COLLEGE PARK – At first, Jason Hardebeck of the Baltimore Angels private investment group didn’t “get” Pinterest.
“I’ve since done a 180,” Hardebeck said, because he realized the social network provides a way for entrepreneurs to tell their story creatively.
Last week, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the Maryland Pinterest Business Pitch Contest as a way to promote small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures throughout the state, O’Malley’s spokesperson Takirra Winfield said.
The governor’s office has partnered with the University of Maryland College Park, the Future of Information Alliance, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the Baltimore Angels for the contest.
The business pitch contest — the first of its kind to happen on Pinterest — asks entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Maryland to pitch their business or idea on Pinterest using 10 images.
“Pinterest allows some text. We don’t expect it to be 100 percent pictures,” Hardebeck said.
Although he expects the contest to be more fun than a regular business pitch — Hardebeck said the same rules apply. Regardless of format, judges will be looking for financial need, clear goals and an understanding of the market.
All submissions will be featured on O’Malley’s Pinterest page. First place winners will receive a MacBook Air and the runner-up will get an iPad.
Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in the United States according to a new study by Experian Hitwise.
“By using new platforms, we’ll be able to continue this ongoing conversation with Marylanders, better connect with the next generation of entrepreneurs, and showcase our businesses in a new and innovative way,” Winfield said.
Using Pinterest for a business pitch contest is a novel idea, Hardebeck said. He also believes it will encourage young entrepreneurs to participate.
“The format of Pinterest is probably a lot less challenging or scary than a 30-page business plan,” said Hardebeck, who is also the Executive Director of the Greater Baltimore Tech Council.
Hardebeck said he will be looking for a compelling business idea and people who understand the needs of the market. But the judging doesn’t rest solely on the panel of sponsors.
“Pinterest is an incredibly fast and quickly growing social network. We saw an opportunity to crowd source some of the voting, rather than leaving it to a handful of judges to determine which is the best plan,” Hardebeck said.