Elbowing through a crowd of government and professional services industries that have long defined the region’s commercial identity, Washington’s technology community has expanded in both size and scope in recent years, and no one has a better vantage point on the changes taking place than its youngest members — the start-ups.
On a recent visit to The Fort, a center for start-ups in downtown Washington, we spoke with a number of entrepreneurs building new technologies in the heart of the city. Below are their thoughts on what they’ve learned as the region tries to establish itself as one of the nation’s dominant breeding grounds for new technology.
Founder of Social Tables
His business: Helping event planners coordinate their seating arrangements.
Fort resident since January.
On building a start-up in D.C.: “D.C. is going through a second coming of technology. The city needs a sustainable economic foundation, and what better industry than technology, which is what we did so well back in the ’90s. So like many of these founders, I gambled on this being that place, and so far it’s paying off nicely. The valuations are still lower on this side of the country, but that’s okay, that’s part of the cost of doing business. I’ll tell you straight up, though, that the other problem is D.C. is a lazy town, a 9-to-5 town. Look at Congress, they take vacations like crazy, and they set the tone for this town. I have had guys that I’ve had to train, had to show that that’s not how we do it, and I’ve actually parted ways with people because they didn’t understand that, and that has to change if we’re going to swim.”