You don’t often hear people talking about how lonely starting a business can be. My business is still at such a small scale, that it is mostly me, day in and day out, hustlin’. That copious amount of me time has got me thinking, what resources are out there for people, like myself, starting a business? Currently, my Little Debbie food truck is being worked on, so there is some lag time while I wait for it to be turn-key ready. This lag time has been filled with me searching for entrepreneur communities and resources to learn how this process of starting a business is going for others in Baltimore. Through some light social media “networking” (aka stalking) I came across the Startup Soiree.
“Startup Soiree is a monthly meetup focused on creating meaningful conversations among entrepreneurs and leaders within the local startup community.”
I grew up in D.C. and moved to Baltimore a year ago after trying on other cities for size. I was attracted to the city for its diversity and size and because, whether people liked it or not, the city was needing to talk about race. As someone who grew up in Baltimore’s twin city and chose to move to Baltimore when I moved back home, I was subject to a lot of scrutiny from locals and outsiders. Plenty of people questioned my decision to (excitedly) move into a city that has been labeled as failing for so long, assuming that my doe eyed affection of this underdog city was just founded in my naivety. To add to it, it baffled people further that I was choosing to move to Baltimore with the intention of starting a business. But as I’ve sat in my rookie status for over a year now, delving deeper and deeper into the entrepreneurial network, I am absolutely blown away by how many people are investing in Baltimore. And my vision of investment isn’t Under Armour moving into south Baltimore- it’s businesses like DoveCote Cafe in Reservoir hill, Black Sauce in Remington, Impact Hub on North Ave, and Keeper’s Vintage with Knit, Soy, and Metal in Mt. Vernon, to name a few. It’s small businesses investing in their community. All of these incredible businesses happen to be interviewed for Startup Soiree’s podcast, something I was excited to discover because it’s one of my favorite ways to absorb news and information.
Upon discovering the podcast, I chose to listen to episode 087 where Patrick interviews the CEO of Brioxy, B. Cole. It blew my mind as it brought together everything I have been looking for over the last few months. A space where entrepreneurs are talking about their experience specific to Baltimore. I’m going to just pull some quotes from the interview as highlights, but encourage you to listen to it yourself:
“Baltimore has the largest community of black innovators in the country, that are here already, I think so much of what happens in a city like this is that people just get so, so much of the conversation is about how do we attract in what we need that you forget that you actually have everything you need right here”
“All of the ingredients are here”
“This is a black city. White people are so uncomfortable to talk about race in this country, still, in this day in age, it is so uncomfortable, but ultimately what that means then is that white people in Baltimore are sitting here praying for more white people to come, so that they can be proud of their city, because they have been taught over their life that anything related to blackness is inferior and negative, and so black people have felt the brunt of that, right, and been isolated and have experienced a series of some of the most racist policies that were created in the entire country, originated in Baltimore… Ultimately we’ve created this really deep unbalance”
“Talking about how much of a sacrifice you make in terms of being a leader, being visible, being out there, it comes at a cost and I am grateful for the really incredible folks I’ve been able to touch and be part of their journey and their lives, and I feel humbled to be able to feel like I was like a small piece of that but it definitely some days is really really hard and you ask yourself what am I doing? Am I going in the right direction? Am I really having an impact? I feel really grateful”
“Baltimore is going to win”
People have built resources in Baltimore, people have started businesses in Baltimore, and while I’ve never thought I was an innovator in the sense that starting a business in Baltimore is new, I definitely know that I won’t be the last. And so, I am keeping track of all the folks that are doing such an amazing job of dissolving the isolation behind starting up a business for a community you love. Again, “all of the ingredients are here”.