Why D.C. is a Great Place for Startups

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Michiko Morales

A recent article in Forbes about incubators in southern California and their role in helping startups find their footing–and funding–got us thinking about places that are particularly auspicious for new ventures. Having a home base in northern Virginia might make us a bit biased, but we think that the Washington, DC metro area is a great place for startups, and the region itself has all the nurturing features inherent in the very best of incubators.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Large amount of available brain power/workforce
    With over a dozen colleges and universities within close range of the nation’s capital, not to mention the number of interns that come here for  short-term placements and then decide to stay for the long-term, there’s no shortage of smart, savvy and willing workers to power the next tech boom.
  • Large amount of established brain power to serve as advisors + nurturers
    Every kid needs a responsible adult–or two, three or four–to look up to. Same with startups. Not only are there a plethora of “responsible adults” around in terms of successful tech companies that got their start here, there’s also plenty of local senior staff for companies from Google to Raytheon on-hand to tap for advice. And don’t forget about the region’s angel investors who are eager to discover promising new ventures. Just today, a new entrepreneurial advisory council was announced.
  • Plenty of problems to solve
    As has been wisely pointed out again and again, the best bet for entrepreneurial success is to find a problem, and solve it. And, well, we’ve got plenty of problems in the DMV. Those problems aren’t necessarily bigger than those of any other major metropolis, but living here makes you keenly aware of what is top of mind to the national audience and what their wants and needs are as they are played out on the national stage in the local news (as well as in Congress, before the Supreme Court, and in demonstrations on the National Mall). Sometimes, too many likeminded techies living in one area can lead to a vacuum-like effect wherein it’s difficult to know what life is like outside the bubble. To live here and maintain your relevancy in dinner conversations, you have to know what is happening in the world around you. Pay attention, and you’ll find plenty of problems worth solving right here.

What do you think? What other qualities do you think are required of an ideal place for startups? What other startup fodder does DC bring to the table? Let us know in the comments section!

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Leah Nurik