Mercaris, a Silver Spring-based market data service and online trading platform, won the grand prize in this year’s StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition.
Mercaris, led by chief executive Kellee James, was awarded $5,000 to boost its business, which allows its customers to track market information on foods that are organic or not genetically modified.
James said she plans to put her winnings toward her human resources budget. She currently has three full-time workers and two part-time ones, and she hopes to add a computer programmer to her team.
The annual contest, held by The Maryland Women’s Business Center and Rockville Economic Development, drew 42 participants this year. The awards were announced Thursday at an event at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
Other winners included Arti Varanasi, whose took home first prize in the life sciences category for her firm Advancing Synergy. Dana McFadden took home first prize in the technology category for Jai’s Dreams, a firm that specializes in clothes and home goods for infants and toddlers. McFadden also won the Capital Business online poll for readers’ favorite pitch.
In the general business category, Ruth Bielobocky won first prize for Artis Scarvz, a line of scarves that holds its shape.
You can see videos of the participants’ pitches here.