John’s Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative (2017). “The overall picture of Baltimore’s financing system leads to a view that it needs to grow and modernize to meet the needs of small companies in the city. The system is both fragmented and underdeveloped to provide the full continuum of capital for small business growth. It is also not a system that is easy to navigate.”
I completely agree with this. Small business owners often don’t understand the system, what investors are looking for, how to manage the investment if they get it and how to set realistic expectations. Baltimore’s funding ecosystem is very political. Very challenging.
I think a new publication needs to be created to address current and post-pandemic expectations. And, small businesses should have access to more education that helps with taxes, finance, investment management and intellectual property management.
Ken Malone, an active investor, responded after I posted this on LinkedIn.
“You’ll find this effort by Pava LaPere https://www.baltimore.ecomap.tech/ a step in the right direction. Troy LeMaile-Stovall working very hard on the problem and could use your help. You should also point small businesses to A. Jay Nwachu for the Innovation Works training. And I take dozens of emails and calls each week to help point people to their best resource fit – and am happy to take a few hundred more each week if they are out there. (PS – I’d be really really interested to learn that it is not very political and challenging in a different city).”
Some great feedback there and I would have to agree that most cities likely have similar politically driven funding ecosystems. A shame really. Not politically connected and you may not get the funding your company needs to survive.
Pava LePere also responded to the post with,
“Thank you Ken! Yep, something we think deeply about. Gathering all of the information about resources with hyper-specific tagging is one thing (that we do well!) but helping small businesses truly understand what is right for them requires decision trees, and more often than not, a human touch. I know Shawn Gunaratne is working on a guide for Baltimore businesses to navigate debt capital, and we at EcoMap are thinking on a way to scale that across more resources and types.”