Unexpected Startup Hub Emerges
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 02:09
Although D.C. was once dominated by politics, a new sector has taken hold: startups.
Yes, it’s true. There are startups in Washington. Lots of them. But before they came to D.C., start-ups evolved on the other coast.
Silicon Valley was once widely known as the best place — the only place, in fact — to build a startup. For decades, young people with entrepreneurial aspirations headed west to pursue their pots of startup gold. Lots of entrepreneurs got rich by building companies in the valley.
But over time, the world began to change. While the Internet came of age and more than 35 percent of the world’s population got online, mobile technology began to dominate with nearly three-quarters of the world with access to mobile phones. Entrepreneurs started building apps in droves — each day they added nearly 600 new apps to the Apple App Store. And social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter blanketed the globe.
Millennials were the first generation to grow up in a truly global world and the first to come of age in the digital era. They started seeing our world’s global challenges in real time through social media channels and they started thinking about how they could make a difference. All of a sudden career choices became less about money or status and more about purpose and impact. A generation of world leaders was born — one comfortable in a hyper-connected, high-tech, fast-changing world, and many landed in the heart of the most powerful city on earth: Washington, D.C.
While they may have come to Washington with hopes of working in the White House, Capitol Hill or the World Bank, they quickly realized that one of the most impactful ways to change the world could be through creating a startup. And the D.C. startup ecosystem was born.
Today, thousands of startups call the Washington, D.C. region home. Many of them are tackling our world’s biggest challenges, like improving education for our children, ensuring better access to healthcare, encouraging energy savings and reinventing the way we view transportation.
D.C. was recently ranked one of the five best cities for starting a tech company. We rank in the top 10 markets for venture capital investment. And because our region is now home to the four wealthiest counties in the country, we expect to see far more capital becoming available in the near future. The D.C. Tech Meetup draws over a 1,000 people each month — more attendees than San Francisco or New York counterparts.
The hub, 1776, has become the central convening spot for these startups, drawing hundreds of world-changing companies while attracting investors, policymakers and global leaders who want to help these companies succeed. 1776 provides entrepreneurs the environment, education, mentorship and connections they need, bringing much-needed visibility to the entrepreneurs that are working to change the world in big and small ways.
If you have not read about or visited 1776, I encourage you to do so. Never before has there been such an easy way for the “entrepreneurial curious” to dip a toe in and see what the water is like. The 1776 community is here to support you and their startups desperately need young, smart, talented people like you. Come for a visit — your next job just might be waiting for you.
Donna Harris is managing director of startup regions at Startup America.