The UpShot: “This Is Going To Be The Next Great Startup Ecosystem”


Boulder Thesis Principle #1 “Entrepreneurs have to be the leaders of a startup ecosystem”. In our visits to different ecosystems over the past couple of months, we have learned how much entrepreneurs can really power the ecosystem. Founders by their very nature are visionaries who look beyond the conventional. This vision is integral to the growth and progress of our nascent yet mighty ecosystem.

Last week, the Novella Center for Entrepreneurship‘s Conscious Venture Lab showcased Cohort 11’s eight dynamic companies. Excitingly, two of these companies hail from Baltimore, underscoring the city’s burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit.

JJ Innovative Materials Inc.

Leading the charge in sustainable construction, JJ Innovative Materials Inc., a startup from Johns Hopkins University, developed a revolutionary plant-based drywall that addresses over 30% of global construction waste. Composed of 95% recycled materials and processed without heating or harmful chemicals, this innovative drywall reduces carbon emissions and energy consumption.

The Creative Representation Empire (TCRE)

TCRE is transforming childhood experiences through community-curated coloring books. These books aim to promote inclusivity and combat colorism. By partnering with national youth organizations like the Y and the Boys and Girls Club, TCRE fosters a more inclusive world for children, making a significant impact on young minds.

Other companies from Cohort 11 are also doing some amazing work in the fields of AI, Inclusivity and Sustainability:

  • NorthStar AI is dedicated to creating AI software solutions that enhance economic opportunities for underrepresented communities.
  • Edenic Energy is a Building Information Engine, targeting outdated commercial buildings in underserved communities.

Exited founders like Kelvin Liu are giving back to the startup community by sharing their experience and learnings with founders. Kelvin is one of many who are taking their understanding of the unique challenges, opportunities, and risks involved in building a business as a founder and sharing it with the founders and ecosystem leaders right here in Baltimore.

As Jeff Cherry stated in his address, Baltimore is on the cusp of becoming the next great startup ecosystem. With the success of local companies like JJ Innovative Materials and TCRE, coupled with the work and dedication of Charm City’s foremost exited founders, we will see Baltimore emerge as a center for innovation and activity in the coming years.  Baltimore is already a connected ecosystem with its unique blend of resources, support, and opportunities that attract and nurture innovative businesses. There is much more to come as we build this ecosystem together!

The city’s ecosystem leaders such as investors, mentors, entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) et al. also play a crucial role in this growth, providing invaluable support through time, effort, capital, and networks. The continued success of these startups will depend on the sustained commitment of these leaders. Baltimore’s future as a thriving startup ecosystem looks incredibly promising, and we eagerly anticipate the incredible innovations and growth that lie ahead.

We encourage everyone to support these visionary founders and their groundbreaking startups as they drive Baltimore toward a brighter, more innovative future.

What’s UP: Founders

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  • 🔬NSF S&E Report: Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. workers are in STEM, with 41% of them not holding an associate’s degree or higher!

The UpShot is Baltimore’s Equitech ecosystem news, curated for startups, founders, funders and friends, all working together to build the country’s first Equitech City. ↗️↗️↗️

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