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These are the 20 most exciting startups in Baltimore right now: realLIST 2017

Meet the companies that stood out, and who we're watching closely this year.

A Baltimore view. (Photo by Flickr user Tony Brooks, used under a Creative Commons license)

The volume of startups says a lot about an area’s viability.
But as that number keeps growing, it’s worth considering which of those companies are “real.” It helps people who track startups (like, say, journalists) keep tabs on the next big companies coming out of Baltimore.
That’s why created the realLIST: a roundup of the top companies whose moves we’ll be tracking but, also, companies which have already proven to be “real” in their short lifespans.
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. That sunset period stems from cofounder Christopher Wink’s 2012 definition of a startup. This sunset period took away lots of real contenders (RedOwl, Citelighter and many more) as well as the companies which have moved out of that early stage (like ZeroFOX). We had to draw the line somewhere.
  • Make the majority of their revenue from a product. That means agencies were not eligible (sorry, Mindgrub).
  • 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. Click on each company to read our coverage and get a sense as to why they made it.
(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 the startup’s platform for healthcare data caught our attention, and founder Kristen Valdes oversaw quick growth in the company’s first 18 months.

9. Blispay

  • With the team’s past experience at Bill Me Later/PayPal Credit and a seed round that made a splash, this startup looking to make financing options available to smaller retailers shows promise to be the next big player out of Canton.

8. Harpoon Medical

  • The University of Maryland School of Medicine spinout’s device that would make open heart surgery less invasive signals a big advancement, and could be acquired by Edward Lifesciences as soon as this year.

7. Fusiform

  • Johns Hopkins undergrads Param Shah and Alex Matthews went through two of the city’s accelerators at once. They also have a bold vision to reinvent how orthopedic devices are made.

6. Fixt

  • The device repair startup began at Techstars, received investment from West Coast entrepreneurs and seems to be signing big new companies every time we check in.

5. Terbium Labs

  • One of Baltimore’s promising cybersecurity startups, Terbium raised a $6.4 million Series A in 2016 and lists a host of big companies as clients.

4. emocha Mobile Health

  • A Dreamit alum commercializing out of Johns Hopkins that signed deals for its app to monitor medication with big municipalities in Texas and California.

3. Yet Analytics

  • When CEO Shelly Blake-Plock says he wants to build a big company in Baltimore, one tends to pay attention. The startup bringing the DoD-developed xAPI into the commercial world is set to keep growing after closing new funding.

2. Protenus

  • Founded out of Dreamit, the healthcare cybersecurity startup grew its team after a $4 million Series A in 2016, and health data breaches seem to make its platform frequently needed.

1. Allovue

  • After inventing a vertical (edfintech) and raising a $5.1 million Series A, the startup’s approach to hiring a diverse team and a new Remington office continue to make it one to watch.

Honorable Mention

A few observations:

  • Yes, we’ve got plenty of health IT, cybersecurity and edtech, befitting of a Baltimore list;
  • At least five companies have female founders;
  • The city’s incubator and accelerator programs are well-represented with ETC/Accelerate Baltimore, Betamore, the now-defunct Dreamit Health Baltimore, JHU Social Innovation Lab and IMET each having companies. Plus, colocation spaces City Garage and Spark Baltimore each have a pair of resident companies on the list.

So who’s on your realLIST?

Companies: Scene Health / Tissue Analytics / Yet Analytics / Protenus / Allovue
Series: RealLIST Startups / RealLIST

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