Category: Startups

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Victoria Roberts

Meet the Entrepreneur: Victoria Roberts


Victoria Roberts and The Growing Minds Initiative are a part of the Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab’s 2017–18 Cohort. Below, The Johns Hopkins University Kreiger School of Arts & Sciences senior talks about The Growing Minds Initiative, finding support and exploring Baltimore.

In 5 words, what does your company do?
Provide education to children in Tanzania.

What are your goals and how will you get there?
Our venture aims to provide sustainable access to education for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children by creating community farms for caretakers to work on, selling the produce to pay for school fees. We have built 2 poultry farms and currently have 13 caretakers and 56 children enrolled. We hope to expand our farms later this month, allowing us to sell more chickens and more eggs. This increase in profit will allow us to enroll more families, and we hope to be sustainable by the end of this year.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Attending Hopkins, I learned that Baltimore offers a wealth of opportunities for success- from the Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab (the mentors, the advisors, bootcamps, contacts, and resources) to work spaces such as Impact Hub, Baltimore has many resources for helping grow social impact ventures- even ventures overseas like mine!

What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?
Working in the same space as other like-minded people, having connections and resources to a huge social impact network, and many opportunities for growth.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one (positive) thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
I personally don’t have any experience in other tech hotbeds, but the network of support that is fostered here in Baltimore seems pretty hard to match. Co-work spaces, impact cohorts, mentors, and the other like-minded people working in the same city all contribute to an overwhelming amount of support, not only for the venture, but for you personally.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
Remember to take time for yourself! Life gets extremely busy when creating a startup and it’s important to take a step back and make sure you’re prioritizing your health and your wellbeing.

What book are you currently reading?
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee

What innovator do you look up to? Why?
Our director, Alex Riehm, and all of my cohort members in the Social Innovation Lab cohort- they have given me so much advice, support, guidance, and feedback throughout this process, and I don’t know where I would be personally or venture-wise without all of their help.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
Papi’s Tacos in Fells Point

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?
Explore restaurants and cafes, finding different study spots in different neighborhoods- it’s nice to take a break from the library!


Hopkins faculty and startups receive translational funding from TEDCO

Hopkins faculty and startups receive translational funding from TEDCO

This summer, two Hopkins faculty members and two Hopkins startups will receive funding from the Maryland Innovation Initiative (“MII”) to commercialize promising technologies.

MII is a partnership between the state of Maryland and five of the state’s academic research institutions to promote the commercialization of research and is operated by TEDCO. The program fosters the transition of technologies having significant commercial potential from participating universities, including The Johns Hopkins University, to the commercial sector by funding technology validation, market assessment and the creation of start-up companies in Maryland.

Funding decisions are made every two months, and teams can apply for projects in the Technology Assessment phase or the Company Formation phase.

In this cycle, Dr. Peter Searson, Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering, and Dr. Harry Larman, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, have received Technology Assessment awards of $115,000 each. Searson is developing a high-efficiency sensor for cystic fibrosis monitoring that can diagnose electrolyte imbalance in real time.

Larman’s technology will address a critical unmet need for multiplexed 3 molecular analysis of the tumor microenvironment, which they expect will translate into improved implementation of precision immuno-oncology.

Sonoval LLC and Renalert LLC will both receive Company Formation awards of $150,000 each. Sonoval is developing a breakthrough anti-cancer biologic drug therapy for the treatment of a variety of T cell lymphomas and major solid tumors.

Renalert is developing the Renalert System to provide early detection of the onset of acute kidney injury through novel analysis of a patient’s urine output, blood pressure and oxygenation status.

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