Baltimore Innovation Week / Startups / Awards

BIW check-in: The 10 realLIST startups in Baltimore

Here's another look at the 2017 list of the young companies we’re following closely, with a look at what they've been up to since January.

Go learn something. (Photo by Flickr user Hamza Butt, used under a Creative Commons license)
In a growing startup community, it’s important to keep track of how many companies are forming and where they congregate.

As they push ahead, those companies take many little steps in ways that impact individuals and Baltimore as a whole. While there are lots of considerations along the way, the reality is that most are working toward a win — in whatever form it may come.
And the community is watching to see who will get there. We hear it in spirited happy hour chats, and see it in statements from investors.
So it’s worth considering: Which startups are real?
Earlier this year, published the first edition of its realLIST across five markets.
So what exactly makes a company real? For one, a bold idea. Are the founders hoping to cash in on a buzzy market or are they going after a big idea?
The founders themselves are also important. Plenty of investors we’ve talked to identify team as one of the key factors in choosing where to invest (often more so than the “idea” of the company itself).
There’s also factors like customers and revenue, investment capital, team size and office space.
We took the liberty of setting up a few ground rules to narrow the scope of our experiment. To be considered for our realLIST companies had to:

  • Have been founded no earlier than 2013. This sunset period took away lots of real contenders as well as the companies which have moved out of that early stage. We had to draw the line somewhere.
  • Make the majority of their revenue from a product. That means agencies were not eligible.
  • Have not exited or undergone an acquisition or something close to that nature (think OrderUp or Millennial Media).

And so, here is Baltimore’s 2017 realLIST, complete with updates through the first half of 2017.
(One important caveat about this list: Not making this list does not mean we deem a startup “unreal.” This is simply a snapshot of what we’re most excited about right now.)

10. B.well

The idea behind this startup’s platform to integrate healthcare data and services caught our attention, and founder Kristen Valdes oversaw quick growth in the company’s first two years. The company is currently a member of the M-1 Ventures’ accelerator program, which is focusing on health and fitness companies. Valdes also pitched at last week’s Beta City event.

9. Blispay

Key members of the Canton-based fintech company (including founder Greg Lisiewski) have experience delivering a Baltimore win at Bill Me Later/PayPal. With two eight-figure fundraising rounds in two years (including a $12 million Series A in May) and a model that looks to bring financing to a new market, this is one to watch.

8. Harpoon Medical

The device from the University of Maryland School of Medicine spinout makes open heart surgery less invasive. That’s a big advancement. A financing deal that could lead to an acquisition by Edwards Lifesciences has many in Baltimore paying attention.

7. FactoryFour

This startup was named Fusiform when we first published the realLIST in early 2017. Though they started by focusing on orthotics, cofounders Param Shah and Alex Mathews arrived at an even bigger idea that could change how all manufacturers handle digital fabrication. Client deals and new Mt. Vernon office space in 2017 signaled business growth, as well.

Param Shah and Alex Mathews at the FactoryFour office.

Param Shah and Alex Mathews at the FactoryFour office.

6. Fixt

The Fells Point-based company’s on-demand device repair platform got our attention with some eye-catching supporters and a willingness to change (i.e., a 2016 name change from Peach). That, paired with investment from a diversity-focused venture firm, brought in new members of its leadership team. CEO Luke Cooper also brought home the win at Light City’s Ravens Pitch Competition.

Luke Cooper pitches Fixt at the Ravens Innovation Challenge.

Luke Cooper pitches Fixt at the Ravens Innovation Challenge.

5. Terbium Labs

One of several Baltimore companies to quickly progress to a Series A round, the company’s product is used by companies like MasterCard and Thomson Reuters. The Federal Hill–based cybersecurity startup could be the latest to make quick progress toward becoming a bigger company from that area.

4. Emocha mobile health

We were intrigued by the Johns Hopkins spinout company’s progress in signing deals for its app that allows video monitoring of medical treatment for tuberculosis. In the first half of 2017, the startup set its sight on treatment opioid addiction, and raised fresh capital to commercialize that use case in the second half of the year.

3. Yet Analytics

The startup’s fascinating work to help disparate forms of data work together and ambition to build a big company in Baltimore have us on notice. In the first half of 2017, the startup pulled in fresh funding, made a key COO hire and nabbed a key certification for its Learning Record Store. The company also recently relocated to a new downtown office space.

2. Protenus

We’ve asked whether a startup that combines healthcare and cybersecurity is the perfect combo for Baltimore, given the region’s established strengths. The startup pulled in fresh funding, adding $3 million addition to its Series A and getting backing from some notable national investors in of 2017.

1. Allovue

Having invented the vertical of edfintech and making a commitment to diverse hiring practices that can set an important example for the city, the startup topped our list. In the first half of 2017, the company launched a new budgeting tool for school districts.

Series: RealLIST Startups / RealLIST

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