The Smart Business Dealmakers Dealmaker of the Year Awards recognize exceptional individuals who are shaping the landscape of business and innovation in Baltimore.

In addition, The Baltimore Hall of Fame is recognizing a class of dealmakers that has made an often-groundbreaking impact on their organizations, industries and the region over the course of decades in business.

We celebrated the accomplishments of the 2024 class of winners on April 25 at the Baltimore Smart Business Dealmakers Conference. Together, they provide a strong picture of the Baltimore business community.


Dealmaker Of The Year Honorees


Mustafa Al-Adhami is the CEO of Astek Diagnostics, which develops a precision diagnostic technology designed to determine the existence of bacteria in urine. He and his team recently raised a multi-million-dollar capital round from Ayana Capital, with participation from Wexford SciTech Venture Fund, Key Technologies, She’s Independent, Goldin Ventures, and the Abell Foundation. The funds will be used to continue research and commercializing technology.


Graham Boyce is the president of Jobe and Company, a representative and distributor of engineered plumbing and industrial solutions for the HVAC and industrial markets across the mid-Atlantic region. Last year, Boyce sold the company to Hobbs & Associates, a portfolio company of Madison Dearborn Partners. He was instrumental in building out the company that he had previously acquired 18 months earlier.


Dan Edelstein is the CEO of Haystack Oncology, a developer of a liquid biopsy diagnostic technology designed to optimize treatment strategies and dramatically improve outcomes for patients with cancer. The company was acquired by Quest Diagnostics for an estimated $392 million last June. Part of the deal included a contingent payment based on hitting milestones between 2023 and 2028.


Douglas Falk is a venture partner, Mike Leffer is the managing partner, and David Narrow is a venture partner at Riptide Ventures. Riptide is an angel network that seeks to invest in consumer, software, and health care companies. Over the past 18 months, Riptide Ventures has closed 22 investments — eight in Baltimore — and invested more than $15 million.


Matthew Hankey is the co-founder and CEO of New Energy Equity, a national end-to-end renewable energy project developer, financier and long-term project owner that specializes in all aspects of community solar and distributed generation and small utility scale renewable energy transactions. The company was recently acquired by ALLETE for approximately $165.5 million. The acquisition was part of ALLETE's strategy of additional investment in renewable energy and related infrastructure across North America to support their sustainability-in-action strategy while providing potential long-term earnings growth.


Deborah Hemingway is the managing partner of Ecphora Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in companies in the biomedical, medical devices, and biotech sectors. She and her team have recently deployed more than $8 million across eight companies, and as a result, Ecphora is a key player in helping Baltimore emerge as a hotbed for medtech startups and their subsequent growth.


Jay Steinmetz is the founder of Barcoding Inc., a supply chain optimization and warehouse automation solutions provider. Steinmetz and his team were acquired by Graham Partners in September, and are today focused on deploying and managing automatic identification and data capture technology with this new capital influx.


Colleen Vacelet is the president of Order Green Supply and Intreegue Landscape Architecture, which supplies doors, frames, as well as toilet and bath accessories. Vacelet acquired OGS Order Green Supply last June, which allowed her to expand operations and the scope of services.


Social Impact Award Honorees


Hailing from Durham, NC, UpSurge CEO Kory Bailey grew up loving sports and technology. A former professional athlete with over a decade of leadership in both early-stage startups and big tech, Bailey has emerged as a thought leader on equitable economic growth and the biggest advocate for the tech community in Baltimore. The father of three boys, he is a proud Baltimore city resident who enjoys hosting community gatherings, experiencing the arts, culture and history of the city, and shining a light on Baltimore’s tech leaders whenever possible.


Anton C. Bizzell, MD is the president and CEO of Bizzell US, Bizzell Global Ventures, and the Bizzell Foundation. Bizzell is a HUBZone-certified, minority-owned, consulting, strategy, investment, and technology firm that designs innovative solutions to help build healthy, secure, connected and sustainable communities in our nation and around the world. Bizzell delivers data-driven, research-informed, innovative solutions to the world’s most complex health, economic, security, and sustainability challenges. Under Anton’s leadership, Bizzell is the second-fastest growing small business in Maryland and the third-fastest growing black-owned small business in the nation.


John Sheets is the president and CEO of Pantheon Vision. Pantheon is a subsidiary of Keralink International, which is dedicated to treating, curing and preventing corneal blindness in low-and-middle-income countries. Pantheon is currently fundraising for its next round of capital, which will be used to continue expansion and development of its bioengineered corneal impacts.


Dealmakers Hall of Fame Inductees


Ken Malone is a co-founder of Early Charm Ventures, a venture studio founded in 2012 in Baltimore (Charm City) that converts science to business. Early Charm specializes in taking brilliant scientific discoveries made at universities and turning them into companies focused on growth. They don’t chase quick exits. They build companies that create sustainable value. 

Malone is a key member of the Baltimore region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. He has founded and launched many companies through his Early Charm Ventures group. Prior to forming Early Charm, Malone had careers in the heavy chemical industry working for Georgia Gulf Corporation and Atochem, and in academia working for the University of Southern Mississippi. He has a Ph.D. in polymer science and engineering and a BS in biochemistry and chemistry. Besides his work with the companies in Early Charm, he impacts the community by mentoring students at MICA and the University of Baltimore, helping them win to business plan competitions and then transition to successful businesses.


Fred Nichols is a serial entrepreneur who for more than 30 years has built, operated, grown and sold contracting firms and multiple specialty spinoffs in the private and public sector in addition to several real estate development projects and other businesses. He currently owns or controls over 40 entities, including serving as president of Nichols Contracting. Nichols’ impact on the regional community and beyond is incredible, and his commitment to helping build a solid foundation for this region is unwavering.


Bill Niland served as CEO, board member and president at Harpoon Medical, a company he co-founded in 2014 and sold in December 2017. A true entrepreneur, Harpoon Medical was Niland's fourth medical device startup over a 25-year career in the medical device industry. He founded and was the Chief Business Officer of Vapotherm, a noninvasive ventilation company that pioneered a new treatment modality now known as "high flow nasal cannula therapy." Earlier in his career, Niland also started and successfully managed two other health care companies: Mobile Metabolic Associates and National Sleep Technologies. Both companies were eventually sold to Mediq Mobile X-ray and Vital Signs. Niland was also the co-founder, CEO, board member and director at Secretome Theraputics, Inc. Niland is a board member of Coaptech, Sonavex and NeuroIntact, all local medical device companies. He holds 28 patents for medical devices. Currently, Niland is the CEO, president and board member at ReGelTec.


Bob Storey is Managing Partner of LaunchPort LLC, a for-profit venture and manufacturing center for emerging-growth medical device companies that he founded with his partners in 2018. Appointed as vice-chairman of Maryland's Life Sciences Advisory Board, he is active in the development of a high-value medical device hub in the Capitol Region and serves on a number of venture capital and private company boards. An Executive in Residence at Johns Hopkins University, Storey has been appointed as Evaluation Director for the NIH Blueprint Neuroscience investment initiative and serves on Advisory Boards for the Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, the Laboratory for Computational Science and Robotics, and the Applied Physics Lab Commercialization Panel. Over the past dozen years, he has secured funding for nearly 100 Hopkins projects through TEDCO's Maryland Innovation Initiative. 

Earlier in his career, Storey joined Exxon Corporation in Houston in 1981, where he worked in performance materials technology, business planning, mergers, and acquisitions for close to 15 years. He was an adviser in Exxon’s Corporate Controller organization, held Sales and Marketing management positions, and crafted the formation of Exxon Chemical’s international joint venture with Mitsubishi Petrochemical of Japan. Storey left Exxon to become General Manager of a privately held engineering company in Maryland. He led the company through a successful sale to Clariant Corporation of Switzerland, with whom he served as Vice President of Clariant’s Performance Products division. Following Clariant, Storey was the CEO of Vapotherm Inc., a medical device company that specialized in noninvasive respiratory devices. While with the firm for over a dozen years, Storey received the U.S Commerce Department’s Export Achievement Award, the Maryland World Trade Center International Leadership Award, and Deloitte’s Technology National Fast 500 award four times.