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Baltimore

Baltimore, known as “Charm City”, has had an upswing after years of struggling. The number of talented young people moving into the city is steadily increasing, and the city has reported its first positive population growth in years. Baltimore’s location near Washington, D.C. allows for government-oriented businesses without the added cost of actually being located in the District. Local universities such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland provide talent pipelines and are involved in the community through their own accelerators and angel groups. Leading the commercialization of new technologies and the funding of early stage startups is TEDCO, an entrepreneurship organization chartered by the State of Maryland in 1998. Local success story Under Armour has ardently championed the city’s startups, and its future campus in the Port Covington area is slated to create 10,000 new jobs. Despite these recent improvements, the community still faces some challenges. Series A funding is difficult to acquire for startups, and it is challenging to lure talent away from cushy government jobs.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.

Opportunities

  • Location near Washington, D.C. allows for government oriented businesses without the added cost of being located in the District. Excellent lifestyle for employees, who have access to waterfront living, great restaurants, and entertainment.
  • High density of research oriented universities, such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, provide a talent pipeline. They also provide assistance through their respective angel groups, accelerators, and incubators.
  • The presence of the largest single consumer of technology in the world - the US Federal Government - gives startups based in the area coveted access to a major market. Nearby Fort Meade anchors cybersecurity talent in the area, which helps fuel some of the regions startups.
  • The rehabilitation of the downtown is bringing thousands of talented people into the city. Under Armour alone will be responsible for thousands of new jobs in its new Port Covington headquarters.
  • Close-knit community that has relatively easy accessibility for newcomers, compared to the overwhelming size of communities in New York and Silicon Valley.
  • Promising verticals include edtech, biotech, and cybersecurity.

Risk Factors

  • While seed stage financing is relatively easy to attain, bridge and Series A rounds are more difficult to receive.
  • Baltimore’s negative reputation as a hotbed for crime makes recruiting a bit more challenging, however this is just beginning to change as the downtown area is being redeveloped.
  • The high density of federal contractors in the area makes it difficult for startups who have to compete for talent with high paying, low risk employers.
  • The lack of a local billion dollar startup exit, or “unicorn”, makes it challenging for the community to be validated. However, a number of startups are well on their way to the magical number and there is still a large number of well established and successful startups.
  • While the Baltimore area has plenty of technical talent, the non-technical startup talent is not where it needs to be. Moreover, the talent is more interested in working as salaried employees, not as co-founders for equity.
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