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2014 Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery winners presentation
Dan Cowens '95, right, was among the winners of the third round of Salisbury University's Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition in 2014. Recently, he the businesses he launched with the help of the Shore Hatchery received a Series A funding round in part through the University System of Maryland's Maryland Momentum Fund.

SU Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Winner Receives Boost from USM Maryland Momentum Fund

SALISBURY, MD---In 2014, Salisbury University alumnus Dan Cowens ’95 returned to his Alma Mater to compete in the third round of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business’ Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition.

He applied his $30,000 grand prize toward creating Oasis Marinas, a marina consulting and management firm. An additional $20,000 in prize money during the competition in 2015 helped support a second business: Snag-A-Slip, offering online boat slip rental reservations. Today, they continue as part of Marinalife, Inc., a Baltimore-based boating solutions company acquired by Cowens in 2017.

Nearly a decade after his first win at SU, Cowens is receiving a boost from another University System of Maryland (USM) entity: the Maryland Momentum Fund.

Along with the Propel Baltimore Fund, Abell Foundation and TEDCO, the USM Maryland Momentum Fund was a participant in a recent Series A funding round to support Marinalife’s plans for future market expansion and product development, led by Tennessee-based private equity firm Claritas Capital.

Series A financing represents an investment in a privately held start-up company that has demonstrated the potential to grow and generate additional revenue. With a $16 million commitment from the USM, the Maryland Momentum Fund provides seed funding for promising technology ventures led by USM institutions and their students, faculty and graduates, co-investing alongside venture capitalists, foundations and angel investors.

“Maryland has been and continues to be the perfect home for a company like Marinalife,” said Cowens, a lifelong boater who undertook revolutionizing the marina industry as part of his capstone executive M.B.A. project at the University of Maryland in 2015. “Maryland has a deep boating history, and we’re proud to be leading the nation in modernizing marina operations and improving the boating experience.”

“From his experiences as both a recreational sailor and a business leader, Dan was able to identify technology services that were lacking in the marina industry and turn that into a series of very successful companies,” said William Burke, SU executive director of entrepreneurship and economic development.

“We are happy that SU and the Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery were able to help him launch businesses that are now attracting interest from a private equity firm like Claritas Capital, which prides itself in investing in bold thinkers, developers and visionaries. Dan is a combination of all three, and we are proud to count him as a member of the Sea Gull community.”

For more information about Marinalife visit the company's website.

Since 2013, the Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery at SU has funded 100 startups and small businesses in the Mid-Atlantic. To date, those business have self-reported estimated profits of some $98 million, creating 678 jobs. For more information about the program, visit

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.