New York City nonprofit Venture for America
, which provides entrepreneurship training for recent college graduates, is adding Baltimore to its roster of cities this year.
Venture was founded in 2011 to encourage entrepreneurship through practical experience. It officially launched last year in five cities: Detroit, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Providence, Rhode Island. This year, Baltimore and Cleveland are on board.
In Baltimore, the following companies could get access to talent through Venture: Baltimore Astrum Solar, Parking Panda, Pixelligent, Reify Health, Riskive, SocialToaster and Vigilant Medical.
The fellows, or recent graduates, are recruited from universities nationally, including the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University and, for 2013, University of Maryland Baltimore County and Loyola University of Maryland.
“We send out fellows to cities across the country that have high quality startups and, perhaps, less access to talent than major metropolitan areas,” says Mike Tarullo, vice president of corporate development. “We look for places graduates might not think of going but have great opportunities.”
Most recruits are just getting their undergraduate degree in a variety of majors while others may have already spent a year or two in the workforce.
Tarullo calls the selection process “competitive,” with a written application, grade transcripts and interviews on the telephone and in person with board members in New York City. About 10 to 15 percent of applicants are admitted to the program.
“We are looking for a high potential for entrepreneurship,” says Tarullo of the fellows, who commit to spending two years in their assigned company and at a fixed salary of $38,000 per year that the company pays.
Last year, Venture placed 40 fellows in the five original cities. This year, it is placing 70 fellows in the seven cities. The number going to each city depends on how many companies participate in the program and the “match” between fellows’ interests and startups’ field.
“We are hoping 10 fellows come to Baltimore but it depends on the number of startups that are hiring. We don’t have a limit on the number of fellows at each startup but typically it’s one, maybe two,” Tarullo says.
Tarullo says each city to which Venture sends fellows has a different focus. Baltimore is strong on cybersecurity, biotechnology and education technology, he says. “We’re excited to be coming to Baltimore.”
Tarullo credits the Abell Foundation, which gave more than $100,000, for bringing Venture for America to Baltimore. The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO); Betamore, the work space for startups in Federal Hill; and the incubator Emerging Technology Center in Canton are helping Venture connect with the startup community.
Source: Mike Tarullo, Venture for America
Writer: Barbara Pash