Localist, a startup that makes an interactive event marketing calendar, is leaving Baltimore for the Washington, D.C., area. As it grows, the company wants to be closer to a bigger center of the marketing industry, CEO Mykel Nahorniak told Technical.ly Baltimore.
Localist, currently based in Canton, has fewer than a dozen employees, but Nahorniak was one of the earlier founders active in the Baltimore city tech community that has grown in the last decade following the dot-com bubble burst. Though his leaving, perhaps presaged by his concerns about the region not being a national hotbed, will be used as an example of Baltimore losing important anchor companies, he credits the community here for helping the firm grow.
“Baltimore has been a fantastic place to start a company,” Nahorniak wrote. “It’s relatively easy to become a big fish in a small pond, and wonderful resources like the ETC and TEDCO help reduce the barrier to entry.”
Nahorniak moved to Baltimore in 2005 to work for the Baltimore Sun. He and co-founder Nate Mook developed the idea for Localist while Nahorniak was doing freelance web design. The two started Localist in 2009 with a software platform that integrates university calendars with social media to drive web traffic. The company has since broadened the platform to make it available to smaller organizations marketing events looking to streamline their work and boost web traffic.
Nahorniak has been a familiar face at local tech events, as a friend to the former Greater Baltimore Technology Council and former tenant of the previous Emerging Technology Center, and hasn’t been afraid to sound a reality-based note to remind the city of where it stands in the bigger scheme of things — even though it may not go down easy. He’s hoped for big things for Baltimore.
Despite its growth here already, Localist is now looking for more, and moving to D.C. makes “a ton of business sense,” Nahorniak said. In a city like Baltimore, all jobs lost are painful ones, but could more have been done? Nahorniak says he is moving his company to be closer to its active and potential customers. There are much bigger factors at play.
“We sell to directors of marketing, and DC has the highest concentration of marketing professionals in the entire country (not just per capita!),” Nahorniak wrote in an email. When it comes to hiring developers, Nahorniak said, he “doesn’t want to be in the business of poaching developers from my friends’ companies.”
The company is planning to complete the move May 1, and has signed a lease on new offices that will be located off the Silver Spring metro.
“Finding a bigger space in Baltimore that suited us was definitely a challenge, but the decision was definitely a talent and customer acquisition driven decision,” he said.
Currently, Localist has nine employees, and the company is looking to double its number of employees in 2015, as it has each year since founding. Some of the team members may move before May, while others live within a commutable distance already.
“We will miss Baltimore a whole lot (especially the restaurants), but will always come back to visit,” Nahorniak said.