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RealLIST Startups 2024: Discover the 20 Baltimore startups shaping tomorrow’s entrepreneurial landscape

These companies and nonprofits are set to make waves in everything from cognitive health to menstrual care.

Shouting out Baltimore's RealLIST Startups for 2024. (Technical.ly / Anthony McCray)
This February, we present a moment of anticipation and discovery as we unveil the innovative ventures shaping tomorrow’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Today, we’re releasing our eighth annual RealLIST Startups for Baltimore, in which we spotlight the most promising young tech companies in the region.

To earn a spot on our coveted list, companies must meet the criteria of being founded in 2021 or later, primarily generating revenue from a product and having no prior exit events.

With 10 companies earning a spot on the official RealLIST and 10 runners-up, the stage is set to celebrate and champion the entrepreneurial spirit driving Baltimore’s tech scene forward.

Before you learn about this year’s list, you can check out past years: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.

Without further ado, here are your 2024 RealLIST Startups:

10. Irazú Oncology

This biotech company, founded in 2022, is HQed at the University of Maryland BioPark. Specializing in the use of nanosized outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), the company secured $2.6 million in seed funding last year from notable investors including the Wexford SciTech Venture Fund and the University System of Maryland (USM) Momentum Fund. Its innovative membrane vesicle technology, as well as founder and president Marco Chacón’s prior track record of success, positions it as a contender for this year’s list.

9. Coordle

In 2022, Jen Fry launched Coordle, an app designed for collaborative trip and travel planning. Her platform earned her and her team a spot as early-stage finalists for DC Startup Week the same year. The alum of the 2022-2023 Baltipreneurs Accelerator program is a standout startup that’s also representing the city at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW), where Coordle is a pitch finalist. Fry also stays engaged in the tech scene through activities like volunteering to check attendees in at Black Tech Saturdays, at which she soft-pitched Coordle to Del. Marlon Amprey.

8. NAV

Founded by a senior at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, NAV earns its spot on the list of startups to watch due to its emergence from Baltimore’s youth innovation pipeline. At just 17 years old, founder Shani’a Stevenson is the youngest person ever admitted to Johns Hopkins’ Social Innovation Lab (SIL). Our eyes are on Stevenson, an alum of Dent Education, and her venture, which aims to establish a stigma-free mental health community for teenagers.

7. Storytime AI

In a second entrepreneurial endeavor for cofounder Brian Carlson, Storytime AI, founded in 2023, employs generative AI to assist teachers and parents in creating personalized, culturally relevant, on-demand books for children. This innovative literature app has already garnered a waitlist and seeks to establish partnerships with educational and creative organizations as it expands its reach.

6. Fem Equity

Though not the funding opportunity founder Adeola Ajani initially envisioned in her New Year’s resolution, securing a spot on Technical.ly’s RealLIST Startups after making last year’s runners-up is a well-deserved accolade for her and her venture. Hosting a mini-conference last summer aimed at addressing pay disparities underscored the company’s commitment to social issues. Established in late 2021, the company’s success has already led Ajani to SIL and earned her an invitation to SXSW this year.

5. sommos

Nicole Foster recently launched sommos, an AI-driven platform aiming to improve cognitive health through memory recall and storytelling. The founder of Cajou Creamery, a local plant-based ice cream company, previously described her experience with sommos as transformative, crediting her participation in the Conscious Venture Lab (CVL) accelerator program for both personal growth and entrepreneurial development.

4. Novva Cup

Hailing from rural Wyoming, Danielle Nicklas, CEO and cofounder of Novva Cup, was inspired to create her company after facing hurdles while using menstrual cups. The venture is now part of the 2024 SIL cohort and representing the student community at Johns Hopkins University. Before then, it was selected for FastForward U’s Spring 2022 Fuel accelerator program through Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. Leveraging her background in microbiology and prior experience in the medical device industry, Nicklas and her team are dedicated to integrating biomedical technology into menstrual care. They are in the process of patenting.

“We’d love to develop an educational component to provide those who menstruate with education,” said Nicklas during a recent interview with Technical.ly.

3. EBO

Crystal I. Berger is a Baltimore native and founder of EBO, an innovative booking platform that leverages AI and machine learning to efficiently discover, vet and book on-air talent for media appearances within minutes. With a track record of overseeing 140,000 manual bookings and achieving an 85% increase in diversity while tripling her division’s bookings, according to an email to Tehcnical.ly, Berger and EBO’s journey exemplifies the power of determination and innovation in overcoming barriers and driving meaningful change.

2. ATRICA

Count us in for data engineering with a purpose. Bree Taylor, a former chemist who transitioned into data science, launched ATRICA to tackle social injustices through research-driven activism. ATRICA, short for “Using Activism and Technology to Report on Inequities in Communities,” assists organizations by providing services such as data gathering, processing, visualization and analysis to foster positive social change.

1. Blackbird Labs

Blackbird Laboratories, a new life sciences accelerator, launched in the quiet Woodberry neighborhood of North Baltimore last year. The accelerator aims to address the development gap in the life sciences ecosystem. Johns Hopkins University students Sarah Neshat, Esther Park and Brittni Moore were recently selected as the inaugural fellows for this accelerator. Its mission is to translate their research into successful bio-tech startups. A startup aimed at making more startups? Yes.


And the runners-up, in no particular order:

  • DJ’s Event Planning (EP) — In response to post-pandemic changes to gatherings, DJ’s EP (which we know isn’t necessarily a tech company) and founder DeShawna Jones have stepped up in Baltimore to provide free support to entrepreneurs. Last year, Jones hosted the CEO Workday Event, offering attendees resources to grow their businesses. She is an alumna of Morgan State University’s Baltimore Means Business and Empower by GoDaddy, and has contributed to planning community celebrations for Impact Hub Baltimore at Wine Collective.

 

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  • Turngate — Turngate, a company specializing in software and network management, closed a $5 million seed round on December 19. This raise for the Ellicott City-based company stands out as one of the region’s top five deals in Q4 2023.
  • Balance — Balance, a fintech company based in Baltimore, is a recent participant in the Conscious Venture Lab accelerator. Specializing in streamlining data exchange across banking product lines, clients, departments and other stakeholders, Balance aims to simplify due diligence processes.

  • PneuTech — PneuTech, founded by a student team from Johns Hopkins, aims to innovate biopsy safety and efficacy with its TroCap. This device extends biopsy range while reducing procedural risks. Its curved design enables doctors to navigate around vital body structures like blood vessels, ensuring safer access to biopsy sites and ultimately enhancing patient outcomes. PneuTech earned a $20,000 grant from VentureWell in January 2023.
  • Financial Joy School — Founded in 2021, Financial Joy School is a gaming and education platform dedicated to inclusive financial education. Its founder will be leading a mentor session during SXSW this year.
  • Xclusit — Vincent Johnson initially launched Xclusit, a social shopping platform aimed at empowering local businesses in the evolving commerce landscape, in cities like Atlanta, The platform now boasts a growing client base in Baltimore, including businesses like Berries by Quicha and Storm Boutique.
  • Divaneering Impact Lab — This current SIL cohort participant and Techstars ’23 alum offers a pioneering K-12 program. It focuses on boosting female involvement in STEM fields through creative challenges in fashion, health and beauty design. Participants gain hands-on experience by engaging directly in the startup process, from conception to launch and beyond.
  • OnPoint Ventilation — This Johns Hopkins student venture is a medical device startup focused on developing a novel catheter to enhance one-lung ventilation surgery. With strong support from leading anesthesiologists in Baltimore and extensive validation testing, the company’s technology stands out for its innovation. OnPoint Ventilation has received several accolades, including the $25,000 StAAR Transformative Award from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute; the $50,000 1st Place Champion title from the E-Fest Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Competition; and the $5,000 1st Place Champion award from the HopStart Venture Challenge.
  • Aidin Org — Before founding Aidin Org, an AI co-pilot endorsed by surgeons and tailored for operating room staff, Suvin Seal served as a strategic advisor for Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. Seal also led Aidin through the latest Conscious Venture Labs cohort. We eagerly anticipate what innovations the Hopkins AI and machine learning enthusiast and his team have in store.
  • Morgan State University’s Center for Equitable AI and Machine Learning Systems (CEAMLS)CEAMLS is partnering with Latimer.ai to develop an inclusive large language model (LLM) that reflects and represents BIPOC communities, history and culture. The collaboration aims to create an AI platform free from inherent biases that contribute to inequities. CEAMLS researchers will oversee quality assurance and control testing of the LLM model. Though the project is in its early stages, we see an HBCU startup spinout on the horizon.
    • “As we consider the path forward, we can draw inspiration from figures like Lewis Latimer, whose contributions are often overlooked, but were indispensable for the advancement of the electric lightbulb,” said Morgan State University professor of electrical and computer engineering Kofi Nyaarko in an email to Technical.ly.
Companies: Fem Equity / Morgan State University / University of Maryland BioPark
Series: RealLIST Startups / RealLIST
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