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Baltimore's ed-tech boom may just be getting started

01/24/2014

Baltimore is going to become a larger hub for education technology companies as students turn more to online courses and school systems look to mine reams of data to better measure student outcomes.

“It’s a massive space that’s going through a lot of disruption now, which is why we like it,” said Robb Doub, a general partner at New Markets Venture Partners, a Howard County venture capital firm. He spoke in Baltimore on Friday at a conference organized by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association.

Doub knows the burgeoning sector well. New Markets has invested in a host of Baltimore area ed-tech companies, including StraighterLine, which offers online college courses; and Moodlerooms, an education software company that started at the Emerging Technology Center at Johns Hopkins Eastern. The company was scooped up in 2012 by Blackboard.

The ed tech sector in Baltimore is going to keep growing because established firms like Laureate and Sylvan will spawn smaller startups, Doub said. Serial entrepreneurs who launch a company and grow it to the point where it gets bought out will come back for Round Two or more to start new companies.

“Like any industry, if you have some big winners, like Sylvan and Blackboard, that will create a lot of spinoffs,” he said. “Success breads success.”

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