Baltimore accelerator Conscious Venture Lab is moving from space at Baltimore City Community College in West Baltimore to a Port Covington hub for organizations doing work to help the city.
The accelerator, which focuses on supporting startups that are growing social impact models as well as sustaining revenue, is set to take space in the 50,000-square-foot space at Impact Village. That building is located on West Dickman Street, just behind the bus garage-turned-business hub City Garage. Baltimore Business Journal was first to report the news.
It comes three years after Conscious Venture Lab made the move to West Baltimore from Howard County, where it was founded, into Baltimore city. Alongside ventures like Innovation Village, which also opened a hub at BCCC, it was part of a wave of activity to create business resources in West Baltimore that followed the 2015 Baltimore Uprising.
“The space and location was ideal for us to launch in Baltimore and BCCC was an incredible partner. We also really enjoyed connecting with the folks from YearUp and being connected with Adrian Harpool who helped us often in terms of marketing and communications. And, we always knew it would be temporary,” said Conscious Venture Lab founder Jeff Cherry.
Ahead of the move, Conscious Venture Lab already had a good relationship with folks behind the Port Covington development project, which is the ambitious plan to transform 235 acres on the South Baltimore waterfront into a mixed-use community. Cherry said Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, who made the initial land purchases and whose Sagamore Ventures is part of the Port Covington development team with Weller Development Company and Goldman Sachs, was an early investor in Conscious Venture Lab. BCCC has now decided to convert the space for other purposes, and Conscious Venture Lab “worked with them to create a smooth transition. It’s been a win for all involved,” Cherry said.
With Impact Village, the Port Covington development team set aside free office space for organizations and ventures that are helping the city, said Marc Broady, VP of community affairs at Weller Development.
“The idea is to create this ecosystem of creativity where people can grow and continue to do great work in Baltimore without having to have that overhead cost,” he said.
It started in 2017 when Citywide Youth Development moved into the space. With that economic empowerment nonprofit set to decamp for its own new space in West Baltimore, Impact Village now has a slate of tenants including professional attire provider Suited to Succeed and postpartum doula care provider MOM Cares. The Impact Village model is to help organizations grow to the point where they can take their own space within about a year.
Being an accelerator that works with groups of startups, Conscious Venture Lab will in turn bring more companies to the space on the top floor of the building. These are companies focused on making an impact in the world as well as creating value. And the cohorts are diverse, with women and people of color well-represented among the founders.
“That’s a perfect anchor for us to have,” Broady said.
For Conscious Venture Lab, the new location will open up new relationships.
“We’re interested in understanding more about Port Covington and the surrounding communities, like Cherry Hill, where my mother grew up, to see how we can help create more economic opportunity in those communities,” Cherry said.
Conscious Venture Lab is set to bring on a new cohort in the fall; it will start virtually. The org has collaborated with Annapolis accelerator FounderTrac to develop a platform for its content.
“We believe it will be one of the most powerful and fully integrated platforms for finding, training and investing in diverse founders yet available,” Cherry said.-30-
This DC office building’s Balti Virtual-built AR exhibit gives voice to Black history
How SmartLogic is supporting resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic — in Baltimore and beyond
VC investment shows no signs of a pandemic slowdown
How 3 Baltimore startups adapted health technology for COVID-19 response
Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Baltimore