Two weeks ago, Zack Kline quit his full-time job at a Rockville payroll company to take the plunge into business for himself, an eco-friendly landscaping company he hopes to one day grow into a national franchising model.
For now, Kline, 24, rides from house to house, taking soil samples of prospective clients, answering emails and trying to put his A.I.R. Lawn Care company on the map. It’s an ambitious if risky idea, inspired by hot, humid summers toting around gas-powered lawn equipment and $5,000 in start-up money from a college business competition.
“There’s a lot of excitement for it and yeah, it’s a little nerve-wracking because you don’t have that consistent cash flow,” Kline said. “You have to figure out how you can be as resourceful as possible.”
Kline is one of many young Bethesda entrepreneurs trying to make it on their own in a time when the unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year olds is nearly double the national average, more and more young adults age 20-34 are living in their parents’ homes and some college graduates can’t find jobs.
A pair of Walt Whitman High School grads recently started a website that refers drivers to car repair shops. Two North Bethesda residents started a late night shuttle service between bars in Bethesda and D.C. last year and recently expanded it to Washington Nationals games for summer weekends.
“Unfortunately, a majority of people in our generation get labeled as lazy, not really driven and a lot of other negative connotations,” Kline said. “It gets older people, I think, kind of excited to see someone that maybe reminds them of themselves when they were younger, but also just to see that there is potential and hope for the up-and-coming generation.”
The “What Investors Are Looking For and How To Pitch,” workshop will include advice on the key things investors hope to see in startup companies hoping for funding.
The event is the second of six workshops and forums over the next half-year that Bethesda Green hopes can help some local green businesses succeed. The green nonprofit has a business incubator program and last fall hosted pitches at the Startup Maryland tour.
The fee is $15 per workshop and calls networking and light refreshments at 8 a.m. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Bethesda Green is located above the Capital One Bank at 4825 Cordell Ave. in Suite 200.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event website.
Bethesda Green will host a discussion on emergency preparedness with some of Montgomery County’s main people in charge of the local response to events such as the derecho last summer or Superstorm Sandy last month.
The panel discussion, set for Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will address four questions on how the county deals with the type of severe weather that can lead to power outages and other disturbances:
- What plans does Montgomery County have in place in preparation for a hurricane Sandy or derecho type of event?
- What resources are currently available to community residents to best prepare themselves and their loved ones?
- What items should I have stocked in my home to prepare for a weather-related or human-caused disaster?
- What role does the county, state and/or federal government play in preparation and response to natural and man-made disasters?
Councilman Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg) is confirmed for the event, as is Jason Holstine, owner of the Amicus Green Building Center in Kensington. Other invited guests include Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Battalion Chief Jim Resnick, FEMA official Steward Beckham and Chris Voss, from the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security.
The event is free and will take place at Bethesda Green, on the second floor of the Capital One Bank building at 4825 Cordell Avenue. Bethesda Green is a nonprofit with a green business incubator that also takes on educational projects about sustainability in Bethesda.
For more information and to RSVP, visit the event website.
Walter Reed Hit-And-Run Driver Competent to Stand Trial — Angela Cobbold is a “completely rational, reasonable person,” when taking her medication, her brother-in-law told a judge yesterday. Cobbold, who led police on a cross-Potomac River chase before drawing gunfire from a Navy Military Medical security officer last week, may seek a “not criminally responsible” distinction. [Bethesda Patch]
MCPS Superintendent Coming to Strathmore — Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Josh Starr will deliver his first State of the Schools address at The Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane) on Monday, Nov. 12. [MCPS]
E-cycle Event Sunday at Whitman High School — Bring your old computers, electronics, floppy disks, CD players, printers or a host of other products to Walt Whitman High School (7100 Whittier Blvd.) from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday for recycling collection from the Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services. [Bethesda Green]
Flickr photo by spiggycat
Bethesda Green named the 2012 Bethesda Magazine Green Award winners on Thursday night at its 3rd Annual Gala, a group that included tech companies, educational initiatives, a local municipality and a local private school.
Solar energy software company Geostellar, the Audobon Naturalist Society’s GreenKids program, the JBS International IT firm, the Calleva outdoor adventure camp, the City of Rockville, the Landon School and building designer John Spears of the Sustainable Design Group all won awards and will be featured as Green Champions in Bethesda Magazine.
Bethesda Green is an environmental nonprofit that promotes sustainability projects and education in Bethesda and includes a green business incubator.
Details on the winners, from the press release, are after the jump:
A Bethesda-based landscaping company focused on eco-friendly lawn care hopes that a pitch at last week’s Startup Maryland bus tour will lead to more investment.
Zack Kline, the Rockville native who started A.I.R. Lawn Care in the Bethesda Green business incubator, presented his strategy for providing “green” services in an industry known for anything but environmentally sound practices.
The idea for the company, which uses electric blowers, mowers and trimmers, came to Kline as he worked a large lot for a landscaping company while in school. Kline’s task was to use a gas-powered trimmer to edge the property.
“I just became annoyed and irritated at all the air and noise pollution this thing was putting off,” Kline said.
He won a startup competition at his school then started A.I.R. last summer with eight clients, all neighbors and friends whose lawns he had cut for some extra money while growing up.
This summer his client base grew to 20, including lawns in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, North Potomac and Rockville.
He said he had to turn down potential clients, which told him it was time to grow the one-man business into something bigger.
The video pitch on the bus at last week’s Startup Maryland event at Bethesda Green could be a start.
The videos of Kline and others pitching their businesses will go on Youtube this month. A jury will trim down the more than 100 entries to eight who will receive extra pitch training and a chance to attend a November entrepreneur expo.
The winner and runner-up will get spots to pitch their startups at major investor events in 2013.
“I started mowing laws just because I enjoyed it,” Kline said. “Then I saw how it was done and I thought there’s got to be a better way.”
Ron Griffith’s barbecue sauce and bloody mary mixes were the stuff of legend for friends who would vacation with Ron and his wife Connie near Annapolis.
But before the Bethesda man could chase his dream of making the recipes into a viable business, he grew sick with ALS, the degenerative neurological disease that led to his death in November 2011.
Now, with the help of her friend Debbie Kaufmann and the Bethesda Green business incubator, Connie is continuing Ron’s pursuit with a renewed focus. A percentage of all profits from her Gater Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes will be donated to the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins. The two have started a website where people affected by ALS can find resources.
On Monday, Kaufmann, the Bethesda resident who quit her job to help grow the business, made a pitch at Startup Maryland’s bus tour stop on Cordell Avenue.
The winner and runner-up in that small business contest will get access to a number of prominent investors and potential funding sources. Kaufmann said trimming the presentation from 12 minutes to five minutes was hard enough. After her mock-pitch in front of a panel of judges that included Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman, she was told she might need to cut it down even more.
As Kaufmann and Griffith explained the origin of the business on Thursday, they said there’s a whole lot more to tell.
A group of local entrepreneurs got a crash course in how to pitch their businesses at Startup Maryland’s stop in Bethesda on Monday afternoon.
A select few then got to board the bus, stopped at the corner of Cordell and Woodmont Avenues near Bethesda Green, and film a three to five minute pitch to be judged by a panel of experts.
The top eight businesses statewide will move on to a November entrepreneur expo. The winner and runner-up will get spots in major 2013 pitch events, where Startup Maryland hopes they can find angel investors and other connections to help their businesses prosper.
“We’ve been flabbergasted by the number of people, the diversity of the businesses,” said Julie Lenzer Kirk, executive director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and an organizer of the project. “There are some real gems here that we just don’t hear about. So that’s what we want to do, we want to bring these incredible companies into the light.”
The Bethesda Green stop was one of three planned for Montgomery County, and according to organizers, a natural place to find start-up businesses looking for money and exposure.
“We know it’s here. This was one of the more comprehensive stops,” said Michael Binko, another organizer of the tour whose Kloudtrack financial services firm began in Bethesda in the offices of an angel investor.
A panel including Honest Tea founder and CEO Seth Goldman gave critiques of proposals during an afternoon workshop that included pitches from Bethesda-based Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces, A.I.R. Lawn Care and Joyful Bath Co.
Binko and Kirk are encouraging people to vote on the video pitches when they go online in October. For more information on Startup Maryland, visit its Facebook page.
On Sept. 24, the “Pitch Across Maryland” bus tour will stop at environmental nonprofit Bethesda Green (4825 Cordell Ave.) as part of its three-week trek to find up-and-coming small businesses.
Bethesda Green hopes to feature its stable of businesses in its green business incubator during the event, one of three scheduled for Montgomery County.
Participants will get four minutes to make a video pitch (in a predetermined format) on the bus to a video crew, investors and Startup Maryland representatives.
The pitches will then be put online and narrowed down to eight finalists, who will go on to present at a November entrepreneur expo. The winner and runner-up will get automatic bids to 2013 venture competitions, where the nonprofit Startup Maryland group hopes they can find the money and connections to grow.
Seth Goldman, founder and CEO of Bethesda-based organic tea company Honest Tea, will be in attendance.
Goldman, a major supporter of Bethesda Green, started selling teas at Fresh Fields (now Whole Foods supermarket) in 1998. Ten years later the Coca-Cola Company bought 40 percent of the company. Last year, Coca Cola bought the entire company.
Organizers are hoping the bus event can help an undiscovered local company find similar success.
Registration information can be found at Startup Maryland’s website.
Bethesda Green, the environmental nonprofit that works on sustainability projects in downtown Bethesda, is hosting a networking happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Ri Ra Irish Pub (4931 Elm St.).
Bethesda Green will also introduce guests to upcoming events and sustainability programs.
The Happy Hour includes discount drink prices and free appetizers.