This is a “fantastic” time for D.C.’s entrepreneurship community, especially women, according to Lisa Throckmorton, COO of SpeakerBox, a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm specializing in high tech companies.
“There has been so much community building and movement in the last five to eight-year range,” Throckmorton said. The D.C. tech ecosystem has “really taken on a life of its own,” she said. This new life has made the area a primary place for entrepreneurship among millennials and Gen X innovators. “I think people are starting to take notice,” said Throckmorton.
SpeakerBox client 1776, a D.C. startup incubator is an example, Throckmorton said.
“When 1776 came into play, I think people heard about it, weren’t quite sure what it was,” but that quickly changed, she said, adding “I think that there’s been a lot of strides from the community itself to help articulate that.”
Washington D.C. is “largely known as a seed-stage environment for startups, some people look at that potentially as a ding,” said Throckmorton, but outside companies and investors are “really starting to understand how to connect with the entrepreneurship community here.”
The greater Washington region is a fantastic place for female entrepreneurs, she said. “I know in the past couple of years, D.C. has emerged on the national scale — in publications like Inc. and Forbes — and is making lists for its pro-female entrepreneur environment,” she said. “There has been a huge mobilization of women in this community,” she added, “to really draw out the entrepreneurs, to draw out the technologists.”
The Vinetta Project is an example of this mobilization.
“Their mission is to spur startup growth and investment in female founders. They’re a national organization that launched a D.C. chapter, and literally within this past year, have become the model for their entire organization,” Throckmorton said. “Of the networking events that I go to, networking-slash-programmed events, it’s one of the strongest in the city right now,” she said.
For government contracting and innovation, Throckmorton suggested Dcode42, an incubator helping those “interested in doing business with the government, really learn the ins and outs of that environment,” she said. Dcode42 also pairs entrepreneurs with agency heads to understand both the ecosystems and technologies.