BALTIMORE, MD (October 24, 2016) – Seven different statewide cyber communities today announced the creation of CyberUSA, a new national platform for collaboration in economic development and innovation, and plans to expand the effort to include 30 states within the first year. The announcement was made Thursday, October 20th during a special session at the CyberMaryland 2016 Conference.

CyberUSA, will be chaired by Governor Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security and Chairman of Ridge Global. The group will coordinate public and private efforts across different states and communities to ensure American leadership in cybersecurity by shaping the education, innovation and policy landscapes at both the state and federal levels.

CyberUSA also will develop a national threat-sharing platform to enable different cyber communities to begin threat-sharing programs. The collected data can then be shared with other regions, and will be accumulated at the national level for working with federal leaders. CyberUSA will initially include CyberMaryland as well as existing cyber communities in California, Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado.

Former US Commerce Undersecretary Phil Bond will serve as executive director of the group, while former Symantec government relations executive Adam Rak will serve as national policy director.

“It is imperative that American communities pull together on cybersecurity,” said Governor Ridge. “This is the new battlefront for both national security and economic security.  That’s why we need to organize better nationally to get our private sector working together to compare notes, share solutions, and identify threats.”

Bond explained that the new group’s mission will have three facets: programs and policies to spur innovation, education and economic development centered on cyber security; threat-sharing to increase security at the local and national levels; and bundled affinity programs, starting with cyber insurance.

“A national association of associations can help expedite best practices, share threat intelligence, and leverage buying power to help companies better manage cyber risk,” Bond added.

The seven core states (Maryland, California, Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado) will comprise the CyberUSA board. The inaugural board also will include the University of Maryland, and will be open to leaders from industry, academia and government.

Federal programs such as the National Security Agency-sponsored NSA Day of Cyber and the National Initiative on Cyber Education led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are natural partners with the private sector, Bond said.
The project will be housed under a 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation for American Science and Technology, that was founded in 2014 by Bond, former Obama Cyber Adviser Howard Schmidt, and former Symantec executive Adam Rak.

CyberMaryland is widely recognized as being the first mover to form a state-based cyber community, built on the state’s mix of public and private cyber security leaders. Today, it is the largest such community and host of the largest industry annual gathering.

Phil Bond || 202-827-4204
David Powell | | 240-841-2210

Media Recap: CyberMaryland Summit 2016

LogoColorTextBelow (2)PR Solutions Strategic Marketing & Corporate Event Planning Company wrapped up its work on the CyberMaryland Summit, a two-day cyber conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The event, which is in its sixth year, includes a cyber conference, job fair, industry showcase, networking event, and hall of fame dinner. PR Solutions has a strategic partnership with the event host, the Federal Business Council, Inc. (FBC), an organization that provides meeting and conference support for the Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community, and Federal Civilian Agencies.

For the second year in a row, PR Solutions provided the following services for CyberMaryland: Strategic Planning, Agenda Architecture, Speaker Recruitment & Support, Event Marketing, Media Relations, Public Relations, and Social Media Management.

Among the 90+ speakers recruited to participate were several national and international cyber thought-leaders. To see a complete list visit here.

For over six months, PR Solutions worked with the team at FBC to create an informative event that attracted media coverage from C-SPAN, CNN, NBC, FOX and CBS local and Washington DC affiliates. In addition, print and on-line publication coverage were provided by The Baltimore Business Journal, The Baltimore Sun, Cyberwire and several other local organizations.


National Security Agency and US Cyber Command Chief, Admiral Michael Roger’s keynote address held on Thursday, October 20th during the opening session of the event was a major draw that generated live coverage from national media outlets. Below are excerpts from C-SPAN’s coverage as provided on the network’s website and DoD News.

To see the complete keynote address on C-SPAN visit here.


[Pictures Below: Admiral Michael Rogers, NSA/CSS & Chief, US Cyber Command; Gary Merry, CEO, Deep Run Security; Hamilton Turner, Senior Director of Research and Engineering, OptioLabs; Gregg Smith, CEO, OptioLabs; and, Marianne Bailey, Deputy Chief Information Officer, DoD]

The Washington Post – Cyber security conference beginning in Baltimore – October 20, 2016


The Baltimore Sun – Experts: Network and data security should be a C-suite concern October 21, 2016

The Baltimore Sun – NSA chief: Cyber adds ‘whole other dimension’ to Russia’s attempts to manipulate U.S. affairs – October 21, 2016

Executive Gov –Adm. Michael Rogers: Human Capital is Biggest Cyber Challenge – October 21, 2016

The Baltimore Business Journal – NSA director: Cybersecurity talent pipeline remains top challenge – October 20, 2016


The Baltimore Business Journal – Baltimore cybersecurity exec explains what caused the wave of attacks on Friday – October 21, 2016


The Baltimore Business Journal – Why government agencies, cyber companies need to evolve to attract millennials – October 21, 2016 (Subscription needed)


The Baltimore Business Journal – Cybersecurity degrees aren’t enough for today’s jobs, industry execs say – October 21, 2016 (Subscription needed)

The Business –  Cyber security experts set to go Stateside – October 12, 2016 – Motivation, Talent Remain Strongest Elements of Network Defense – October 25, 2016 – U.S. Cyber Command acquisition experiment begins broader cyber self-assessment – October 21, 2016

The Baltimore Business Journal – Want to make six figures? Local cyber salaries are expected to spike in 2017 – October 26, 2016

The Baltimore Sun- Millennials under-represented in federal workforce as a retirement boom looms – October 28, 2016


Ridge Global – Regional Cyber Groups Launch New Entity – CyberUSA – October 20, 2016

Delta Risk Blog – Sights and Sounds of CyberMaryland 2016 – October 22, 2016

Ray Longoria – CyberMaryland Conference 2016 Recap – October 22, 2016


CyberWire has added the coverage to their Event Coverage page:

Direct link to #CyberMD2016 coverage:

Admiral Rogers article:

Michael Chertoff article:

Comments/notes from some of the companies CyberWire spoke with at the event:

Podcast Coverage:

On 10/20/16, CyberWire featured Tom Sadowski when their podcasted from the event:

On 10/21/16, CyberWire shared some advice from the Cyber Security Hall of Fame:

On 10/25/16, CyberWire caught up with Malcom Harkins of Cylance at the event and featured him this day:


CyberMaryland Panel: Shedding Light on the Dark Web, Threat Intelligence Enabled Workforce – October 28, 2016

Special thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, media representatives, and special guests who dedicated their time and expertise to making the event a success. Congratulations to the FBC team.

This document will be updated weekly with newly released coverage.

To learn more about PR Solutions’ services call Michelle Jackson, CEO at 678-548-2461 or email

2016 i.Invest National Youth Business Competition Winners Announced


Businesses from left to right: MoTrack, Beacon, RapidFire & Hopes for the Best.

PR Solutions LLC today announced the winners of the first annual i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. Mentored by a group of volunteer business and academic leaders from organizations, including Google, SEI Investments and Johns Hopkins University, four teams were selected from a pool of more than 25 to compete in a six-month web-based competition in order to qualify for the top prize.

This year’s winners are:

  • First Place Beacon (formerly Atrium). Developed by Shrenik Jain, a 19-year-old Baltimore, MD resident. Beacon is a mobile platform that offers anonymity and support to those suffering from mental health issues. Prize: $2,000 non-equity investment, title of Invest 2016 Youth Business of the Year and the opportunity to pitch at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
  • Second Place – MoTrack Therapy. Developed by Rahul Yerrabelli, 18, Benjamin Pikus, 18, Himanshu Dashora, 18, Parth Singh, 19 and Adam Polevoy,19, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. MoTrack is a virtual reality software that has revolutionized the way patients can receive physical therapy for hand and wrist injuries. Prize: $1,000 non-equity investment
  • Third Place – RapidFire. Developed by Marc Baghadjian, 17, from Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT. RapidFire is an automated air-soft gun clip with the capacity to increase bullets to 400 per round, making the air-soft sport experience completely hands-free for users. Prize: $500 non-equity investment
  • Community Investment Award – Hopes for the Best. Developed by Cheyenne Rhone, 15, from West Mifflin High School in West Mifflin, PA. Hopes for the Best designs a fashion survival bracelet made from a special material called para cord 550 that can safely hold up to 500 lbs. Prize: $250 non-equity investment;opportunity to observe a BlueTree Allied Angels screening meeting and to participate in a one-hour consulting session with serial entrepreneur and executive director/chairman, Don Morrison; face-to-face legal consultation from Cherin Law Firm in Pittsburgh, PA and e-commerce consultation from LaToya C. Staten & Associates in Baltimore, MD.

In addition, all the winners will receive a one-hour marketing consultation with PR Solutions LLC; the opportunity to be a vendor and/or speaker during the #EYECON Youth Conference in May 2017 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD; and, the opportunity to participate in a “Ask the Start-Up Attorney” no-fee virtual consultation with Cherin Law Firm.

“To say the competition exceeded our expectation is an understatement,” said executive director, Michelle Jackson. “We set out to create a mentoring program focused on bridging the gap between youth entrepreneurs with viable products and experienced business leaders. However, what we ultimately have is a way to shine a light on creative ideas being developed by the next generation of innovators – youth who learn through this process that no matter their age, geographical location or educational accomplishments, creating a great product can transcend all perceived limitations.”

The i.Invest competition is open to youth 13 to 19 years old with a demonstrable product or service. During the three rounds of scoring, applicants are required to submit a business concept profile, business plan, pitch video and participate in on-line group coaching with select judges.

“i.Invest doesn’t end with the awarding of prizes,” said Jackson. “Now that the winners have completed the process, they will continue to have access to our mentors. We are here to help them reach their personal and professional goals.”

The 2017 i.Invest competition will be launched in the coming months. To receive event updates and sponsorship information visit the i.Invest website or contact Michelle Jackson at

Special thanks to the i.Invest 2016 Judges & Mentors

Artis Keith Turner, Serial Entrepreneur, President of TurnGroup Technologies, LLC, 2015 Innovation Fellowship for the Venture Café & YouthCITIES Youth

Craig Dixon, AWS Educate, Amazon Web Services

Curtis H. Austin, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton

Daraius Irani, Associate VP, DIAR of Towson University

David Tucker, Jr., Founder & Executive Director, On The Set Summer Film Camp

Don Morrison, Chairman of Deal Flow, BlueTree Allied Angels

Dr. Mansur Hasib, Professor and Author, University System of Maryland

Dr. Tamecka Knight, CEO & Owner, Premier Pediatrics of Houston

James Parren Courtney II, Owner, Courtney Consultants, LLC

Jennifer Mrzlack Co-founder, Naturi

Jerry Cozewith, Director of Development, Sarah Heinz House

Julie Kantor, CEO and Founder, Twomentor LLC

Ketaki Desai, Executive Director, eCenter@LindenPointe

LaToya Staten, Chief Collaborator, LaToya C. Staten & Associates

Matthew Miessau, Analyst, Epidarex Capital

Mike Capsambelis, Product Manager, Google

Mojdeh Bahar, Assistant Administer for Technology Transfer, USDA

Omar S. Muhammad, “Intrapreneur” & Director of the Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center (EDAC), Morgan State University

Professor Jim Liew, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Regina Tillery, Director and CIO, Maryland Department of Commerce

Roderick Square, General Electric Hitachi

Susan R. Ramonat, Business Development Executive, Chief Risk Officer, SEI Investment

Timothy Taylor, CPA

Vernon Lee, Founder, Brightwood Management Partners, LLC

About PR Solutions LLC

PR Solutions LLC is a strategic marketing and corporate event planning firm that specializes in working with new and established ventures to build viable business models and to integrate innovative marketing tools into for-profit and non-profit business strategies. PR Solutions is the parent company of the i.Invest competition. To learn more, visit

10 Reasons Not to Miss CyberMaryland 2016


For the sixth year, the CyberMaryland Summit continues to offer a unique cyber security information sharing venue. Designed to bring together cyber technologists, job-seekers, educators, government and industry leaders, the two-day event was created to encourage cyber professionals to share their skills and expertise, network with other professionals from the region and beyond, and seek collaborative ways to address the most critical challenges facing the nation’s network security infrastructure.

Scheduled for October 20 and 21 at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, CyberMaryland, a cyber conference, job fair, networking event and hall of fame dinner, will continue its mission to inform and educate hundreds of business, government and academic leaders.

Each year the conference attracts a host of cyber-savvy professionals. This year’s event is designed to inspire collaboration among network security professionals from across the US and abroad.

There are countless reasons not to miss the CyberMaryland Summit, but here’s our top 10:

  • Cyber-attacks cost businesses as much as $400 billion a year. CyberMaryland brings together cyber leaders who are focused on addressing the most pressing issues facing network security and the protection of national and global government and industry infrastructures.
  • More than 209,000 cyber security jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and job postings are up 74% over the past five years. CyberMaryland does its part to expose the next generation of cyber leaders to job seekers at companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Delta Risk, DISA, General Dynamics and many others during the Cyber Job Fair scheduled for October 20 from 11 am – 3 pm at the Hilton Baltimore.
  • Maryland is the epicenter of cyber security. Within a 50-mile radius of the host venue is federal agencies, academic institutions and business organizations that are mission critical to network security. CyberMaryland is held in the region’s cyber innovation hub – the “Mecca” of network security expertise.
  • The tools and skills required to combat cyber threats continue to evolve. CyberMaryland offers several sessions designed to showcase new cyber technologies. For the second year, the conference will host the Cyber Defense Toolbox, a session designed to highlight cyber tools no organization should be without. The panel will include: OptioLabs, Inc. (Baltimore, MD), SparkCognition, Inc. (Austin, TX), Flashpoint (New York, NY), Portnox (US & Israel) and root9B (Colorado Springs, CO). Furthermore, attendees can learn about Watson, IBM’s new technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.
  • Speakers are set to tackle cyber topics critical to the detection, protection, derailment and recovery from cyber-crimes. CyberMaryland is composed of seven forums – Cyber Risk, Cyber Education, Cyber Threat Intelligence, Cyber Innovation, Insider Threats, Government Cyber Opportunities and Cyber Workforce – that are essential to educating the public about cyber security.
  • Every organization is at-risk, no matter the size. During the Cyber Risk Forum, attendees will learn about risk and vulnerabilities that threaten networks from all size organizations. No company or government agency is immune from cyber-crime.
  • Information sharing is key. The two-day conference is a platform for information sharing among key thought-leaders. This years’ roster of speakers include: Admiral Michael S. Rogers, US Navy, Commander, US Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency (NSA) and Chief, Central Security Service (CSS); The Honorable Michael Chertoff, former US Secretary of Homeland Security and Executive Chairman and Co-founder, The Chertoff Group; John C. Inglis, Venture Partner, Paladin Capital Group, former Deputy Director, NSA and visiting professor in cyber security at the Center for Cyber Security Studies, US Naval Academy; Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA Director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN); Graham Holmes, Senior Director, Advanced Security Initiatives Group, Cisco Systems; and Dante Disparte, Founder and CEO, Risk Cooperative. In addition, cyber leaders from CrowdStrike, T. Rowe Price, Forcepoint, Sonatype, KEYW Corporation, Lockheed Martin and Cylance will present during the conference. To see the complete list of speakers, visit the website.
  • Network, network, network. The night before the conference starts, hundreds of cyber leaders will meet and mingle at the CyberTini Networking Event hosted by bwtech@UMBC. Scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 19 from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Columbus Center (Pier Five) in downtown Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, attendees can connect with conference speakers and key cyber professionals.
  • Respect the Past, Protect the Future. The National Cyber Security Hall of Fame awards banquet will be held October 20 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the Hilton Baltimore. Attendees can witness the induction of seven cyber pioneers into the Hall of Fame.
  • October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and there is no better place to learn about cyber security than CyberMaryland 2016.

Registration is available. Government employees attend free.

For more information contact Michelle D. Jackson, CyberMaryland Agenda Architect and Owner/CEO of PR Solutions LLC Strategic Marketing & Corporate Event Planning,, 678-548-2461,

Global Cyber Leaders set to convene at 6th Annual CyberMaryland Summit


Annual conference, industry showcase, job fair and National Cyber Security Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to be held during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October.

(Baltimore, Md. – Sept. 13, 2016) – Hundreds of cybersecurity industry leaders will gather in Baltimore for the sixth annual CyberMaryland Summit, showcasing the growing cyber industry and the issues and trends facing it. Held during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, this summit comprises a multi-faceted conference, industry showcase, job fair and awards celebration. The CyberMaryland Summit is recognized as one of the region’s premier collaborative platforms for information sharing among cyber professionals in the industry, government and academic sectors.

Scheduled October 20 and 21 at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel, CyberMaryland 2016 will continue in the conference’s tradition of showcasing new cyber technologies, promoting cyber employment and celebrating the work of prominent cyber pioneers and next-generation leaders.

“We’ve seen a huge leap in the awareness of cyber security as a true business issue,” said David Powell, chairman of the CyberMaryland Summit Advisory Board. “From risk management, policy, threat sharing, training, legal issues and the commitment to develop the next generation’s cyber workforce, Maryland has a tremendous ecosystem for addressing these issues from all angles – from the server room to the board room.”

New this year, the conference will open its doors to cyber delegations from the United Kingdom and Israel as part of the countries’ effort to connect business and academic leaders to top US government and industry professionals.

“Maryland is a cybersecurity powerhouse,” said Col. Ken McCreedy, USA (Ret.), senior director of cyber and aerospace at the Maryland Department of Commerce. “With the federal government’s premier cyber-related agencies, an environment in which entrepreneurs and industry leaders alike can succeed, and an unrivaled community of researchers and educators, Maryland is the place to be for cyber. The CyberMaryland Summit brings many of these resources together under one roof, and we’re pleased to be part of it.”

Maryland, which is globally recognized as the epicenter for cybersecurity and a hub for innovative cyber technologies, has a long and prestigious history of being in the forefront of tackling network security challenges and maintaining a strong cyber ecosystem. CyberMaryland 2016 offers the community an opportunity to meet in a face-to-face environment, share priorities, develop relationships and collaborate in the work being done within the state’s borders and across the globe.

Among this year’s notable speakers:

  • Adm. Michael S. Rogers, US Navy, Commander, US Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency (NSA) and Chief, Central Security Service (CSS);
  • The Honorable Michael Chertoff, former US Secretary of Homeland Security and Executive Chairman and Co-founder, The Chertoff Group;
  • John C. Inglis, Venture Partner, Paladin Capital Group, former Deputy Director, NSA and visiting professor in cyber security at the Center for Cyber Security Studies, US Naval Academy;
  • Malcolm Harkins, Chief Security and Trust Officer, Cylance, Inc.;
  • Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA Director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense Information Network(DoDIN);
  • Dmitri Alperovitch, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, CrowdStrike

The conference has also attracted cyber leaders from the Department of Homeland Security, T. Rowe Price, CyberPatriot, Risk Cooperative, SANS Institute, Forcepoint, US Army Research Laboratory, Sonatype, and KEYW Corporation.

“In today’s constantly evolving threat environment, cybersecurity continues to be one of the most critical issues facing governments, enterprises and individuals alike,” said Chertoff. “It is imperative that states and industry work in partnership to help create more resilient critical infrastructure and communities, reducing potential exposure and mitigating potential consequences. Maryland continues to demonstrate leadership in fostering innovative partnerships that can lead to new technologies, an educated workforce, and more cyber security professionals.”

CyberMaryland 2016 is comprised of the CyberMaryland Summit and Industry Showcase, the Cyber Job Fair, the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame awards banquet and the CyberTini Networking event. The conference and industry showcase will be held from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., October 20 – 21 at the Hilton Baltimore. The Cyber Job Fair will be held from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on October 20 at the same location. The National Cyber Security Hall of Fame awards banquet will be held October 20 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the Hilton Baltimore. The CyberTini Networking event will take place on Wednesday, October 19 from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Columbus Center (Pier Five) in downtown Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For more information on all CyberMaryland Summit events visit,

The CyberMaryland 2016 includes seven forums designed for government contractors, business service providers, technology companies, entrepreneurs, policy makers and government agency officials. The forums include: Cyber Risk, Education, Workforce, Innovation, Threat Intelligence, Insider Threats, and Government Cyber Opportunities. Respected industry thought leaders will present workshops and panels on various topics. Scheduled sessions include: Top Cyber Concerns in the C-Suite, Restoring Data Integrity After a Destructive Malware or Ransomware Attack, and the Israel Innovation Exploration Roundtable. Additionally, for the second year, CyberMaryland will host the Cyber Defense Toolbox, a session designed to showcase technologies no cyber team should be without. This year’s panelists include technologists from OptioLabs, Inc. (Baltimore, MD), SparkCognition, Inc. (Austin, TX), Flashpoint (New York, NY), Portnox (US & Israel) and root9B (Colorado Springs, CO).

For information on becoming a CyberMaryland 2016 sponsor or exhibitor, contact Gabe Wollner at 240-841-2211 or CyberMaryland 2016 sponsors include Cisco Systems, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Deep Run Security, National Cryptologic Museum Foundation, Federal Business Council, Inc., University of Maryland University College, LifeJourney, Northrop Grumman, Convergence Technology Consulting and the Maryland Department of Commerce. Follow conference updates, including announced speakers and exhibitors, on Twitter @CyberMaryland and Facebook at


About The Cyber Maryland Summit

Launched in 2011, The CyberMaryland Summit is driven by a public-private partnership guided by a volunteer Industry Advisory Board consisting of business leaders, top educators, and public sector representatives. Timely and informative, the event provides an annual forum to unite private sector businesses, federal, state and local government, academia and the developing workforce.  The conference is supported and funded by over 100 private companies, educational institutions and government organizations. Now in its 6th year, the Conference will continue to address the security challenges facing our nation’s digital infrastructure, reinforce Maryland’s position as the epicenter of cybersecurity, and help fulfill Maryland’s responsibility to support America’s cybersecurity mission. The Federal Business Council, Inc. (FBC has produced The CyberMaryland Summit from its inception, providing capital, personnel and expertise to launch and grow the program. More than 2,500 people participated in 2015.  For more information, call (240) 841-2201 or email Follow us on Twitter @CyberMaryland or LIKE us on Facebook at


About The National Cyber Security Hall of Fame

The National Cyber Security Hall of Fame is an organization that was created, and is being supported, by companies and organizations committed to recognizing the individuals who played a key role in the creation of the Cyber Security Industry. With a mission to respect the past and protect the future, the event highlights the major milestones in the industry’s 40-year history. The black-tie event is a celebration of cyber innovation attended by 300+ cyber leaders from across the country. Tickets are $250. To learn more visit,

 For more information, contact Michelle Jackson at 678-548-2461 or 240-841-2245.


13-Year-Old Pittsburgh Youth Entrepreneur Uses All-Natural Ingredients to Create Lip Balm


A’Niyah Dixon, 13, from Manchester Academic Charter School in Pittsburgh, PA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. With her business, Winter’s Heart, A’Niyah hopes to put an end to chapped lips once and for all.

Tell us a little about your business.

Winter’s Heart is a bubble gum lip balm that A’Niyah plans on marketing to both females and males. Unlike other lip balms on the market, A’Niyah crafts her products with safe ingredients including food dye, petroleum jelly, bees wax and bubble gum. To appeal to everyone, the lip balms are clear and sold in different colors; therefore, males can purchase a product traditionally sold to women.

What inspired the creation of Winter’s Heart?

After trying a number of different brands, A’Niyah became frustrated that no lip balm on the market was able to cure her dry, chapped lips. When she began to research the industry, she was shocked to see the ingredients in some of the big name products on the market, so she decided to create a safe lip balm that would protect and heal damaged lips.

What challenges will Winter’s Heart face?

The cosmetic market is incredibly competitive and dominated by big name brands that hold a large market share. A’Niyah will have to invest a significant amount of capital into marketing to expand outside of her community. Because she hopes to market to both females and males, A’Niyah will face a challenge presenting lip balm in a way that is appealing to both genders. She may have to consider expanding her product line to include other scents besides bubble gum to attract a larger customer base.

How will Winter’s Heart impact the world?

A’Niyah hopes to solve a problem that many people face on a daily basis: dry, chapped lips. She also hopes to serve as an inspiration to her community and prove that kids, even at the young age of 13, are able to get out there and make a difference in the world with hard work and dedication.

What are the next steps for Winter’s Heart?

A’Niyah hopes to secure funding to expand her business in the near future. She plans on using the funds to pay for advertising and also to expand her existing product line. She hopes to also have business cards created so she can pass them out in her community and spread the word about Winter’s Heart.

To stay abreast of Winter Heart’s progress in the i.Invest competition, visit and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email

Good luck, A’Niyah!

13-Year-Old Pittsburgh Youth Entrepreneur Hopes to Beautify Your Garden, One Pot at a Time


Andre Rhone, 13, from West Mifflin Middle School in West Mifflin, PA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. Andre has always thought of himself as a creative person, and with his new business, Andre’s Plants, he finally gets to put these skills to good use.

Tell us a little about your business.

Andre created a decorative pot business so people in his community can display their potted plants or flowers in a beautiful setting. He uses items from around the house, such as ribbon and candy, to create unique, eye-catching designs that are so appealing, you just might not pay attention to the blooming flowers in the pot! After selling these decorative pots at community events, Andre realized that the demand for his product was high, and hopes to grow Andre’s Plants in the future.

What inspired the creation of Andre’s Plants?

After seeing so many plain pots in his home and around his community, Andre became frustrated. He looked at these pots as a canvas to design beautiful things with unique objects. Andre decided that he would be the one to use his creativity to transform the potting industry, one plant at a time! With his mom’s financial support, he began to purchase pots and decorate them with household items and candy pieces, and Andre’s Plants was born.

What challenges will Andre’s Plants face?

Each design that Andre creates is unique, which places a lot of pressure on him to come up with different ideas for items to use and how to place them. Because potted plants are a somewhat seasonal item, Andre’s pots may see fluctuations in sales, especially during the fall and winter months.

How will Andre’s Plants impact the world?

Andre’s mission is simple: to make the world a more beautiful place! Flowers and plants are designed to spruce up gardens and homes, but with decorative pots, they’ll be even more beautiful.

What are the next steps for Andre’s Plants?

Andre is currently not seeking investors for his business; however, he does hope to expand his business’s presence in the local community and on a larger scale. Eventually, Andre would like to open an Etsy store to sell his pots to customers around the world. Selling on Etsy would allow him to maintain low operating costs while reaching a huge audience.

To stay abreast of Andre’s Plants’ progress in the i.Invest competition, visit and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email

Good luck, Andre!


17-Year-Old Greenwich, Connecticut Youth Entrepreneur Redefines the Airsoft Experience


Marc Baghadjian, 17, from Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. Marc took his passion for the airsoft experience and turned it into a viable business, RapidFire.

Tell us a little about your business.

Traditional airsoft guns have a capacity of around 30 bullets, which can be shot out in approximately 15 seconds. Every time the user has to reload the magazine, he or she will waste about 30 seconds manually churning the equipment to properly load in the ammo. With RapidFire, this manual churning process is automated, and the capacity increases to around 400 bullets, making the airsoft experience completely hands-free for users.

What inspired the creation of RapidFire?

Being a huge fan of airsoft, Marc became frustrated with the time that it took to load bullets into the weapon. He began to realize that every reload was costing him between 20-30 seconds, only to run out of bullets within a minute or so because of the limited capacity of the magazine. He decided to design a magazine that not only would hold up to 400 bullets, but also reload on its own, allowing customers to focus on the game and not on their ammo.

What challenges will RapidFire face?

RapidFire would like to get into licensing deals with larger companies. To do so, they will need to convince seasoned brands why RapidFire is more beneficial than the existing product. This is a niche market; therefore, RapidFire will have to become a market leader in order to grow into a strong business.

How will RapidFire impact the world?

RapidFire will revolutionize the growing airsoft industry and make it easier for people to handle the equipment. Because RapidFire will load on its own, users will not need to focus on learning how to stop and reload when out of ammo.

What are the next steps for RapidFire?

RapidFire’s first goal is to complete the production of a marketable product at the Thayer School of Engineering. Marc expects this to take around 3-6 weeks to complete. Once this phase is done, Marc will move on to contacting large airsoft manufacturers to discuss potential licensing deals. Down the road, Marc hopes that one day this technology will be universally used for every airsoft magazine.

To stay abreast of RapidFire’s progress in the i.Invest competition, visit and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email

Good luck, Marc!


Johns Hopkins Engineering Students Develop Virtual Hand, Wrist Physical Therapy Software


Group photo (from left to right): Adam Polevoy, Parth Singh, Rahul Yerrabelli, Himanshu Dashora. Single photo: Benjamin Pikus

Rahul Yerrabelli, 18, Benjamin Pikus, 18, Himanshu Dashora, 18, Parth Singh, 19, and Adam Polevoy,19, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, are one of the teams participating in this year’s i.Invest Competition. Each of these young men are studying Biomedical Engineering, and were eager to solve one of the many issues facing the medical community with their company, MoTrack Therapy.

Tell us a little about your business.

MoTrack is a virtual reality software that has completely revolutionized the way that patients can receive physical therapy for hand and wrist injuries. Using the Leap Motion hardware and a webcam, MoTrack can track and interpret movements made by the patient’s hand and wrist. The patient can therefore complete physical therapy exercises at home and receive feedback on ways to improve in real-time. Because the exercises are designed to be more interactive and entertaining than traditional physical therapy, it is expected that MoTrack will have a higher rate of patient compliance to the regimen.

What inspired the creation of MoTrack?

After a friend suffered a serious wrist injury from playing cricket, these young men were surprised to see the intensive, time-consuming therapy that was needed to treat his injury. Years later, they participated in a weekend-long hackathon, MedHacks, where they were asked to use various gadgets to create a new medical invention. One of these gadgets happened to be a hand-tracking sensor used to track movements in virtual reality gaming. After putting their heads together and brainstorming, MoTrack was born.

What challenges will MoTrack face?

There are a few competitors in the same industry. However, MoTrack has the competitive edge when it comes to size and portability of the device. Furthermore, the current competitors are either focused in the European market or focused in general body therapy as opposed to hand therapy. In order to be successful, MoTrack will need to focus on educating consumers about the benefits of choosing MoTrack over other forms of therapy.

How will MoTrack impact the world?

Hand and wrist therapy is not only time-consuming, but costly and inconvenient as well. With MoTrack, patients will no longer have to schedule multiple appointments and travel to medical professionals’ offices to receive treatment. Instead, they will be able to do recommended exercises in the comfort of their own home while still receiving feedback about their progress and how they can improve. The cost of MoTrack therapy is far less than the cost of an in-office physical therapy appointment, so this software allows people of all income levels to receive the care that they need.

What are the next steps for MoTrack?

MoTrack has received $10,000 in non-dilutive funding from the Johns Hopkins University Ralph O’Connor Fund as well as an additional $300 from a Johns Hopkins University DMC grant. MoTrack hopes to secure another $50,000 from investors to cover the costs of patenting, running clinical trials and launching a large-scale marketing campaign.

To stay abreast of MoTrack’s progress in the i.Invest competition, visit and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email

Good luck, Rahul, Benjamin, Himanshu, Parth and Adam!



19-Year-Old Penn State Student Uses 3D Printing to Keep Headphone Cords Tangle-Free


Shemar Coombs, 19, from Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia, PA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. After dealing with tangled or lost headphones for far too long, Shemar came up with a solution to this problem with his company, Rap It Up.

Tell us a little about your business.

Rap It Up is an iPhone case that allows customers to store their headphones safely without having to worry about them getting tangled or damaged. This case features a U-shaped channel on the side to easily and neatly store headphones. Designed with 3D printing, Rap It Up is sleek and sophisticated, so customers won’t have to worry about toting around a bulky phone case.

What inspired the creation of Rap It Up?

While Shemar was in a Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship class, he was given the task of coming up with a business idea that would make an impact in the world. It just so happens that in the same week he was given the assignment, he learned about 3D printing and its capabilities. With this knowledge in mind, he set out to put an end to the annoyance of tangled and damaged headphones once and for all.

What challenges will Rap It Up face?

The smartphone accessory market is very competitive and crowded, so Rap It Up may have to spend a substantial amount of capital on marketing to secure distribution. Although there are a few competitors in the market who have similar products, each of them has disadvantages. One of the competitors has a much bulkier design that makes it inconvenient to carry, while the other does not allow customers to use their own headphones. Once 3D printing becomes more mainstream, Rap It Up may face other competitors who also want to take advantage of this new technology.

How will Rap It Up impact the world?

Not only does Rap It Up solve a common problem that customers face on a daily basis, Shemar will also use his platform to better the world around him. Shemar is passionate about recycling, so when his business is up and running, he plans on encouraging customers to recycle old, unused phones. Customers who follow Shemar’s lead by recycling will be rewarded with a slight percentage off of the purchase price of a Rap It Up case.

What are the next steps for Rap It Up?

Shemar hopes to secure funding after this competition to help Rap It Up cover patenting and marketing costs. Because of the competitive landscape of the phone accessory market, Shemar plans on dedicating the majority of any funds to building a strong brand presence.

To stay abreast of Rap It Up’s progress in the i.Invest competition, visit and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email

Good luck, Shemar!