Sitting around a table before class, Shane Yeager talked about one of his two startups.
“Short Clips is a technology service where brands and agencies can take their media files — videos, audio, photos — put them into our platform, and then within 24 hours, get a professionally cut 15-second to one-minute video,” he said.
Ope Thomas is working on Roadi.
“It’s a parking app that’s meant to aggregate driver behavior to provide predictive analytics to show you the best areas and streets to find parking,” he said.
They’re just two of the founders congregating around the University of Baltimore Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s incubator. The space, which opened in November and is located in the Merrick School of Business, now houses 19 businesses started by students and alumni. It took $135,000 to build out, and is named for Edward and Mildred Cohen Attman.
Along with an open floor plan surrounded by private offices and meeting areas, the space has an area for design and fabrication complete with 3D printer. An adjacent room with whiteboard walls is called The Hatchery.
“What we wanted to do was build an incubator that was transparent and had a lot of collaboration,” said John Zuknick, manager of the Center.
The incubator provides a gathering point for students who are starting businesses, and provides access to a network of volunteer mentors. It exists alongside programming at the university. Students can study entrepreneurship through a program known as “E-Fellows,” and can study business administration with a specialization in entrepreneurship. But starting a business isn’t limited by major.
“We’re trying to infuse entrepreneurship throughout the university,” Zuknick said.
It’s also a connecting point to the city’s tech community. UB partners with Startup Maryland, including a big tour stop that’s been held during Baltimore Innovation Week. ETC and Betamore are also key connecting points.
While we met a couple of tech founders on our visit, the businesses that emerge have a variety of approaches to innovation. That’ll be on display on Wednesday, May 3, at the Rise to the Challenge pitch competition, where Yeager will pitch Short Clips alongside founders presenting ventures from a kitchen cooperative to a company with outdoor activities like Bubble Ball. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Merrick School of Business.
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