Connecting Students and Startups: A Profile

Jenny O'GradyJenny O’Grady is UMBC’s new director of marketing. She previously served at director of alumni and development communications at UMBC.

UMBC alumnus Greg Cangialosi ’96, English, is a tech entrepreneur who seems so ahead of the curve that following him on Twitter feels like time travel. But that’s not what I find most striking about him. I’m inspired by the way Cangialosi defines “success” for himself and how he’s worked to build new connections throughout the UMBC community—connections with impact.

After graduating from UMBC in 1996, Cangialosi launched Baltimore-based email service provider Blue Sky Factory. In 2010, Baltimore SmartCEO magazine recognized the company as one of the 50 fastest-growing in Greater Baltimore. The company also made the INC 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in the United States for four consecutive years. Cangialosi sold Blue Sky Factory in 2011, moving on to co-found Betamore, an 8,000 sq. ft. urban campus for tech entrepreneurship focused on “education, community and incubation.”

Cangialosi found success in business, but he wasn’t just off and running, leaving the other runners in the dust. He calls himself “a big believer in giving back and helping to make the places and the institutions that support you better and better.”

While Cangialosi was growing his companies, he was also growing his relationship with UMBC, sharing his experiences with students and learning from their fresh perspectives as a lecturer at the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. Over the years, Cangialosi has spoken with students and alumni at relationship-building events and has served as a judge for our Idea Competition.

Greg C. w-students
Recently, Betamore hosted a “Startup Crawl” for more than 80 students from around Baltimore (including dozens from UMBC) as a way of “getting students exposed to the startup scene here in Baltimore, and at the same time exposing new emerging companies to the amazing talent pool here in Baltimore,” Cangialosi said. Twenty companies participated, all hiring for either full time positions or internships. Students mixed and mingled, getting a taste for employment options they might not otherwise have considered.

“Aside from networking and meeting a lot of the founders, a portion of the Startup Crawl also included a session in which each company presented,” said senior Andrew Mavronicolas, an information systems major. “From this, we not only learned about their companies, but some of the struggles they went through along the way.”

Last month, Cangialosi made a five-year commitment to UMBC totaling $100,000. His goal is to create a business innovation competition and endowment to support student entrepreneurship initiatives, including potential seed money for budding student startups. And he’s already thinking ahead to another Startup Crawl for the fall.

Now I’m no tech entrepreneur, but Cangialosi and I do have one thing in common: we’re both invigorated by our work at UMBC. He recently shared with me, “UMBC is moving forward, making things happen, and it’s great to be part of that momentum.”

For more details on Greg Cangialosi’s work, see the UMBC Giving Blog. Contact the author, Jenny O’Grady, at jogrady@umbc.edu or email David Hoffman to share the story of a UMBC community member who inspires you.

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