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TEDCO launches fund for underserved communities

tedco-latest-logoThe Maryland Technology Development Corporation hopes to spur entrepreneurship in traditionally underrepresented communities with a new Builder Fund to provide participating companies with money, networking and skills.

The Builder Fund will combine education and funding as it attempts to lift up entrepreneurs from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

“With the introduction of the Builder Fund, we can continue to advance the development of underserved communities by pushing them forward in strategic steps that lead to the next stage of investment,” Angela Singleton, the program’s co-manager, said in a statement. “This program embodies the overall mission of TEDCO, identifying only the best investment opportunities and strategizing how most effectively our companies can get ahead in their markets.”

Companies participating in the Builder Fund can receive up to $50,000 in funding while also participating in two intensive 12-week programs.

During the first education intensive, companies will meet once a week for programming, including one-on-one sessions, guest speakers and networking.

“These fast-paced, jam-packed days are meant to set an upbeat pace and tone for the program, to enable tracking of company developments and needs, to establish a culture of accountability, and to hustle and foster close familiarity across the cohort and broader entrepreneurial community,” a TEDCO program description said.

A second 12-week intensive will focus on strategy, business development, sales, finance, operations and marketing.

The Builder Fund organizers hope that through these programs it can provide not just money but all of the other resources traditionally underserved communities might not have access to.

Those resources include meetings with successful company leaders and fostering connections with companies that can encourage partnerships and ideas.

“This fund is taking businesses with a strong growth potential and using their connections to the investment community to identify the most exceptional opportunities out there,” Mac Conwell, a program co-manager, said in a statement. “The startup ecosystem is highly competitive, and the Builder Fund is focused on implementing and supporting the best path for each company — both financially and operationally.”

The announcement of the Builder Fund follows another TEDCO program unveiled earlier that is designed to encourage entrepreneurship outside of the urban university setting.

PaverGuide became the second company to receive a $25,000 pre-seed investment from TEDCO’s Rural Business Innovation Initiative. The company hopes to use the funding to develop a clean rainwater reservoir and expansive infiltration system.

The rural business initiative focuses on small and early-stage technology companies in rural Maryland. It provides resources and assistance for these companies.

“(Paver Guide) is a great testament to the ingenuity and problem-solving acumen that will have a major, lasting impact beyond our state lines,” Bill Bernard, a program mentor, said in a statement. “With a successful road since its inception, PaverGuide is posed to grab hold of significant share in the green infrastructure and water infiltration markets.”

Last month, Plum Dragon, which sells a line of herbal and natural topical analgesics for trauma injury and pain, received the first investment from the rural business initiative.

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