Betamore, an Education and Coworking Space, to Fill a “Void” in Baltimore
May 2, 2012
The details on Betamore, a new space in Baltimore, have been pretty sparse so far.
But cofounder Greg Cangialosi shared a bit with Tech Cocktail this week. Yes, there will be coworking space and mentorship, emphasizing product-based startups (vs. services). No, they won’t be investing in companies. And perhaps most interestingly, in true Baltimore spirit, Betamore will focus on education – with classes in programming, pitching, finance, law, design, and development.
Located in Federal Hill, the 8,000-square-foot campus features 2 large classrooms, office space, and conference rooms. Cangialosi, managing director of the Baltimore Angels, is joined by Betamore cofounders Mike Brenner and Sean Lane.
Hear why they started Betamore below, along with Cangialosi’s take on the Baltimore startup scene and the challenges ahead.
Tech Cocktail: Why did you decide to start Betamore?
Greg Cangialosi: What we’re trying to do is [fill] what we feel is still a pretty big void in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Baltimore and create a facility that exposes people to entrepreneurship, educates them on a variety of topics that are entrepreneurially minded, and gives them not only that, but also a place to work out of, connect with other peers, other cofounders, other partners – and then finally give them a place to have dedicated workspace when they get companies up and running.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the state of the Baltimore tech scene and how does Betamore fit in?
Cangialosi: I see the status of the Baltimore innovation and technology scene at a really interesting turning point in terms of a lot of the confluence that’s coming together in Baltimore. Universities are activating – they’re starting to come out of their shell, engaging with the broader community – and we’re building bridges with the universities as well. We have a funding community that’s really starting to gel very nicely. We’ve got the Betamores of the world – we’ve got new accelerators in the ETC called Accelerate Baltimore, we’ve got another one in Loyola, another one’s popping up in Johns Hopkins. So we’ve really started to build an early-stage innovation community and programming around facilities, and all these things have pretty strong mentor networks that are behind them.
We’re definitely not firing on all cylinders yet. I really started paying attention to things in 1997, and I’ve been an entrepreneur since I graduated, and I could say probably now Baltimore is at its ripest point for a lot of change and growth in its entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Tech Cocktail: What are some of the challenges for the ecosystem that you’d like to address with Betamore?
Cangialosi: One of the biggest challenges that we have, not really any kind of mystery, is the fact that we have a major talent void here. … We need to do our part in building programs to keep our talent here. We attract a lot of bright people from all over the world to come to Baltimore to get educated. We have more colleges and universities per square mile than anywhere else in the US – little-known fact – and some really top schools. So how do we get those people to stay here so they get attached to the startup culture or the startup culture actually breeds at the university level?
So it’s not only the attraction but it’s also the retention of talent. So we have to start telling our stories as a region a little bit better. … It really affects the overall health of the ecosystem. Branding our region as one that’s known for maybe some key things – for example, education technology. We are ripe for being a hub for startup activity in ed tech, just given not only the colleges and universities, but the experience between Laureate and Sylvan and the Connections Academy and the Noodle Rooms.
So those are the types of things that we are going to try to help businesses work through as they spend time in our facility – and just beyond the facility, I think that’s what we’re working towards in general.