Startups

With $3.5M raised, EcoMap Technologies looks to grow its local footprint

Despite the VC market slowing down, EcoMap Technologies was able to secure a multimillion-dollar raise. Its founders explain how, and what they plan to do with the funds.

The staff of EcoMap Technologies.

(Courtesy photo)

Correction: An earlier version of this story named Conscious Venture Lab as a participant in EcoMap Technologies's seed round. The funder's name is Conscious Venture Partners. (6/7/2022, 4:30 p.m.)

After successful participation in such accelerators and pitch days as the Techstars Equitech Accelerator and Baltimore Homecoming’s Crab Tank competition, EcoMap Technologies today announced that it successfully closed a $3.5 million seed round.

A statement from the 2022 RealLIST Startups honoree acknowledged the aforementioned Equitech cohort as one of several catalysts for this raise, which will support the company’s plans to grow its team from 16 people to 2022 in the next six months.

The seed round was led by Las Olas Venture Capital, with participation from Techstars, Conscious Venture Partners, GroTech Ventures, TCP Venture Capital and other entities. It also was closed in a particularly tight economic climate: The record raises of the pandemic are slowing and the market is not just returning to normalcy, but also starting to clutch its purse. That didn’t matter to EcoMap Technologies, though, because the company has proven its market value by generating revenue. The company, whose specialty in mapping business and entrepreneurship ecosystems has already benefitted clients in localities as varied as Baltimore and Ghana, had between six and eight employees before it first opened up to outside funding.

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“I think gone are the days where you can just get away on hype,” Pava LaPere, cofounder and CEO of EcoMap Technologies, told Technical.ly. “I really want founders to start prioritizing actual revenue. Getting somebody to pay you for something. I don’t think any of the other metrics of being in a hot industry or superficial sponsorships are enough to raise a round at this point.”

That focus on revenue was partly driven by necessity. As a company led by a woman and a Black man, EcoMap Technologies initially struggled to raise funds. Baltimore’s ecosystem was also far less developed back in 2016, when the idea for the company was birthed out of a two-year research study with Johns Hopkins University venture incubator The Hatchery. LaPere was also 21 and still in college, so getting investors interested wasn’t happening. The company had to make money to survive.

“My dad is a [nontech] business owner,” LaPere explained. “In regular business, you have to make money or you don’t have a business. Even though we’re investing heavily in growth, I’m always focused on how are we growing our bottom line because [the big raise] doesn’t matter if you don’t have a sustainable business model at the end of the day.”

The ecosystem builder will be bringing on new heads of marketing, sales and customer success, with the goal of creating a team that does both product and brand marketing.  All the new employees will either live or be relocating to Baltimore. LaPere and Sherrod Davis, the company’s cofounder and COO,  feel that an in-person presence aids startups’ impact on the local tech ecosystem. Beyond the benefits to team effectiveness and camaraderie, the push to work and live in Baltimore also aligns with the company’s mission to support Baltimore by exposing great talent to the charm of the city.

For brand marketing, the company seeks someone that understands what ecosystems are, why they’re inaccessible and why that matters. On the product marketing side, it wants people that understand channel marketing or the practice of working with a third party to take your products or services to market. As a mission-driven company, the founders are looking for people that interested in not just cool tech, but having an impact on the communities in which they live.

“We’re at the cusp of something really meaningful,” Davis said. “We envision a world where every ecosystem everywhere is accessible to everyone. But I can’t emphasize [enough] the implications of what that means. For so long, the people who needed that information the most were the last to know. Pava and I are hyperfocused on ensuring that changes.”


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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