Innovation Fund

Investing in local entrepreneurs to support growth in our community.



Antietam Broadband, in partnership with our parent company, Schurz Communications, is proud to announce the launch of the Antietam Broadband Innovation Fund in Washington County, MD. This Fund will provide investment dollars to local entrepreneur’s startup and growth companies to support, sustain and grow businesses in the county.

The Fund will provide $1,000,000, or $250,000 per year of local investment for four years, that is to be used for investments in flexible structures allocated across a mix of startups and more established growth companies.

An Advisory Committee is being led by Antietam and Schurz and includes local business leaders in Washington County. The Committee will review applications and make the investments.

The Advisory Committee will recommend investments in attractive Washington County based businesses:

  • Investment criteria based on viability, potential, growth and return characteristics that would create jobs in Washington County and benefit the most from local expertise and the Antietam infrastructure.
  • Consideration will be given to women, people of color, people with disabilities, community contributors and members of other minority groups who have met basic investment criteria, as well as businesses that support those groups.
  • The Advisory Committee will make public, at least annually, a report on all firms that receive Innovation Fund investments and the local community impact.

The Advisory Committee includes:

  • Basheer Azizi – Founder/President OPSMART
  • Herb Melrath - Business Consultant with the Maryland SBDC
  • Austin Colby – Hearty Pet, Ship Simply Co-Founder
  • Chuck Ernst - TEDCO Western MD RBII Business Mentor
  • Susan Grimes – Enterprise Sales Executive, Antietam Broadband
  • Faisal Nisar, ZRF Partners

Three Schurz/Antietam executives will round out the Committee, they include:

  • Chris Dautel, VP of Strategic Planning & Corporate Development, Schurz Communications (Committee Chair)
  • Tony Heaton, President and General Manager, Antietam Broadband
  • Randy Berlin, Director of Business Services, Antietam Broadband


The Innovation Fund is designed to inject capital into the Washington County entrepreneurial ecosystem to help startups and growth companies get to the next level.

Is your business a good fit for the Antietam Innovation Fund? Some commonalities for applicants to be a good fit for capital investment include, but are not limited to:

  • Commitment to Washington County, MD
  • Attractive market opportunity (size and growth)
  • Defined market need
  • Differentiated product/solution
  • Sustainable competitive advantage
  • Demonstrated proof of concept
  • Scalable business model
  • Committed management team
  • Producing community value (i.e., creating local jobs with professional growth opportunities)
  • Ability to attract additional capital
  • Ability to generate returns on capital
  • Should have a lead investor, as this is a follow on fund
  • Meeting the above community goals


If you would like to get in touch about potential investment consideration by the Advisory Committee, please send us a note using the form below. For general questions, please contact Randy Berlin (rberlin at antietambroadband dot com) or Tony Heaton (theaton at antietambroadband dot com).


Notice: The Antietam Broadband Innovation Fund is a private investment fund and the Investment Advisory Board is not a public body, nor does it carry a fiduciary responsibility.