Arts / Business development / Education / Hiring / Startups

City Garage has a new tenant

Cwist, which makes an online platform for “makers and learners aged 3 to 103,” is relocating from Annapolis.

Part of the complex in 2011. (Photo by Flickr user Mark ZIMIN, used under a Creative Commons license)
Updated with comments from Cwist CEO Chris Sleat and Sagamore Ventures Managing Partner Demian Costa. (2/4/16, 2:26 p.m.)

City Garage announced a new tenant this week.
Edtech firm Cwist, which started in Annapolis, is set to move into the Port Covington space for startups that is owned by Kevin Plank’s real estate arm. CEO Chris Sleat, previously a leader at Annapolis-based startups Inclinix and Realinterface, says the opportunity to be at City Garage and near tech and creative talent in the city led to the move.
The startup makes a platform that provides maker education materials. Sleat said the use of physical products in the lessons the company provides are key. Along with providing materials, the company can also aggregate content from partner companies. For instance, Cwist most recently started working with robotics company Sphero to provide on its education hub, called SPRK Lightning Lab.
Given the maker element, the company ended up a good fit with City Garage, which is looking to focus on startups that make stuff.
“The community of innovators in the product space is currently experiencing rapid growth. Cwist’s ability to give this community a tool to truly differentiate their product is extraordinary,” said Demian Costa, managing partner of Plank’s Sagamore Ventures.
“If we’re going to teach kids project-based learning with our partner companies,” Sleat said, mentioning drones and robotics, “I can’t think of a better spot to be at.” He added that he felt lucky to be entering City Garage at the early stage.
Along with the move, the company received a $1.25 million investment from Sagamore and Severna Park-based SFP Capital. In all, the company is planning a $1.5 million funding round.
The company will use the money to hire a Baltimore-based team to add to the two full-time employees and 11 contractors currently working at the company. Right now, four positions in sales, design and development are open.
Along with the chance to be at City Garage, Sleat said Baltimore’s edtech expertise and tech talent in general were another reason to move to the city. He’s looking to hire in the videography area, and mentioned MICA’s film program as an enticing source of talent. The talent will be needed, as the company expects to ramp up with more partnerships this year.
“We have a lot of reasons for us to get good people in and get processes really tight as we try to ramp up this year,” he said.
City Garage officially opened a 133,000-square-foot space for startups called “Main Street” in the fall. Other tenants include glass-blown product maker Tapologie and bottling operations for Sagamore Spirit, which is Plank’s whiskey distillery.

Companies: Sagamore Ventures / cwist

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