Developers to Designers: Entrepreneurs Start and Scale in DC
Technology innovators, social entrepreneurs, makers, creatives, and many more, are taking off in one of the best cities for startups, Washington, DC With 80-plus shared co-working spaces and access to a large network in venture capital funding, the District of Columbia is the place with the greatest entrepreneurial growth in the U.S.
Investors like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who acquired the Washington Post, have all eyes on DC’s innovators, pumping more than $2.3 billion into the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in 2018. Food and beverage, digital, artificial intelligence, education and biotech are among the types of ventures getting traction and funding in the city. “Inclusion” is the at the center of attention in DC’s startup scene, and the city is known as one of the top locations for underrepresented and minority founders, including women entrepreneurs and black entrepreneurs, who are supported by resources like the Inclusive Innovation Incubator.
Startups, especially technology focused, have unprecedented access to federally funded research and development (R&D) and higher education institutions. The District Government provided $1.5mm for fund administration of The Marathon Fund, formerly DC Inclusive Innovation Fund, a seed-stage equity fund primarily investing in innovative businesses that have been historically underrepresented in raising capital within the private ecosystem.
At George Washington University, Accelerate DC has established pathways for nearly 50 early-stage tech startups, offering mentorship, entrepreneurial training courses and financial support.
Creatives have their own startup canvas in DC. Grants and financial incentives assist entrepreneurs tuned into the arts and humanities, while Made in DC promotes and support the intellectual and creative genius of DC’s local maker community.
Bakeries to blockchain, entrepreneurs from across industries get a head start in Washington, D.C.
D.C.’s Collaborative Startup Community
Incubators and accelerators provide D.C. startups with guidance to advance their businesses and help startups become investment-ready. Among them are 80-plus coworking spaces, more than 12 accelerators, seven artisan and maker spaces, and five food incubators.
DCode: Tech companies seeking to enter the federal government market look no further than DCode, which provides connection to potential partners and customers, mentorship, hands-on strategic planning and one-on-one sessions with government experts.
DC Startup Week: DC Startup Week (DCSW) is the fastest-growing startup community in the DMV region with over 6,000 entrepreneurs. Once a year, we bring together our expansive community over 5-days to connect, collaborate, share resources and celebrate our thriving ecosystem. Throughout the year, we strengthen our united community by curating inclusive, thought-provoking, and meaningful events and partnerships.
Halcyon Incubator: The Halcyon Incubator’s three-phase fellowship offers benefits to social entrepreneurs that include five months of rent-free housing, 12 months of rent-free workspace, business mentoring, leadership coaching and a stipend during the residency phase.
Inclusive Innovation Incubator: In3 is D.C.’s first community space focused on inclusion, innovation and incubation. It’s a collaborative environment where under-resourced members have access to the space and services needed to build or grow a successful business.
The HIVE 2.0: The only small business incubator located east of the Anacostia River, The HIVE 2.0 provides coworking space and support for small business, nonprofits and creative professionals from all industries.
SEED SPOT: Social entrepreneurs launching at the SEED SPOT are zeroed in on products, services or technology that improves lives or makes the world a better place. SEED SPOT provides access to resources, mentors, business fundamentals, community partners and capital resources.
Village Capital: Using the power of peer support, Village Capital recruits entrepreneurs solving specific problems in agriculture, energy, education, financial inclusion and health. Participants are awarded seed funding to the two ventures ranked highest by their peers at the end of every program.
Tools from D.C.’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem:
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Director, Tech Sector Attraction & Retention