Baltimore software firm Fearless is growing the in-house business incubator it softly launched last year, and looking to boost a new group of local startups.
Fearless started up a business incubator in January 2019, through which it advised and trained 10 entrepreneurs looking to get their own tech-based businesses off the ground. After a successful first cohort, Fearless is now expanding the program and offering up slots in the incubator to new set of participants for 2020.
The 12-month program will be open to 10 new cohort members. Fearless will offer the cohort companies individualized mentorship, peer support and monthly day-long trainings covering business building topics like branding, customer acquisition and putting together a financial plan. Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the next cohort have until Nov. 22 to apply.
"What happens during the first year of a new business is critical to whether or not it will be a success, or even exist, in five years," the company wrote in a statement. "One of the biggest problems new business owners face is just figuring out where to start."
The incubator also now has an official name — Hutch. The name of the incubator is a nod to the hutches used by dairy farmers to house newborn calves individually, so they can be given hands-on care during the first stage of their life.
"With Hutch, Fearless will be able to give that same level of individualized support to young Baltimore businesses," the company said. "We think of this program kind of like a home-base for our entrepreneurs, providing them with a foundation of support so they can grow without getting lost amongst bigger companies in the industry."
The incubator experience is familiar to Fearless. The 10-year-old tech company, which specializes in developing software platforms for nonprofit organizations and public agencies, was launched out of an incubator at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and moved to Baltimore in 2015. The company has grown quickly over the last few years, and recently expanded its office space inside the Cordish Co.'s Spark Baltimore coworking operation at Power Plant Live.
Fearless has said it is grateful for the support and guidance it received from other companies and mentors over the years, especially through the bwtech incubator program at UMBC. Now, Fearless is looking to support other tech startups in the same way, and "pay this guidance forward."
Delali Dzirasa, CEO of Fearless, said the first year cohort experience was "amazing." He noted how exciting it was to see some of the cohort companies go from not even having a name to earning revenue within their first year.
Part of the goal behind the program is to help grow startups in Baltimore that can bring more tech jobs to the city, Dzirasa has said. In that vein, one of the Hutch's first cohort members was Aaron Brooks, a DevOps engineer and Fearless employee who was looking to grow his venture called Mastermind Academy. With the support of the incubator, Brooks launched his free bootcamp program, aimed at helping to teach people the skills they need to land tech jobs.
Fearless ensured all applicant startups in that cohort, including those from outside the city, demonstrated a commitment to building strong opportunities in Baltimore.