Building a startup can feel like a narrow prism.

Early-stage companies are often looking to solve very specific problems and create new business models with technology that’s tailored to these aims. This process is all-encompassing, and it can feel like the outside world is tuned out.

Not in 2020.

Most business leaders started the year with one plan, and it had to change three months later when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived with a public health and economic crisis all in one. Not to mention, offices were largely closed. A couple months later, protests that followed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery reawakened the Black Lives Matter movement, which demanded to be addressed at work.

All this is to say, the world has changed since we put together our 2020 RealLIST Startups, the annual list of promising early-stage companies. So this six-month check-in had to account for those wider forces. We asked founders about their product and team status, but we also asked about how the pandemic affected their business and how they’re responding to the push for racial equity. It means you’ll find pivots and personal stories below; that’s where we are. Look at is as a snapshot of the city’s up-and-coming companies in a changing world.

See the list at

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.