This is Technically Baltimore’s weekly One Big Idea. We’d like to use this space to allow technologists, community organizers, activists and other thought leaders in Baltimore city propose one idea for making this city a better place to live and work.
For 12 weeks, McKeever Conwell and Given.to cofounders Sam Henry and Michael Washington have been in San Francisco with the NewME Accelerator for minority business owners, an experience that culminated in Demo Day on Nov. 1.
Conwell brings us this week’s One Big Idea: creating a multi-college entrepreneurship program among all the universities in the Baltimore area.
It seems something of a far-fetched idea for Conwell, a college dropout who abandoned finishing his degree at Morgan State University and instead started working for the federal government doing software development. But the point, Conwell says, is to entice more undergraduates toward entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. (Perhaps the launch of Venture for America in 2013 will have that effect?)
Baltimore is a wonderful city with a booming tech scene. We just held a Tech Night with over 400 attendees at a non-traditional tech venue in which the mayor of the city came out to show her support. With all this excitement, the next step, in my opinion, is how do we get the next generation of entrepreneurs involved?
The answer is an entrepreneurship program that would include all the colleges in Baltimore.
This program would have students from different schools working in teams to create businesses over the course of a semester or school year. The students would get credits for being part of the program, and the teams who did the best would be given a grant, or some type of funding, to continue to grow their business idea in Baltimore. Such a program would accomplish several goals at once:
- Exposing students from all over Baltimore to entrepreneurship and the idea that there are other options after college which they might have never considered.
- Growing the startup scene in Baltimore, as many of these teams will continue to grow their businesses even after college.
- Giving students real work experience that could not be gained doing anything else other than running their own business.
These experiences and the skills students’ would learn would go a long way in helping them to get jobs and become leaders of the future.
Focusing on students will be key to growing the startup community and allowing Baltimore to compete with the other tech hubs of the world.