Maryland incubators Betamore and the Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI) each had 2020 fundraisers canceled due to the pandemic. So in 2021, they are teaming on a hybrid event series with an aim of making a bigger impact together.
Founder City will include weekly entrepreneurial programming, and a $25,000 pitch competition open to all Maryland-based startups that culminates with simultaneous drive-in events on May 27 in Baltimore and Frederick.
“As a nonprofit organization in Baltimore City, we continue to push forward with our mission of developing our city and region as a global hub for entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Kimmy Andrulonis, director of operations at Betamore. [FITCI CEO] Kathie Callahan Brady and her FITCI team are extremely passionate about getting founders the mentorship and exposure they need to raise more capital and grow. When we decided to cancel Beta City last year, we knew we wanted to plan for something even bigger in 2021. Last fall we came together, and after a few discussions, we felt that partnering on this new state-wide hybrid event made perfect sense.”
Running during April and May, the series seeks to bring together investors, founders and local startup community leaders. Betamore’s Beta City became the biggest tech networking event of the year over the last half-decade as it packed City Garage in Baltimore’s Port Covington, and the pitch competition was often a highlight. In collaborating, the teams wanted to keep that energy intact.
For the pitch competition this year, Maryland-based startups are eligible to apply through May 14.
The finalists will get feedback and mentorship from Chris Haug of Startup Grind Columbia, Mustafa Wahid of Johns Hopkins University, Henry Mortimer of Mortimer Communications, and Mike Thielke of F3 Tech Accelerator.
The May 27 finale event will be held on the City Garage campus and at the fairgrounds in Frederick, complete with a simulcast from both spots. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, the orgs regrouped and pivoted after last year.
“We knew we had to get past all that happened last year and move forward with something that couldn’t be canceled,” Andrulonis said. “Rather than a one-day virtual pitch day, we wanted to expand our reach by collaborating and creating a runway of well produced, virtual programming that supports our entrepreneurial ecosystem. In addition, we are using an innovative new app-based pitch platform, Thumbraise, for submissions, which has thousands of investors on the platform.”
For the weekly virtual programming, events are taking place each Wednesday at noon. The first, coming up on April 7 and curated by software development agency SmartLogic, will have a focus on raising institutional funding, with a panel featuring founders including Sonavi Labs’ Ellington West, Protenus’ Nick Culbertson and Facet Wealth’s Anders Jones, along with investor Calvin Young of Camden Partners. Other topics include workforce, crypto and decentralized finance, digital health and diversity, equity and inclusion.
“As many organizations continue to pivot and grow post-pandemic, it is important to us that Founder City be a place where all Maryland-based startups have the opportunity to be seen and supported, both on a regional and national scale,” Andrulonis said.
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