Having been a part of starting and growing local startups for the better part of a decade, few people have as good a feel for the Baltimore startup scene as Ron Schmelzer. From a baseball cap apparel company to a IT marketing intelligence firm, Schmelzer’s business ideas have changed, but his companies’ location hasn’t.
Now onto his seventh year in the area, Schmelzer has founded his third Baltimore-based startup, Bizelo, a full-service, online, small-business solutions startup. In his own words,
“Bizelo provides Small Business with online, self-service, subscription-based apps that have just the features you need without the hassle or the cost of more complex systems.”
Similar to Stitch Labs, winners of “Best in Show” at the Tech Cocktail SXSW #StartupLife Celebration, Bizelo offers solutions specific to inventory and supply chain management, returns, and accounting.
Starting up in Baltimore
One the companies featured at the Baltimore Tech Cocktail Mixer, Bizelo represented a strong class of local tech startups. To learn more about the Baltimore startup ecosystem, I asked Schmelzer to share his insights on the area’s biggest advantages and disadvantages, as well as any advice for other entrepreneurs starting up in the region.
“First, the city’s relatively small size and smaller economy compared to others in its region is both a plus and a minus. It’s much easier here to get visibility in front of the local market, media, and customers. The region has significant strength in education, health, government (especially around security), and hospitality. There are some major universities and schools here pumping out not only great talent but also investment and connections, so that’s a plus. But, the city often plays second (or third) fiddle to other cities as far as attracting software technical talent, venture capital and angel investment, acquisitions, and national press attention.
“Despite this, the best way to be a Baltimore-based company is to participate in the whole ‘Lower Acela’ corridor region. We often participate in DC, Philly, and New York networking and investment events. We position ourselves as a regional player rather than as a Baltimore-only startup. I think this region (Mid-Atlantic to NY) has significant strength and that Baltimore companies are well served to be an active participant across the whole region.”
Want to learn more? Watch Bizelo’s “about” video.