(Photo by Flickr user miladus, used under a Creative Commons license)
Houston native Marc Nathan moved to Baltimore in August, and while he already had something of a favorable opinion of the city’s tech scene — by knowing Betamore cofounder and Baltimore Angels member Greg Cangialosi before even moved here — he says he’s nonetheless surprised with what he has seen so far.
“Baltimore’s in an upswing,” he said.
Nathan, who’s 36 and lives in Owings Mills with his wife, spent time in Houston working for, mentoring and investing in startups, including ones out of that city’s SURGE Accelerator. He now runs an IT and sales recruiting company he founded in June called T-Squared Agency.
In October, Technical.ly Baltimore spoke with Nathan — at the Federal Hill incubator and coworking space Betamore, where Nathan is a part-time member — about what he thinks of Baltimore’s startup community as a relative newcomer looking in.
TB: What’s the biggest difference you see between Houston’s tech scene and Baltimore’s?
MN: Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. We have this little thing called customers. Houston actually has buyers.
TB: So then what intrigues you or interests you about Baltimore?
MN: I feel like the audiences, the people in Baltimore in tech, are a little more sophisticated. The conversations I’ve had have been on a much higher level than what I’m used to. It’s very clear that multiple people are doing multiple things that make sense in unison — building community, reaching out to non-community members.
TB: What about startups specifically? Where does Baltimore rank?
MN: I hope Baltimore startups wouldn’t lose that blue-collar ethos: let’s get shit done. But you need another success. You need a bigger success. A homegrown startup builds and grows in Baltimore, then has a significant exit, with the ability to spin off people from that startup into other startups. You got little bits and pieces of that. Videology, for example. [Videology is an advertising technology startup founded by the people behind Advertising.com, which is based in Tide Point and was acquired by AOL in 2004 for $435 million.]
Find a list of other Baltimore tech exits here.
TB: Since you’ve worked at startups before — do you think startup founders or employees can get too caught up in the culture? Almost like the important thing itself doesn’t become running a business, but being in a startup.
MN: You can get caught up in the lifestyle. That de-focuses certain companies. But people that want to go into a startup because of the lifestyle? They’re pretending. They’re sucking oxygen out of the room.-30-
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