What have we lost as a result of COVID-19?
Individually, that answer varies. Everyone has lost their old routine. Many of us have lost our jobs, plans, and livelihoods. Most tragically, some of us may have lost a family member or friend due to the virus.
Collectively - we have lost our ability to belong to physical communities. Offices in general and co-working spaces specifically have shut down en mass, many without a return date in sight. Facebook just announced that their employees would continue to work remotely through July 2021. A full year from now, full of uncertainty.
There is something special about being able to live, work, and learn within the same physical space as others. That is why our team has decided to launch Emergence Baltimore - a community-focused, live-in business accelerator program - in the midst of a global pandemic.
What is Emergence Baltimore?
Emergence Baltimore is a three month live-in accelerator for founders who want to use this time of uncertainty to build their ventures and a tight-knit community. We provide each accepted founder a private furnished bedroom/bathroom, daily fitness and wellness activities, personalized business coaching, access to in-house digital content creators, and all the coffee/tea/snacks that they need in order to make immense progress on their startups over 90 days.
The term emergence carries special significance across art, science, philosophy, and systems theory. Emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own: these behaviors emerge only when the parts interact as a whole.
Emergence Baltimore represents our belief that a community of founders can make a greater impact than any founder alone. We will tap into our community's shared skill sets to help each other problem-solve as well as our collective networks to facilitate relevant collaborations. Through all aspects of our community, we are consciously striving to create an environment that is greater than the sum of its parts.
How are we taking COVID into account?
We do realize that there's a global pandemic going on out there. In order to make a communal living situation like this work, necessary and ongoing precautionary measures will be taken.
- First - every accepted applicant will be required to take a COVID test and provide a negative result before being able to move into the space. This includes all of our live-in mentors and program operators. Periodic COVID tests may be required throughout the duration of the program, at no cost to our founders.
- Next, we will restrict the space just to program participants. A critical piece of Emergence Baltimore will be connections to external mentors, coaches, and subject matter experts - however - we plan to facilitate those virtually in order to limit possible exposure.
- Finally, we place a strong emphasis on making smart decisions while participating in this program. While our founders are welcome to explore the surrounding community, all participants in Emergence are expected to strictly abide by all social distancing protocols if they leave Kindred Hall.
We are also continuously learning from other accelerators and communal living situations in order to implement the best practices. Safety of our community is paramount and that means doing what's necessary in order. Read more about our specific COVID precautions here.
What's included through Emergence Baltimore?
At its core, Emergence Baltimore is a stunning physical space. Located within Baltimore's historic St. Michael's Church Complex, founders will live inside of the recently-renovated Kindred Hall - St. Michael's former parish hall. Each founder will receive their own furnished bedroom along with a private bathroom. But that's just the beginning. Other perks of living at Kindred Hall include:
- Access to live-in entrepreneurial mentors
- Personal connections with external subject matter experts
- A customized OKR gameplan upon entry and weekly meetings to ensure you're on track
- A business-building curriculum tailored to the needs of the cohort
- Assistance with content-creation by our live-in filmmakers and photographers
- A workout regimen and group training from a certified personal fitness instructor
- Morning mindfulness and guided meditation
- Yoga instruction 3x a week
- Unlimited coffee, tea, and snacks
- One community-provided meal per day
All of these perks were designed with our founders' physical, mental, and emotional well-being in mind.
What do we look for in an applicant?
We are a founder-first program. This means we don't select for a certain industry (i.e. social impact or SaaS) or stage (i.e. ideation or growth). Instead, we personalize the accelerator curriculum after our cohort is chosen to ensure that all content is actually applicable to the ventures that are participating. But first and foremost, we focus on the human behind the startup. That's why so much of the programing is focused on helping founders reach high-performance productivity.
Perhaps they are an entrepreneurial university student taking a leave of absence rather than pay outrageous tuition for virtual courses. Maybe they are a founder living at home with their parents, looking for an environment that will enhance their productivity. Or perhaps they are a professional with a side hustle looking to make that leap full-time.
So who is the ideal applicant? In simple terms, it's anyone who wants to continue building their venture within a cohort of like-minded peers despite the COVID lockdown. They have to be open to coaching, want to live among other talented founders, and most importantly, want to learn how to perform at their best as an entrepreneur.
What's the cost?
The first time that I brought up this concept to my friends, many immediately conjured up the image of Erlich Bachman - the pompous owner of the Hacker Hostel tech incubator on the HBO hit show Silicon Valley. In that scenario, the TJ Miller-portrayed Bachman provides room and board for founders in exchange for 10% of their company. But don't worry - living at Emergence Baltimore won't require you to pay the pied piper later.
Unlike many other live-in accelerators, we take no equity from our founders. Instead, we charge a monthly rent ($1,250) and community fee ($500). Under this model, founders don't have to worry about forsaking their business' long-term profitability for the opportunity to live & work in our space. They are provided with a fully-immersive living & working environment meant to help them achieve high-performance and make massive progress on their businesses.
We understand that this price may be a barrier for some applicants, so we have limited scholarships available for those who can demonstrate financial need.
Ready to Apply?
Now into month number five of this global pandemic, one thing remains abundantly clear - COVID has fundamentally disrupted the way we live, work, and play together. Emergence Baltimore will not change that for the world, but for six founders, it could make a world of difference. If this kind of co-living accelerator program sounds beneficial to you, please make sure to fill out this application by August 18th at 11:59 PM. If you are applying for financial aid, please also submit your scholarship application no later than August 18th at 11:59pm.