NoBadGift.com co-founder and self-proclaimed hustler McKeever Conwell heads to San Francisco in August to begin his 12-week tenure at the NewME Accelerator. Conwell and his two partners, Sam Henry and Michael Washington, have had a whirlwind last six months, as Technically Baltimore reported this morning.
But will NoBadGift.com heading westward be a story of loss for Baltmore’s startup community?
Recently, Technically Baltimore sat down with Conwell to talk about what excites he and his co-founders about this new accelerator, popping up in TechCrunch and what’s keeping them tied to Charm City.
TB: So, NewME, out in Silicon Valley. Big deal, right?
MC: It means new opportunities, networking. We’re probably not going to do another accelerator after this [laughing]. It’s an opportunity to go out to California. And we were on TechCrunch—one thing to take off my bucket list.
TB: Are you guys anxious at all about having your name in Silicon Valley?
MC: We’ll be more open to the public eye. It’s also scary—companies there get great press, but their competitors are all ramping up [after reading about them].
TB: Is this just a temporary stay, so to speak? Does NoBadGift.com have any intention of leaving Baltimore?
MC: We have to be stationed in Baltimore—at least, our headquarters—for five years [as a condition of Accelerate Baltimore’s terms]. But I’m from Baltimore, I love Baltimore. I haven’t left yet.
TB: What makes Baltimore’s tech community unique? In Baltimore, it seems, people are able to make a big splash. Seems Silicon Valley isn’t quite like that.
MC: Baltimore’s tech community is a small and very tight-knit group. This community really helps each other. These people are accessible to me, and we all want to help Baltimore. You can be a rock star in the tech community and not get pummeled. I don’t know if I can do that in Silicon Valley. I don’t know if everyone wants to help in San Francisco.
TB: You had a six-figure job at age 22, making more money than, say, your friendly neighborhood technology journalist might make. Why leave that?
MC: If you’re a developer, you have the skill set to rule the world. A lot of schools sell you on getting a skill set and getting a job in an industry. No one ever gives [students] this [startup] mindset. What do you want out of life? Are you fulfilled, happy, enjoying it? The rewards from [running a startup] are so different. I can effect so much more change—effect real change, doing what I’m doing.