headshots of five finalists on purple background for Crab Tank 2023
Five finalists for Crab Tank 2023 pitch competition

Five local businesses and entrepreneurs have been chosen to compete in the third annual Crab Tank pitch competition to win a grand prize of $25,000.

Baltimore Homecoming, an organization of accomplished Baltimoreans around the world whose goal is to spark new collaboration and drive new investments in Baltimore’s future, announced the five finalist this week. They’ll make their pitches on behalf of their companies during the Crab Tank competition at Activate 2023, Baltimore Homecoming’s signature event taking place October 19-20, 2023.

The first Crab Tank competition was held in 2019 to benefit Baltimore’s small- to medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. This year is the first time Baltimore Homecoming has opened nominations to the public, which they hope will encourage companies to apply in the future. (Public voting closed on July 5th.) This year, Baltimore Homecoming received more than three times the number of applications as they did in 2019.

The competition, sponsored by M&T Bank, provides local business owners an opportunity to compete for the $25,000 grand prize and $2,500 people’s choice award. Past winners, Arion Long, founder and chief executive officer of Femly, and Susan Clayton, inventor and owner of WhitePaws RunMitts, both credit Baltimore Homecoming and the competition with providing necessary financial and intangible resources to help to scale their companies.

“The five finalists selected to participate in the Crab Tank pitch competition embody the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that Baltimore Homecoming seeks to amplify and support daily,” said Matthew Reeds, Baltimore Homecoming’s deputy director. “With M&T Bank’s support, we’re able to double down on our mission and help these businesses find success, thus mobilizing investment in our city.”

These businesses and entrepreneurs will pitch to a panel of high-profile judges with backgrounds in business and technology, and over 100 prominent Baltimore alumni at Activate 2023:

  • Hiatus Cheesecake, a wholesale cheesecake manufacturing company that works with the most premium and highest quality organic ingredients, has a nationwide deal with Kroger supermarkets and is based out of the B-More Kitchen, a co-working kitchen space in Baltimore City.  
  • Keppel and Kismet, based out of Open Works, seeks to be the premier manufacturing partner to creative entrepreneurs with small/micro product-based businesses, helping them gain greater access to the marketplace while creating jobs and inspiring new entrepreneurs in and around Baltimore. 
  • NextStep Robotics is revolutionizing stroke recovery by empowering survivors, therapists, and clinics with innovative, cost-effective robotic training solutions. Based out of the UM BioPark, the company has been working for over a decade to harness the power of neuroplasticity to drive lasting functional recovery, addressing foot drop and upper extremity impairments through its two products. 
  • ReBokeh, founded by a woman who was diagnosed with Oculocutaneous albinism at a young age, is developing technology for the underserved of the underserved, people with moderate, uncorrectable vision impairments and creating a world where everyone can Simply See.   
  • Treehouse Juicery exists to provide a sustainable and accessible path to wellness for the entire family by creating healthy and delicious juice beverages that help to revitalize and renew, one bottle at a time. With a storefront on the way, the company sells its juices through subscriptions and packages.  

“We recognize the value of investing in the growth and innovation of Baltimore’s entrepreneurs,” said Augie Chiasera, M&T’s president for Greater Baltimore. “Small businesses are essential to the foundation of our city’s economy, and as a community-focused bank, it’s an important part of our work to provide support and access to resources these entrepreneurs need to meet their financial and business goals.”