The On Ramp accelerator program through the Greater Baltimore Technology Council offers all the benefits of a traditional accelerator minus the financial transactions—no fees to get into the program and no equity stake in your startup is exchanged for entrance into the GBTC program.
“The idea is to bring in pre-funded startups … for mentoring, coaching and [to] form a peer-to-peer group,” says GBTC’s Sharon Paley.
Started in April, five startups meet with Paley and GBTC director Jason Hardebeck about every 30 days for informal group sessions where they discuss “pivots people are considering” and obstacles the founders are contending with, Paley says. Right now, BeerGivr, Crowdstitch, Laudeo, Handteq Mobile and YellY’all are the startups involved with On Ramp.
“What Jason and I really try to do is identify those critical obstacles that are in the way of a company [and] help that company find a mentor in the community,” says Paley. So, for instance, if one of the startups just launched a new website, the group will offer their comments before Hardebeck and Paley find a digital marketing expert in Baltimore city, who will offer a few hours of consulting free of charge.
The goal of On Ramp, Paley says, is to “encourage these companies to get to the point where they have paying customers as quickly as possible.”