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New Accelerator Seeks to Attract Connected Health and Fitness Startups from Across the Country to Baltimore

The 16-week M-1 Ventures program to provide dedicated startup support that facilitates the development of innovative health care solutions


Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, Plank Industries, the University of Maryland (through UM Ventures), Brown Advisory and the Abell Foundation announced that they are providing support for M-1 Ventures, a new Baltimore-based startup accelerator focused on connected health and fitness technologies. The 16-week program will be housed in FastForward East, an innovation hub on the Johns Hopkins medical campus, and will challenge startups selected from a national applicant pool to validate their business models, engage with customers and build on traction they have already generated. Additional support for the program comes from the Maryland Department of Commerce and Village Capital.

“By focusing this accelerator on connected health and fitness, M-1 Ventures takes advantage of our regional strengths to provide startups in this business vertical with a clearer path to success,” says Christy Wyskiel, a senior adviser to the president of The Johns Hopkins University and leader of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. “M-1 participants will receive specialized support and resources from top industry researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators that will help them develop health and fitness solutions that will drive real impact.”

The program will run under the direction of Paul Singh, an entrepreneur, angel investor and co-founder of the investment firm 500 Startups, and former Wells Fargo, UBS and Bank of America executive Tony D’Agostino, a serial entrepreneur currently working with ZyGood, a medical device startup developing an external neuromodulation device to treat chronic pain. Experts from The Johns Hopkins University, Plank Industries, the University of Maryland, Brown Advisory and several other dedicated, experienced mentors will provide guidance to the M-1 entrepreneurs.

The M-1 Ventures program will launch with its first cohort September 5 and run for 16 weeks, which includes a Demo Day in Mid-December that will provide investors and potential partners and collaborators an opportunity to get to know M-1’s first cohort. The application period is currently open and will close on August 4. Startups selected to the M-1 Ventures program receive:

  • $25,000 in equity funding
  • 1-on-1 mentorship from investor/entrepreneurs Paul Singh and Tony D’Agostino
  • Co-working space in FastForward East, an innovation hub on the Johns Hopkins medical campus
  • Access to and mentorship from connected health and fitness experts at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland as well as an array of other speakers
  • Pro bono legal/accounting services and additional business resources
  • Access to the industry’s and region’s top investors at a Demo Day
  • The opportunity to win one of two additional $25,000 investments

“Brown Advisory has always been proud to support Johns Hopkins’ efforts to strengthen Baltimore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and now we are excited to work alongside several of our city’s leading institutions to accelerate further economic growth,” says Brown Advisory CEO Mike Hankin. “We hope that our colleagues and network will be useful to the M-1 Ventures participants and that, together, we can help to deepen investor engagement across Baltimore, where talent and innovation are on the rise.”

In addition to actively recruiting a diverse pool of connected health and fitness entrepreneurs, M-1 Ventures will deploy Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Village Capital’s unique peer-review model for investment. In this model, participating entrepreneurs will rate their peers on a variety of metrics throughout the program, transforming the traditional investment paradigm of “who you know” to “what you know.” The two highest rated teams at the end of the program will receive additional investment commitments.

“We are excited to provide access to our expert researchers and practitioners to ensure that truly innovative ideas have a chance of succeeding,” says Jim Hughes, co-director, UM Ventures and VP, University of Maryland, Baltimore. “Given our collaboration around the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance at the University of Maryland, College Park, which was seeded with a $25 million gift from Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, the timing couldn’t be better. We look forward to collaborating with our partners in Baltimore to make this a destination for all connected health and fitness companies.”

For more information about M-1, visit their website.

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