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University of Maryland alums win business award

A group of graduates from the University of Maryland are searching for a production facility in Baltimore just one year after founding a company, which has since won acclaim and financial support from investors and consumers alike.

Earth Starter, a business created to ease urban gardening with simple mats that allow users to easily plant and irrigate seeds, raised over $100,000 on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, won a $52,500 prize at a national business competition at the University of Maryland and began selling their product online in a matter of months. The company also recently entered into a three-month business accelerator program in California.

Earth Starter has had what many would consider an ideal start for a fledgling business, but the details of Business formation can bog down and complicate otherwise brilliant entrepreneurs. It is always beneficial for such individuals and groups to consult with legal and business experts for organizational and strategic advice. This gives them a much greater chance of finding the same level of early success as Earth Starter.

The extra income from Kickstarter and other sources has given the Earth Starter team a rare chance to experiment with marketing and expansion early into the business's life. In fact, the firm's cofounders plan on changing the company's name to UrbnEarth and rebrand their product, currently known as Nourishmat, to Urbmat.

Earth Starter's founders say they came up with the idea for the business in an sustainable farm management class at the University of Maryland. Their professor in that class has become a fervent supporter of the firm, praising it for its simplicity and effectiveness, noting that even experienced gardeners have found it useful. Earth Starter currently sells several models of polypropylene mats, with prices ranging from around $65 to $80. However, the firm is slated to unveil new variations of the mat that take up significantly less space, all of which well sell for less than $60.

Baltimore Sun, "Firm's gardening kits win contest, funding and sales" Jamie Smith Hopkins, Sep. 03, 2013

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