startups

Accelerate Baltimore 2016 Grads: Staying Connected with the Cohort

It’s been an exciting year for Accelerate Baltimore. Applications opened for the 2016 cohort in October of 2015 and AB received over 100 applicants. The competition was high, but the six selected created a great cohort of diverse founders and industries.

In case you’re just tuning in now, our 2016 cohort consisted of the following tech startups:  Loople, MyBestBox, Point3 Security, ClassTracks, RAKKOON, and Fusiform.

These 6 companies each received $25,000 from the Abell Foundation in seed funding and participated in an intensive four month program focusing on the next step for their businesses. The program concluded with two events, Investor Pitch Night and Demo Day, and one company receiving additional funding through the Accelerate Baltimore program.

Investor Pitch Night

Accelerate Baltimore’s Investor Pitch Night was held on April 27, 2016 at the Single Carrot Theater in Hampden, Baltimore.

With an audience of 70 investors, Investor Pitch Night created the ideal opportunity for the cohort, not only because of the future investment opportunities in the room but for the cohort to pitch the selection committee for an additional $100,000. After the pitches were finished, a panel of 9 judges deliberated and came to a conclusion that MyBestBox would be the winner.

Demo Day

This was a big year for Accelerate Baltimore as the 5th cohort completed the program.

The event consisted of the cohort demo’ing their products, networking with the Baltimore community, and presenting what they’ve accomplished over the four month period.

In addition, three Accelerate Baltimore grads, Brinkbit, NewsUp and Full Society, returned to take part in the demos as well. With a great turn out, great food from the Sunshine Grille, and a Pixilated Photobooth, the Accelerate Baltimore 5 Year Celebration was a great success for all who participated and attended.

Now that it's been over a month since the completion of our 2016 program - the big question is, what is the cohort up to now? Take a look:

MyBestBox

Since being awarded the additional funding from Accelerate Baltimore, MyBestBox has joined ETC Incubate Baltimore program and moved into the ETC Haven Campus and their own warehouse!

ClassTracks

ClassTracks applied and was accepted to participate in the Lean Lab fellowship program in Kansas City, MO. Cofounders Lida Zlatic and Thierry Uwilingiyimana will spend four weeks at the Lean Lab and receive $10,000 with the chance at another $25,000 at the end of the program.

Fusiform

Since the program ended, Fusiform has actively been fundraising. They also were seen taking the stage at this Summer’s MAVA TechBUZZ event.

Loople

Loople recently pitched to a team of investors at Baltimore’s Piranha Tank. They were also one of five ETC companies to be nominated for this year’s Incubator Company of the Year Award. Looking to download Loople? You can find the app on both Google Play and Apple App Stores. 

Point3 Security

Point3 Security continues to move their business forward and was one of 5 ETC companies nominated for Incubator Company of the Year Award. Point3 also received the Cyber Innovator Award at TechAwards. 

RAKKOON

Continuing to grow and move their business forward, RAKKOON has joined the ETC Incubate Baltimore program and moved into the ETC Haven Campus.
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Accelerate Baltimore™ is an initiative of the ETC (Emerging Technology Centers), Baltimore’s award winning incubator, and The Abell Foundation.

ETC Announces Accelerate Baltimore's Additional $100,000 in Funding to be Awarded to Baltimore Based MyBestBox

Baltimore, MD (May 19, 2016) –Today, the ETC (Emerging Technology Centers), Baltimore City’s award-winning technology and innovation centers, announced that the winning company to be awarded the additional, follow on funding of $100,000 will be Baltimore based MyBestBox. Each year, Accelerate Baltimore awards six companies $25,000 each in seed funding and provides an intensive four-month program to help them move their businesses forward. 

ETC President and Executive Director, Deb Tillett commented, “The ETC believes this additional funding will truly “accelerate” the growth potential for MyBestBox. The six companies that participated in this year’s program all worked as hard as they could and ETC will continue to support them as they grow their companies.” 

This is the fifth year in which the ETC, in partnership with the Abell Foundation, has successfully run Accelerate Baltimore. To date, 28 companies including Allovue, NewsUp and Unbound Concepts, have graduated from the program raising a total of $10.8 million in follow on funding. After looking extensively at early stage funding trends in the current market, and the experiences of the past four years of AB companies, ETC concluded that requesting additional funding from its Abell Foundation partners in the amount of $100,000 would enhance the probability that these companies would be successful. Robert C. Embry, Jr., President of the Abell Foundation, said “the Accelerate Baltimore competition keeps innovating and improving with each year and we know, based on how hard the companies work during the accelerator program, that there was stiff competition for the winning final investment. We wish all the participating companies great success and continued growth in Baltimore City.” 

At the end of the 2016 program this April, this year’s six companies pitched the judging panel made up of local investors for a chance at the additional $100,000. The Accelerate Baltimore’s Investor Pitch Night was held at the Single Carrot Theatre and MyBestBox was the choice to receive the additional funding. 

MyBestBox is a lifestyle brand that helps people jump-start and maintain healthy lifestyles in a way that is convenient and cost-effective. Their consumer product consists of boxes filled with essential items that cover a broad range of health and wellness areas. During the program, MyBestBox partnered with UberRUSH to deliver emergency health boxes to people 24/7, within an hour of the request. In addition to the company’s partnership with Uber, founder Fatima Dicko also won the Best Entrepreneur Award at this year’s Cupid’s Cup; a business plan and pitch competition sponsored by Under Armour’s Kevin Plank. 

“The Accelerate Baltimore program has been instrumental in helping us work toward concrete and realistic goals.” Said Fatima Dicko, CEO of MyBestBox. “There are a million different things every startup can do, but by focusing only on tasks that ultimately advance a specific goal, the team can prioritize and ultimately become more effective.” 

About the ETC: www.etcbaltimore.com 

The ETC, a venture of the Baltimore Development Corporation, is a 501(c) (3) technology and innovation center focused on growing early-stage companies. The ETC provides three programs for entrepreneurs: a tech focused incubator, Incubate Baltimore, a seed accelerator program, Accelerate Baltimore and a coworking space open to innovative individuals and teams, Beehive Baltimore. The ETC promotes economic development, providing business, technical, and networking connections to help these companies grow. Since 1999, the ETC has provided assistance to over 350 companies, 85% of which are still in business, creating more than 2,500 jobs and raising more than $2.2 Billion in outside funding.

Startup Accelerator Spotlight: Accelerate Baltimore

"The most important role the accelerator program can play is that of the ultimate connector. The community and connections that the accelerator operators, mentors and program professionals offer is critical to the success of the companies."

Name of Accelerator:   ETC’S (Emerging Technology Center) Accelerate Baltimore

Location:   Baltimore, Maryland

Website:   www.acceleratebaltimore.com

President and Executive Director:   Deb Tillett

This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight Series featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator program.

In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives.

ETC’s  Accelerate Baltimore is in its fifth year. The goal when started was to attract startups and create business and impact for the city of Baltimore. ETC’s core business was basic startup incubation, but in 2012, we added co-working and the accelerator.

Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.

The accelerator cohort operates for four months in a collaborative community of other successful startups and, along with seed stage funding, are offered four additional months (for free) in the ETC incubator program. The program is run by me, formerly an entrepreneur, who knows their journey. We have tried to iterate and innovate our program year on year.

What is the most difficult part of working with startups?

Interestingly, it is getting them to understand the importance of getting the product out there and going after customers. Most accelerator/incubator managers stress the importance of the “investor pitch”. We are starting to pivot to stressing the “sales pitch”. Get the MVP out the door, find the customer and sell hard. Revenue beats investment every time.

What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with entrepreneurial startups?

I laugh when I say this, but I love their passion and the creativity. I get to tell them all what to do – then I don’t have to do it!!! Seriously, as someone who has been down that journey, I know execution is everything and watching these founders go from idea to implementation and know they’re “doing it” instead of the talking about it, is everything. It is fun to watch the growth over the four month period of time.

Tell us about your success stories; which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?

Our program has a unique MBD/WBE (women and minority) stat of over 50% and in the tech world, that is rare. Two success stories, Allovue and PrintLess Plans come to mind.

  1. Allovue was started by a young TFA (Teach for America) woman who had an idea for a startup. She incorporated February 1, 2013 and was chosen for our program February 15, 2013. She taught herself some basic coding and quickly dove head first into the program and now three years later has closed on a $6 million dollar round and has active paying customers in a difficult market segment – Ed Tech.
  2. PrintLess Plans, a company started by two African American engineers who developed a software/hardware solution for architects and their drawings and plans so they can be delivered electronically to a foldable viewing screen to cut down on waste and errors in the field while on the job. The architectural drawings are updated instantly while on the job site, wirelessly through a smartphone or tablet.

What are the most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?

  • Will the finite period of time and the seed funding really move the business/idea forward?
  • The commitment is full-time and should be viewed as your number one priority during the length of the program.

What else would you like to share?

The most important role the accelerator program can play is that of the ultimate connector. The community and connections that the accelerator operators, mentors and program professionals offer is critical to the success of the companies. Again, I will stress the commitment on the part of the entrepreneur is critical – it truly is all or nothing.

 

In search of an accelerator that aligns with your startup’s needs?  Try TurboFunder’s Find My Acceleratorsearch tool!

Interested in accelerators in the Startup Accelerator Spotlight?