There are few areas more energized and engaging with entrepreneurs than DMV. Short for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, DMV is quickly becoming the haven if you’re looking to form your own company or find bright minds to partner with. The proximity to large cities and an ever-evolving entrepreneurial spirit makes the area a perfect place to be if you’re in the business of starting a business. We wanted to hear from some of those business owners on why they believe the DMV area is such a good place for being an entrepreneur.
1) Outside Investors
I believe the Baltimore/Washington region is about to attract significant attention from outside investors. Venture capitalists are tiring of the high sticker price valuations coming out of New York and Silicon Valley startups, and they are craving companies that serve distinct niches. Maryland and Virginia entrepreneurs have significant expertise in areas like ed-tech, medical research, and government relationships. Our entrepreneurs dive deeper and offer meatier products and services than the standard app of the month. The DMV CEO is bootstrapping and keeping their costs so low and that’s incredibly attractive to investors. If there is anything I would encourage our founders to do more of, it’s dream bigger and scale faster.
Thanks to Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, See Jane Invest!
2) Access to Capital
Though for the time we’ve moved our company to Austin for the TechStars program and to expand our operations, Washington DC remains the catalyst that allowed our business to reach the point it’s at today. We founders all met at Virginia Tech, where we had a variety of amazing resources to help us start the business. We tested our product in Arlington because we grew up around there, and we realized the need for disruption. Nobody I knew liked dealing with seedy lawn care companies, so we created a technological solution to fix the kinks in billing, customer service, and scheduling. It turned out, Arlington was the perfect test market because of the variety of different consumer profiles in the area, and the lessons we learned there have allowed us to expand. The DC area is great for entrepreneurs because of the access to capital and the access to some of the nation’s top talent through great Universities. Young people rolling out of consulting firms, government roles, cyber security jobs make this a great place to attract talent. There’s a reason DC is one of the fastest growing tech scenes, and we’re glad we started there.
Thanks to Steve Corcoran, LawnStarter!
3) A Dynamic Upward Trend
Having launched Solo Trekker 4 U on Dec. 12, 2012, I find Washington ideal for entrepreneurs. The District and suburbs have been on a dynamic upward trend in the past decade. The large number of technologists and networking options make for synergy for everyone from millennials to Baby Boomers looking to create the next disruptive technology. For those of us connecting solo travelers with well priced 4-5 star travel services, the numerous embassy delegations provide a direct connection globally without leaving home. The local universities have global reach and provide both research options and access to a well-qualified pool of potential employees. Lastly, Metro DC is less expensive for self-funding entrepreneurs than Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley. As a result, the image of Washington as a government-only town is now completely out-dated.
Thanks to Elizabeth Avery, Solo Trekker 4 U!
4) Intellectual Level
Most people would probably say that Washington‘s geo-location attracts or at least forces top talent in the world of finance, politics, policy and health to at least come through the city a minimum of once or twice a year. This exposure is great for any entrepreneur. To me personally, the higher than average intellectual level of the general DC population is the main attraction. It almost seems as if majority of the residents possess at least a master’s degree in a particular field and a whole lot have a doctorate. If you can get this type of demographic to buy into the concept, scaling out should not be a terrible problem. The insight and advice received along the way is also priceless.
Thanks to Zlatan Beca, Repair Jungle!
5) Three Reasons
The Talent: The D.C. area is home to a ton of young talent. Lots of recent college grads gravitate to the D.C. area because it is a cool/fun place to be, with lots of free activities and nightlife available along an expansive network of public transportation. Many of these recent grads are looking for jobs in marketing, sales, and customer service. While there is a bit of a tech-talent shortage in the area (when will Georgetown start an engineering school?), where isn’t there a tech shortage? The Resources: The D.C. metro region has a solid and growing network of resources for entrepreneurs, particularly tech entrepreneurs. The Internet itself was born here, companies like AOL and UUNet were started here, and today many web and software companies are thriving in the D.C. area. Entrepreneur networking groups such as Mindshare and EO are very active. Startup accelerators and shared office spaces such as 1776 and The Fort went from being virtually nonexistent when we started Capterra in 1999 to now being great options for getting started in a collaborative and entrepreneurial environment. The Most Bang for Your Buck: Office space and overall cost of living in the D.C. area, while not cheap, is a fraction of the cost of the major tech hubs – San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and NYC. There are many viable options for setting up shop, ranging from downtown D.C., to Arlington, the Dulles Corridor, and the I-270 Corridor. This helps to keep prices in check. It’s also worth mentioning that D.C. offers lots of opportunities unavailable elsewhere. We have amazing restaurants and museums, the Monuments, and we’re less than two hours from both the beach and the mountains. Entrepreneurs need to take breaks too!
Thanks to Mike Ortner, Capterra!
6) Young and Driven
There are two major advantages for starting and owning a business in the D.C. area. First, the area is a hub for young, driven and well-educated talent. A lot of recent college graduates from great institutions flock to the area, and businesses – especially startups – benefit from that. The second major advantage in the area‘s proximity. It is centrally located on the East Coast, so If you look at a map, there are a lot of major cities within a three-hour flight or less – New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Atlanta, even Toronto and Montreal. You can set up meetings in these cities and be in and out in the same day.
Thanks to David Boice, Tier10!
7) The Streets Are Paved With Acronyms
In spite of the extreme polarization that characterizes Washington today, we’re here because everyone agrees that open and transparent government is a high priority goal that we must strive mightily to achieve. Incomprehensible government jargon is a persistent problem. James Madison once said, “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both.” Our GovlishR program is dedicated to preventing the farce and tragedy that Madison so feared. When we cannot understand what our government is saying, democracy ceases to function. Govlish deciphers the language of government. We are a data-driven solution to navigating the inscrutable government maze. We aggregate, analyze, organize, format, contextualize, and curate about 100,000 government terms. That includes acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, codes, cryptonyms, aka’s, dba’s, and other terms that defy classification. Successfully mapping the language of government can only be done from here, where decision makers grasp the seriousness of the problem and the need to fix it. If we fail, government risks going down a road toward irrelevance and alienation, the consequences of which are very scary indeed.
Thanks to Robert R. Mander, GovlishR!