DC Incubator 1776 Reaches Global Startup Community

By July 6, 2013

Washington startup incubator 1776 launched a number of initiatives this week to help make the nation’s capital a global startup center.

“We’re young, we’re hungry. We really want to make a good name for ourselves,” said Justin Harrison, a startup entrepreneur who works in the space.

The incubator opened three months ago just a few blocks away from the White House. It houses more than 100 startups.

The access to resources – politicians, think tanks, foreign dignitaries and large corporations – is what makes the Washington community unique, said Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776. She said she hopes to make these resources available to a larger community.

It has grown substantially through a number of partnerships and initiatives, including:

– Partnerships with Microsoft and Comcast Business

– A virtual membership program for startups to utilize worldwide

– “Challenge Cup” – a startup competition in Washington culminating talent from more than 16 cities across the globe

– “Startup Federation” – an initiative to partner with startup communities worldwide

Founding members of the Startup Federation include Chicago’s 1871 and Boston’s Cambridge Innovation Center. While a full list of partners has not been released, the possibilities include global partners such as London, Tel Aviv, Moscow and Beijing.

More than 500 people gathered Tuesday at the incubator to celebrate its success.

“We have hitched our wagon to technology as a way of beginning to develop an independent economy here in the District of Columbia,” said Mayor Gray at the event. “Recognizing the ups and the downs of our federal economy, we wanted to be able to start to create our own.”

The city has invested more than $200,000 in the space, and $180,000 toward the challenge cup.

Harris said the incubator’s success could be attributed to not only the unique partnerships in Washington, but also to the mentorship of leaders in existing startup communities such as that of Chicago and Boston.

“Bringing in the entire 360 degrees of participants is really, really important,” Harris said. “In DC, our participants happen to be people like the President of the United States, members of congress and global heads of state, so we have an extraordinary set of assets.”

“It’s a responsibility of ours to leverage those assets to help our startups, but it’s also an opportunity because we can actually become a global hub for any startup that’s really trying to tackle big challenges.”

Hear from members of 1776 and the larger DC startup community here: