BALTIMORE — SmartLogic, a Baltimore-based custom software development consultancy, announced on June 11 the launch of SmartVentures, a new program designed to provide an alternative path to scale for startups. The SmartVentures program will provide selected companies with $400,000 of product development and mentorship to help them take their product to scale.
The catch? The startup must be located in or relocate to Baltimore City.
With recent recognition as the “coolest city on the east coast” and “the best city for recent graduates,” Baltimore is poised to grow its innovation economy. While initiatives such as Rise of the Rest bring capital to smaller markets, the new SmartVentures program leverages SmartLogic’s time and expertise, bringing a different approach to venture investing.
Over 14 years, SmartLogic President Yair Flicker has seen startups come and go — and has seen the impact that a combination of solid tech leadership and what he calls “good engineering hygiene” can have. “We see this as a way to codify the processes that we use to make it easier for companies to develop great software, and make them replicable,” Flicker said. SmartLogic has built over 150 custom applications for enterprises and startups alike, including OrderUp (acquired by Groupon), GiveCorps (acquired by Network for Good), and RedOwl Analytics (acquired by Raytheon).
Program Director Margaret Roth, co-founder of local startup Yet Analytics and ETC board member, believes that SmartVentures offers the right mix of resources for growing startups. “Finding the right expertise, mentors, and hires to build the product the right way, the first time, with the least amount of technical debt, is a failure-point most founders don’t know they’ve hit until long after they’ve poured thousands of hours into developing something that won’t ever take them to scale. With SmartVentures, we’ll help companies bypass this and still learn all the lessons they need to take with them.”
The SmartVentures program is targeting startups for whom product development and engineering is the most significant bottleneck to immediate growth; companies should be past initial market validation and prototyping and should be ready to grow beyond an MVP. Envisioned as a 6-18 month intensive partnership with the selected company, Flicker is looking forward to seeing where SmartVentures can take startups over time: “We want to accelerate companies in a way that helps them reach their next milestones and raise the investment they need to succeed.”