September 3, 2015

Jacqueline Lara, MWBC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         

StartRight! 2015 Business Plan Competition Winners Announced

Four Corners Counseling, LLC Named Grand Prize Winner

Rockville, MD, September, 3, 2015 – Today, the Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) and Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) announced the winners of the 12th annual StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition at the Power Conference at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.

The annual competition is supported with $13,000 in cash prizes provided by sponsors. Shulman Rogers and Walmart were this year’s Gold Level Sponsors joined by Morgan Stanley at the Silver Level. Bronze Level sponsors include BioMaryland, TriBridge Partners, LLC, Revere Bank, EagleBank, Allegra, Snyder Cohn, SameGrain, The Daily Record, Bethesda Magazine, Intelligent Office, and Clark Concepts.

This year’s $5,000 Grand Prize was awarded to Four Corners Counseling, LLC owner Hetty Irmer. Four Corners Counseling provides holistic psychotherapy services for thinking women based on mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Four Corners Counseling was selected from 41 completed business plans reviewed by a panel of 29 volunteer judges. “When I attended the Power Conference luncheon last year, and watched the StartRight! winners being announced, I thought to myself, ‘Hey, they are not much different than me—maybe I could enter the competition next year!’” said Irmer. Reflecting on her decision, Irmer added, “This process has provided a structured opportunity to learn new skills in a supportive environment, and has made me think about business in a new way.”

“When we help women entrepreneurs develop a business plan that will result in their long-term growth, stability, and financial independence, we all win,” noted Kiesha Haughton Smoots, Managing Director of the Maryland Women’s Business Center. She added, “We are so grateful for the support of our sponsors who make the StartRight! Business Plan Competition possible by donating their time and resources.”

This year’s winner of the “Pick The Pitch” category was JR Biotek, LLC, owned by Carol Ibe. With support from our sponsors, elevator pitches from 10 semi-finalists were filmed and posted on MWBC’s website, and the public was invited to vote for their favorite. The Pitch Prize is one year of complimentary office space from Intelligent Office. Grand prize winner, Four Corners Counseling, LLC, will also receive this complimentary service from Intelligent Office.

There were two second place prizes awarded. Cash prizes were awarded to Kandi Morris of St8YourCase, LLC and Madhvi Upender of Awarables. St8YourCase provides online matchmaking service for clients who need legal services and attorneys who provide them. Awarables produces wearable, wireless sensors with data-gathering software to study a patient’s sleep behavior at home over multiple nights. Said owner Kandi Morris of St8YourCase, “This was my third time entering the StartRight! Business Plan Competition, and if it wasn’t for MWBC Business Counselor Angie Duncanson’s continued encouragement and support, I wouldn’t have persisted.”

Three third place prizes were awarded to Cassandra Smith of Engineering Mindz, Bonnie Moore of Golden Girls Network, and Carol Ibe of JR Biotek, LLC.

“We congratulate the StartRight! Business Plan Competition winners, and will continue offering a variety of business support tools to help women entrepreneurs achieve their goals,” said Laurie Boyer, Executive Director of REDI.


About The Maryland Women’s Business Center

MWBC was established in 2010 as a program of the non-profit Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) to help people throughout the region start and build successful women-owned enterprises that are positioned for long-term growth. MWBC conducts specialized training, offers individual business counseling, and provides unique resources.  Our special initiatives include a Childcare Business Development Program and StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition.

About Rockville Economic Development, Inc.

Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) is a public-private partnership formed in 1997 by the City of Rockville, Maryland to strengthen and broaden the city’s economic base through business entrepreneurship, expansion, retention, and recruitment programs. REDI offers guidance and support to help businesses at all stages of growth launch, locate and expand in Rockville. For more information, contact 301-315-8096 or visit