First Two Mentor Companies Announced

The Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) announced two of the Mentor companies that will be providing services to the constituents of ESEC’s new Chesapeake Agricultural Innovation Center

“We are pleased to welcome Grow and Fortify and Cureate as the first Mentors who will be resources for CAIC,” said Mike Thielke, ESEC Executive Director. “We will be adding more Mentors as we identify more specific needs that CAIC must address.”

Annapolis-based Grow and Fortify focuses on value-added agriculture startups that require mentorship in the areas of government regulation, licensing, packaging, labeling, zoning, and permitting procedures.

Cureate, based in Washington, DC, offers strategic advice on the topics of successful go-to-market strategies, market analysis, sales channels, distribution, and marketing.

CAIC’s mentorship activities were part of the proposal ESEC submitted to the USDA to compete for the grant that established CAIC. Beginning in Fall 2021, Mentors will develop and present Virtual Presentations and mentoring sessions that will be part of CAIC’s “Business Solutions for Value-Added Producers” experience that is open to value-added producers who register with CAIC.


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Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.

Date and Time of Session: Wednesday, October 20th; 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Course Description: This presentation discusses strategies for B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) growth via marketing and sales. The presentation focuses on each company’s plans to diversify its revenue streams by using e-commerce, exporting, and overall customer acquisition tactics to support and enhance brand awareness.
Desired Prerequisite Knowledge and Experience of Attendees: There are no prerequisites for this Virtual Presentation.
Criteria for Acceptance into the Virtual Presentation: Attendees need to have a product-based business; this is not suited for technology and/or app companies.