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9-21-16 BALTIMORE, MD- Mike Binko standing next to the Startup Maryland Bus during its tour stop at Universty of Baltimore. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Startup Maryland

Startup Maryland CEO Michael Binko said the nonprofit he and Julie Lenzer launched in 2012 to support emerging companies continues to encourage growth of the state’s entrepreneurship ecosystem through its annual statewide bus tours and other programs.

The peer-driven program focuses on high-growth ventures, and welcomes entrepreneurs to visit the Startup Maryland bus as it stops during its annual STRT1UP Road Show tour.

Entrepreneurs are invited to visit the bus and record short video pitches for their business ideas. The videos are posted on YouTube for viewing and voting as part of a contest called Pitch Across Maryland.

A documentary about the bus tour, “STRT1UP,” explores how innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems are developed, Binko said. “It’s raw and it’s real. It’s about the real people who are doing it. They’re not all going to succeed.”

The documentary premiered in 2016 at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in California, celebrating entrepreneurship and highlighting the struggles entrepreneurs face when trying to prove a venture’s worth, he said.

Binko said his organization has stayed true to its original mission. “We remain fiercely independent of politics and outside influence, and serve as the ‘easy button’ for first-time entrepreneurs who often need grizzled veterans to give them some perspective and mentorship.”

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