Ideas that turn into companies often start after work hours. Over nine weeks, ETC’s Pioneer Baltimore program looked to provide space for entrepreneurs to develop those ideas. The program ran on Monday nights for nine weeks this fall.

“This program really helps identify members of our community who are just looking for an opportunity to try something, and I think by giving them a program like this and the opportunity to put this into their schedule and into their lives helps them make that decision whether this is just a cool idea or this could be a full-time job,” said ETC Assistant Director Jacqueline Albright.

Facilitated by recently-named University of Baltimore Director of Entrepreneurship Henry Mortimer, the program allowed the companies to create a “road map” for their businesses by introducing the COSTARTERS framework.

“The focus was on customer development. The underlying theme is really going back to identify who your customer is, talking with a customer and being able to really discern the experience to move in a direction that is feasible,” Albright said. “The COSTARTERS program really gives you the tools to being able to get up and do that.”

For those who start on their own, it also helps to meet others with similar dreams and challenges. The entrepreneurs also worked with mentors from the Baltimore startup community and benefitted from interacting with each other. Albright said it provides “excitement and clarity around the businesses they’re trying to grow.” They also had a chance for some friendly competition, as a chart tracked how many customers they contacted throughout the program.

At Monday’s pitch night to close out the program, the ideas that came out of the program were on display. Here’s a look:

  • AJ Golden is looking to create a network of sites that house charging stations for electric vehicles. It’s called ChargCycl.


Stephen Babcock

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