Looking to turn an idea into a business? ETC opens app for PioneerBaltimore - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jul. 11, 2019 2:29 pm

Looking to turn an idea into a business? ETC opens app for PioneerBaltimore

ETC is expanding the size and length of this year's program, and putting a focus on providing access to business-building resources.
Members of PioneerBaltmore’s 2018 cohort.

Members of PioneerBaltmore's 2018 cohort.

(Courtesy photo)

ETC’s PioneerBaltimore program is returning this fall, with a longer timeframe, bigger cohort and a new curriculum.

The Highlandtown incubator opened applications this month for the program, which is designed for idea-stage entrepreneurs who are preparing to launch businesses that use technology to solve a problem. It’s distinct from ETC’s accelerator program, which helps startups that are beyond the idea stage, but it can serve as preparation for that or other ETC initiatives.

Over Tuesday night sessions from Sept. 10 to Aug. 19 at the Small Business Resource Center, it’ll provide guidance in areas such as validating ideas, customer discovery and pitching a business, said ETC Membership Coordinator Amanda Gosling.

The Highlandtown incubator is putting a focus on providing access to the programming for entrepreneurs from underserved communities. As part of that effort, it’s piloting a curriculum from the Daraja Collective, which was founded by Stacyann Russell, who is an African American engineer and entrepreneur.

“She created the program to advance the education and economic levels of underserved communities,” Gosling said.

Another change: The program is free of charge for the 15 entrepreneurs who are accepted into the cohort.

“It used to be $250 fee to participate. This year we’re absorbing the cost because we want it to be more accessible,” Gosling said.

Held during weekly three-hour sessions the evening so people with full-time jobs can attend, the 10-week program covers topics like market research, operations and marketing.

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ETC also wants to offer programming with flexibility that provides activities where participants can get out of their seats, Gosling said. One week is being set aside specifically to help participants get to know each other, and there will be group activities throughout. During one week, the cohort members will be tasked with attending a Baltimore Innovation Week event, and reporting back to the group.

Each entrepreneur is also paired with a mentor, so there’s a chance for forge new relationships with folks experienced in building a business, too. At the end, entrepreneurs will pitch.

Applications are open through Sunday, Aug. 11. The process also includes in-person interviews for the first time, Gosling said.

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