn, Regional Director for Baltimore City and Baltimore County for the Maryland Small Business Development Center

More businesses are being started today than ever before. Many begin as a side-hustle or a part-time gig. But at what point do you make the leap and leave the comfort and security of your regular job and go all-in as an entrepreneur? How can you minimize the risks? What can you do to validate and test your roll-out plan first? Do you really need funding to make the commitment? How can you build a network to support you? How much “skin in the game” should you realistically expect? How can you determine whether you are truly committed to turn you gig into a real business? Get the answers to these 7 critical questions from Jennifer Smith Funn, who has successfully launched 2 of her own businesses, and now helps others do the same as SBDC’s Regional Director.

Government Contracting: How to get started & land profitable opportunities

Speakers: Carla Nelson Chambers, Managing Principal, The Nelson Ideation Group;  Joe Giordano, Founder, Project Opportunity

More than $230 billion in upcoming contracting opportunities are anticipated this fiscal year, once again making the U.S. government the largest buyer in the world. Yet, many qualified businesses miss out on profitable and steady business opportunities in the Baltimore-DC market simply because they just don’t know how to begin. Join contracting experts, Joe Giordano and Carla Nelson Chambers, as they reveal:

  1. A step-by-step guide for start-ups to get certified as a state and federal contractor.
  2. Tactics certified businesses can use to win opportunities that deliver the highest ROI.
  3. Strategies businesses owned by veterans, women and minorities can use to land more opportunities.
  4. Tips to find prime partners and take advantage of the huge subcontractor market.
  5. And much more.
Innovative solutions to Recruit & Retain Your Top Talent

Speakers: Christina DePasquale, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Practice, Johns Hopkins University, Carey School of Business; Kristen Parks, Co-Founder & CEO, Eleven Peppers Studios

The Great Resignation has created great frustration for many business owners. First, learn what is really driving employees to quit or take new jobs from one of the country’s leading micro-economics researchers, Christina DePasquale, Ph.D. The data might surprise you! Then, find out how one innovative business owner with now 60 employees is achieving a 90% retention rate as her company continues to grow 35% YoY. Takeaways include how to:

  • Better understand what’s really pushing workers to leave the workforce – and how to retain your best and brightest.
  • Attract candidates who will most likely “buy into” your culture – without dangling hefty signing bonuses.
  • Combine virtual networking with a human touch for a very powerful recruitment strategy.
  • Develop an effective elevator pitch to grab the attention of your top prospects – and avoid hiring expensive recruiters.
  • Balance recruiting with vetting during your first meeting to save you and your team valuable time in the hiring process.
IP in Entrepreneurship: How to Protect & Capitalize on Your Ideas

Speaker: Tariq Najee-ullah, Founder, Patent Insider

The short-term need for revenue, customers and traction often overshadows the need to protect your IP, but that can lead to costly battles later. Join one of the area’s top IP and patent experts who will share his best low-cost strategies to save start-ups from IP disasters. Find out how to:

  • Determine whether your idea falls under the protections of a trademark, copyright or patent.
  • Protect trade secrets using Non-Disclosure Agreements. What works and what doesn’t?
  • Take advantage of licensing agreements.
  • Engage employees & collaborators the right way when creating & using IP.
  • Use the patent process to your advantage.
  • And much more.
Access to Capital: How to Land the Big Checks from VC and Equity Investors

Speakers: Frank Glover, Operator & Venture Capital Investor; McKeever (Mac) Conwell, II, Founder & Managing Partner at RareBreed Ventures

Join this eye-opening panel discussion as two of the most influential VC managers discuss their own journeys landing huge investments from VCs and their advice to other entrepreneurs and business owners. Get rare insights as McKeever (Mac) Conwell, II and Frank Glover pull the curtain back to share everything you need to know to get the capital you might need to launch or grow your next big idea!& collaborators the right way when creating & using IP.

Alternative Funding Options: How to Get Access to Capital When Traditional Lenders say, “No!”

Speakers: Angela Neira, Director of Small Business Lending, Life Asset Inc.; Clarence Campbell, EVP of Sales, Lendistry

Starting and growing a business can be a challenge if you don’t have access to capital. Traditional lenders often want to see several years of income from the business or at the very least personal collateral to back a loan. But if you’re an entrepreneur who is spending money to try and make money, you may be too much of a risk for traditional lenders. Alternative lenders may be another solution to get the financing you need. Discover what alternative lenders require … how much capital you can obtain … how you can use the money to grow your business … and whether alternative lending makes sense for you.

New speakers continue to be added every week. Check back for updates.
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