Victor Hugo, an esteemed French poet, wrote, “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.” His quote explains my relationship with Baltimore. Through the entrepreneurship community, I’ve gained a sense of belonging in the city.
Originally, I am from North Potomac, Md., a suburb of D.C. Ever since I can remember, my Friday nights were spent watching Shark Tank. While munching on my dinner, I would take notes and analyze the sharks’ comments and pitches from the entrepreneurs. This was my first exposure to entrepreneurship.
Fast forward to junior year of high school when looking at colleges, Towson University (TU) was on my list of choices to explore. When talking to my neighbors and friends, they all knew someone who went to TU and loved it. Everyone only said positive things about the university. When I got the TU acceptance letter in the mail my senior year of high school, I was thrilled. With all of the positive feedback from friends and family, a quality education was affordable, and within reach. But I was concerned about leaving D.C. It was the only city I knew and loved. The only time I would go to Baltimore was to see an Orioles game or go to the Baltimore Aquarium. It was time to take the leap and get out of my bubble.
After exploring several majors at TU including Economics and Finance and wealth management/ financial planning internships, I had an epiphany: Deep down, I knew that I lived and breathed startups. Entrepreneurship was my calling. I loved the idea of being an invaluable member of a startup team. I loved the idea of being in the trenches doing whatever it takes to thrive. I loved the idea of a lively work environment with creative juices flowing. I loved the idea of working with individuals who have pioneered an innovative mindset. I loved the idea of shaping the culture around me.
To pursue my passions, the first step was to switch my concentration to Entrepreneurship. I credit the Entrepreneurship Program at TU as the hands-on, experiential learning that pushed me out of my D.C. bubble. Through the Entrepreneurship Program at TU, I have been introduced to Baltimore innovators via networking events, professional development seminars, immersion sessions, and more.
Prior to this realization, I had no exposure to entrepreneurship in Greater Baltimore. And to be honest, I didn’t know there was an entrepreneurship community in Baltimore until Jan Baum introduced me to it. As the Director for Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at TU, she works hard on building an entrepreneurial ethos at the university. Not only did Jan introduce me to all of the aforementioned experiences, Jan taught me three of the most crucial things for working for a startup and being an entrepreneur:
- Always have a yes, and attitude. Innovation doesn’t happen if you say no.
- Always fail forward. Take ownership of your failures and learn from them.
- Always be a self-starter.
I carry those lessons forward with me every day. The abundance of entrepreneurial ecosystem development opportunities to put them into action is one of the many reasons I am here to stay.
From seed funding through Baltimore Angels to coworking spaces like Emerging Technology Centers and Spark Baltimore, there are a plethora of resources to help innovators bring their endeavors to fruition. From leading multinational organizations to mission-driven social impact nonprofits, I’ve met many businesses located in Baltimore that have a mission of making the “Charm City” the best it can be.
Like TU, Baltimore is constantly growing and changing. You can craft your own personal journey in Baltimore. In other large metropolitan cities, your identity is already defined. In Baltimore, I broke out of the enclosed box that other cities wanted me to be. I took a chance, moved to a new city, and took full advantage of all the educational, business, and cultural opportunities in Baltimore and never looked back.
My love for Baltimore came through taking a risk by stepping into an unknown territory. In the process, I found out who I really was: a zany startup dude. I am passionate about entrepreneurial ecosystem development because it made me love this city so much.
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