How TEDCO, Brown Advisory and other organizations support Maryland’s underrepresented founders
Pitch Creator founder Jason Tagler spent months in Baltimore watching entrepreneurs struggle during pitch events. The prospective companies weren’t the problem — the issue was the delivery of the pitches. The entrepreneurs couldn’t effectively communicate their vision. That’s why Tagler started the Pitch Creator company in 2014. The social impact organization offers online courses that teach entrepreneurs how to communicate with investors and raise growth capital. “I said to myself, ‘If I could teach a class and just help one entrepreneur break through, that would help them raise capital,’” he said. “With that growth capital, they’d be able to hire and create high-quality jobs.” The longtime investor at Baltimore private equity firm Camden Partners is not just helping founders for a few minutes of their pitch. The coursework shapes how they make connections to investors, providing insight into the nuances of pitching.
While strong communication is a must-have skill for entrepreneurs, this gets at how a pitch is just one component of a much larger issue. Early-stage investors play an essential role in how startup companies are built and grown. But the glaring lack of entrepreneurs of color getting support early on has created a massive gap. In 2020, U.S. companies raised a record nearly $150 billion of venture capital. But of that amount, just $1 billion — less than 1% — went to Black founders, according to Crunchbase. That statistic encapsulates the myriad of issues that have long complicated entrepreneurship for minorities, from not knowing how to make an effective pitch, to being economically disadvantaged and struggling to get on investors’ radars, to having a hard time expanding one’s network as well.
Maryland offers a broad ecosystem for entrepreneurs looking to turn their idea into a business, but these issues won’t change without intentional efforts from leaders across various industries to improve upon the resources and systems we have in place. Through speaking with several leaders in Maryland, it’s clear that there is a shift taking place. Funders and executives alike are making concerted efforts to make Maryland a more inclusive and accessible ecosystem.