Hutch is graduating its second cohort of companies, providing a boost to Black founders in Baltimore’s civic tech ecosystem.
The two-year incubator program was launched by downtown software company Fearless to support civic tech companies that are working in the area of digital services for the federal government. This week, it graduated four companies, making it a total of nine companies that Fearless has reached back and brought into the civic tech space since it launched in 2019.
“Hutch is designed to empower and connect underrepresented entrepreneurs. The program aspires to provide them with a strong foundation so they can grow their businesses without getting overrun by bigger industry competitors,” said Stephanie Chin, program manager of Hutch. “These four graduating entrepreneurs are already making an impact across government, in agencies such as The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”
Here’s more about the graduating businesses in this cohort and the “why” behind their companies and commitment to entrepreneurship.
- ioCyber, founded by Angelo Crawford, is a cybersecurity company that secures organizations using expertise in identifying security risks and penetration testing. His why for starting his business is bringing tech opportunities that changed his life to inner city communities and opening doors to careers he didn’t have growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania.
- Lucky Rabbit, founded by Shaun Edens, is a digital services firm that delivers simply designed innovations that provide quantum improvements using technology and data. His why for starting his business was about food stability, feeding 100,000 kids and making sure people’s basic needs are met so they can live and thrive.
- Systone Iterations, founded by Stephen Ibitoye, seeks to transform outdated processes and implement data-driven decisions. His why for starting his company was building a legacy for his family.
- Theta, founded by Emmanuel Iroanya, is a full-service digital and management firm with a mission to create a world where technology works for everybody. His why was built around his frustration of being at these stakeholder tables in tech and being the only face that looks like him. Equity is an afterthought and bad products are being built as a result because they aren’t indicative of the diverse communities we live in.
To cap off the graduation, Fearless CEO Delali Dzirasa reminded every founder graduating from Hutch to remember their people-centered “whys.” That why will be the thing that powers them through the undoubtedly hard days to come on the journey of an entrepreneur.
“No one said I’m going to build this web app and it’s going to be awesome. All of them talked about people,” Dzirasa said of the cohort members. “Because that’s the difference, no matter what’s your business it’s going to be a people business and I don’t want you to ever forget that. Remember your why.”
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-