The Lineup of Participating Thought Leaders Announced
COLUMBIA, Md. (July 24, 2019) – The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), Maryland’s economic engine for technology companies, announced the lineup of thought leaders participating in its new Task Force for Women Entrepreneurs. The task force is dedicated to the recruitment, funding, and operational support of women-owned and-led startups in Maryland.
The TEDCO Board of Directors Executive Committee commissioned the task force in conjunction with the TEDCO management team. Myra Norton, Chair of the TEDCO Board of Directors and President and COO of Arena, will lead the task force while Jennifer Hammaker, TEDCO’s Vice President of Business Development, will serve as chief liaison with TEDCO. The group seeks to assess the challenges that women entrepreneurs in Maryland face when accessing capital and implement strategies to overcome those challenges.
“I am honored to be a part of this important innovation ecosystem initiative,” said Norton. “One of the main reasons I joined TEDCO’s Board of Directors was to help build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. To achieve that aim, we must ensure that women entrepreneurs and women-owned startups in Maryland have equal opportunity to obtain funding and support. This task force is another great step in that direction.”
Studies show an industry-wide problem with women-owned companies receiving support from venture capital firms. One study showed that, in 2018, just 10% of all global venture dollars went towards solely women-owned startups. While this is an increase from previous years, it is still significantly less than the 83% of all global venture dollars that went towards men-owned startups that year. Similarly, the percent of global seed dollars in 2018 that went towards women-owned startups was just 6% compared to the 80% received by men-owned startups.
“This task force is something that we at TEDCO have been looking to implement for some time,” said Jennifer Hammaker, TEDCO’s Vice President of Business Development. “We have had great success with TEDCO’s Builder Fund, which financially and operationally supports Maryland startups run by entrepreneurs who self-identify as socially or economically disadvantaged, and we are excited to apply the lessons learned there to this task force.”
“We also expect that through this initiative we will be able to better assess TEDCO’s internal service delivery operations to ensure the dedicated team is responsive at all levels,” said Tina Williams-Koroma, Vice Chair of TEDCO’s Board of Directors and President and CEO of TCecure.
The task force includes the following members:
- Tina Williams-Koroma, TCecure
- Lisa Smith, Bowie Business Innovation Center
- Kyp Sirinakis. Epidarex Capital
- Ben Sigel, Mintz Levin
- Ava Pipitone, HostHome.community
- Myra Norton, Arena
- Laura Neuman, Entrepreneur
- Amy Millman, Springboard Enterprises
- Julie Lenzer, University of Maryland, College Park
- Johnetta Hardy, Bowie State University – Entrepreneurship Academy
- Jennifer Hammaker, TEDCO
- Margot Connor, RoosterBio, Inc.
- Jeff Cherry, Conscious Venture Lab
The task force seeks to identify and implement concrete actions that drive outcomes for women entrepreneurs in the state over the next year.
In 2016, TEDCO commissioned a study into the demographics of those startups applying for funding and support from TEDCO to try to identify underserved entrepreneurs. As a result of that study, TEDCO launched the Minority Business Pre-Seed Fund, which eventually became the Builder Fund. The fund received funding for the first time of $1 million in Governor Hogan’s 2020 budget to expand funding for startups run by entrepreneurs who self-identify as socially or economically disadvantaged.