Where to Work: FastForward, SmartLogic Studies, Episode 6

Looking for the right location and support system to launch your startup? SmartLogic Studies is highlighting some of the places that set startups and entrepreneurs up for success.

This episode — Where to Work: FastForward — focuses on the incubator/co-working space at Johns Hopkins University and two of the companies that call the incubator home.

Featured in Where to Work: FastForward

The next episode of the Where to Work series will feature:

  • Spark at Power Plant Live

We’ve already visited the Emerging Technology Centers, Betamore, and bwtech@UMBC.

Check out every episode of SmartLogic Studies.

What is SmartLogic?

SmartLogic is a custom web/mobile development company based in Baltimore. We are committed to helping the Baltimore tech community thrive and grow. Many of our clients are startups who face an array of questions when launching their business. We want to be both a technical resource and a reserve of knowledge on everything a startup founder might want to know.

Still have questions? Maybe we can help. Try our Lunch and Learn program.

FastForward, a catalyst for the advancement and commercialization of innovation.

When Scott Winn founded his company, Rakkoon, he checked out several office spaces in Baltimore before settling at FastForward.

“We were one of the first folks to come in,” he said. “We actually elbowed our way into the door while the workmen were still painting.”

Morad Elmi, co-founder of emocha, interviewed for SmartLogic Studies
 Morad Elmi,the co-founder of emocha, a mobile health platform, found FastFoward after spending time in the classroom at Johns Hopkins University.

“I went to Johns Hopkins and I got a MBA, which turned into a healthcare MBA,” Elmi said. “The more I was exposed to it(healthcare), the more interested I got. I was always interested in entrepreneurship as well.

Elizabeth Smyth, the director of ventures at FastForward, says people come to the space in different ways.

“We love the idea of having this anchor institution here, and having an innovation district to rise up around this institution,” Smyth said. “It’s such a great place here in Baltimore.”

The proximity to a world-class university and hospital means many of the companies at FastForward have a medical focus.

“That focus exposes us to a lot of other companies and partners we could bounce ideas off of,” Elmi said.

But medicine isn’t mandatory for companies. Wynn says Rakkoon is an anomaly because they are pure technology instead of medical technology. Smyth welcomes the different companies.

“We’re not just for biotech companies in Baltimore, we’re here for all companies,” she said.

Elizabeth Smyth and Scott Winn interviewed for SmartLogic Studies: FastFoward
She adds that there is no average company at FastForward, but they do want focus on helping those early-stage companies who need a little more support. Once a company has gotten its Series-A financing then, it doesn’t need a shared bench in a lab or a subsidized office space.

And FastForward offers something no other co-working space in Baltimore has. “We’re the only opportunity if you want shared lab space, where you rent by the bench,” Smyth said. “You can rent by the bench instead of renting a whole lab.”

Smyth says FastFoward really wants to help those early-stage companies who have financial needs.

“The leaders at FastForward have been great at making introductions and helping us along the way,” Elmi said.

If a company becomes part of FastForward, Smyth says, it gets access to the staff who can make connections to Hopkins as a partner or possible customer.

Elmi is working with doctors at Hopkins. “When we say we’re working with world-class physicians, they really are world-class,” he said. “These are renowned researchers who are working closely with the World Health Organization, CDC and NIH.”

A Hopkins doctor is serving as an advisor to Rakkoon.

As the companies who work at FastForward grow, so the does organization itself. FastFoward will be opening a third hub in the fall of 2016. Meaning there will be more space and more mentorship.

“We will continue to grow out STAT network, which is a broader network of science and technology advisors, former regulators, venture capitalists, and others,” Smyth said.

“Being able to tap into all of the different resources at Hopkins and FastFoward is really helpful for us,” Winn said.

Smyth hopes all companies feel the same about their FastFoward experience.

“We hope that FastFoward, along with the other incubators in town, will really make an imprint on growing the economy in Baltimore,” she said.

Follow SmartLogic on Twitter for upcoming SmartLogic Studies episodes.

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