DC’s ecosystem is far stronger than people realize with a combo of government-focused companies and strong data platforms
It might be cliché to some to say every city has a startup. At this point in the golden era of automated technologies and abundant venture capital, it’s clear hi-tech is taking over the global economy. Some cities have fared better than others in tech growth, and one of them is policy-focused and lobbying-intensive Washington D.C. Most major businesses (including technology corporations, of course), have at least a contracted lobbyist roaming the halls of Capitol Hill. Yet, some have open full-fledged offices in the US capital. Small startups have found sure footing in the city and the high-volume business traffic has been conducive for growing a local venture capital scene.
In Q4 2016, the DC metro area scored 35 deals, ninth best in the US (when you merge the San Francisco and San Jose metros). That’s an improvement on the year before, when PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association found 29 D.C.-area startups raised $556.22 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, part of a $1.41 billion across 169 deals for the entire year. Buoyed by high traffic from all industries, it has seen its share of new incubation and acceleration projects led by 1776 and its 1776 Seed fund (which has made about 50 investments according to Crunchbase.
The city is growing, and limiting its startup prowess to only 10 companies really isn’t fair. But here they are, 10 up-and-coming startup powers to watch emerging from America’s capital city:
Founded by Emil Pitkin, GovPredict (Twitter: @govpredict) has raised $120,000 from Y Combinator for 15 products that track legislative activity, compare live bills, co-sponsorship, district intelligence, white label reports, and tools for advocacy organizations. They list six main employees plus an adviser on their website, including CTO Neal Kemp and VP Ashton Theodore Randle. They boast handling 2.3 million documents and providing 35,000 daily alerts through their various platforms.
Pitkin brings with him an impressive academic career that includes a BA in Mathematics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in statistics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
2. Arcadia Power
With $4 million in hand from investors like BoxGroup and Wonder Ventures, Arcadia Power is a nationwide clean energy-based utility platform. Their concept is to offset customers’ use of traditional energy with deployment of wind, solar, and electric in other locations. Many customers, primarily renters, do not have the option to install solar panels or completely rewire their local infrastructure. But investments via Arcadia support such infrastructure development.
“That’s one of the most important parts of what we’re doing,” CEO Kiran Bhatraju recently told TechCrunch. “The vast majority of Americans can’t do rooftop solar. There’s only about 8% of Americans that can.”
More than one degree of separation shouldn’t hamper your ability to connect, especially for younger social media users. Mytonomy connects the newest generation of professionals with the current generation of high school students (so, people between ages of 14 and 25) to guide rising students on career choices, colleges, and all the other daunting things that are waiting for teens and tend to smack 20-somethings in the face unexpectedly. They’re invested in by the NewSchools Venture Fund and the University of Michigan.
4. ID DataWeb
ID DataWeb just bagged a $3 million investment from Strategic Cyber Ventures at the end of January, their big product is a so-called Attribute eXchange Network, or AXN, that manages permissions for data access according to identity. Biometric data and device tracking factor into how they work their magic, a basic necessity for any company dealing with payment authentication and ID confirmation these days. Verifying identity might be made more difficult if DataWeb notices remote access from a previously unknown device and/or other metrics don’t match up that might indicate the person signing in is indeed the person whose data they are trying to protect.
“We offer services for identity security, it’s identity as a service,” ID DataWeb CEO David Coxe told DC Inno two months ago. “It’s an adaptive, intelligent identification control.”
Designed to help generate new business from existing relationships, Contactually’s CRM automates the organization of your contacts by collecting data from multiple channels. It draws info from calendars, emails, social networks, and even phone calls (perhaps with extra help from apps like Truecaller, perhaps not). It integrates with iOS and Android, has plugins for Gmail and Outlook, and provides an API.
One of the more well-funded startups on this list, ID.me links up and verifies your identity across multiple accounts -paid accounts, social media profiles, etc. — and gives you one consolidated dashboard to manage your exposure online. The primary importance here is to make authentication more seamless while of course protecting your financial data and transactions.
They have about $40 million in nine rounds from 12 investors, according to Crunchbase. That includes the Silicon Valley Bank, FTV Capital, Scout Ventures, and the National Institute of Skilled Training (NIST). They also have money from BoxGroup, an Arcadia investor.
They were originally founded as TroopSwap as a project out of the Harvard Business School with a total focus on soldiers. Renamed in July 2013, they grabbed a multimillion-dollar contract from the US Department of Commerce to verify identities during high-impact, high-rolling transactions.
Carving out its own niche in the Internet of Things (IoT), Leverege runs simulations of large IoT sensor networks offering rapid prototyping and proofs of concept (PoC). They have a basic “Jumpstart” platform for new projects, the flagship platform for businesses and small teams, then more robust customized software programs.
8. Pantheon VR
An edtech company with a legitimate mission and a damn good plan to fulfill it, Pantheon‘s PASCAL project uses VR and AR to better teach children how to make decisions. This can be applied to average students, but they also have formats that apply to special needs diagnoses like Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning autism.
“We believe that if the proper environment is constructed, these individuals will flourish on an entirely new level.” their website reads. For now, they are working on chemistry programs to help kids better understand how atoms work, as seen from the screenshots here.
The ‘analytics for social institutions’ company. Based in Auckland, New Zealand as well as Washington D.C., Dexibit provides an analytics platform catering to the programming, fundraising, and visitation-tracking needs of non-profit institutions like national history and science museums that are commonplace across the nation’s capital. They have to juggle not just online traffic, but on-site (offline) foot traffic as well as how engaged visitors are with different exhibits. It compares those stats with other factors like time of year, weather, and major events in the area.
Imagine if you could live without spreadsheets, manual task status updates, etc. That’s Dharma‘s pitch. They take in information from as many sources of data as you can find to plug into it: email chains, Excel sheets, reports in multiple languages. Data can be sucked in from desktop or mobile, iOS or Android. There is also offline access. You can also use the search tool in full question form, with search engine results gleaned solely from the data you allow Dharma to see.
“Our platform offers a one-stop shop for you to manage projects and staff, identify and collect information, and analyze and share what you learn – all in real time,” their website reads.
They have reaised $1.4 million from Bern Shen, Duncan Goldie-Scot and Sapphire Ventures in Palo Alto according to Angelist. They offer specialized versions for healthcare, logistics, and research.