Startup census reveals some regional surprises

A census of D.C.-area entrepreneurs finds that computer science is the most popular industry to start a company, followed by marketing and advertising.

The 2016 Fosterly Regional Census reflects what the region needs to attract more entrepreneurs and small businesses, said Fosterly’s founder, Adam Zuckerman.

He said the census results proved that the greater Washington region’s economy is not as dependent on federal spending as many think.

“A lot of people think that D.C. is a region of federal government. Which, quite frankly, it is, but there’s a whole other side of it that people don’t understand,” Zuckerman told What’s Working in Washington. “Seventy-seven percent of the revenue that people reported coming in is actually from the private sector.”

Fosterly is a community of entrepreneurs and startups in the greater Washington region.

“We have a top 10 industry list now. Number one is computer science, two is marketing and advertising, three is IT and services, internet, financial services, financial consulting. It goes all the way down the line to fringe things. There’s healthcare, there’s travel,” he said. “You name it, we have a little bit of it here in the area.”

Zuckerman stressed that the area’s millennial entrepreneurs are putting in hard work and hustle. He also noted the diversity of entrepreneurs in the area.

“People are coming to the area not just from the local area but from many, many other places,” Zuckerman said, noting approximately 13 percent of respondents were born in another country.

Zuckerman suggested helping connect local startups to embassies and consulates in D.C. to capitalize on global resources in the area.

“We’ve seen missions from the U.K. for example, bringing entrepreneurs over. Or Ireland, and a bunch of other locations. What I can say is that D.C. is uniquely positioned to work with governments solely because of proximity,” he said.

The one thing that D.C. needs to improve upon to be successful is building stronger entrepreneurial communities, Zuckerman said.

“Community isn’t something you can buy. It isn’t something that you can say, hey, we have community. It takes time to build and develop,” he said. “What we need is when some of these companies in the area IPO, we need those founders to stick around and give advice and invest back in the community.”

Zuckerman said that this is slow to build in D.C., specifically because the area is spread over so many jurisdictions.

“What Silicon Valley has is one county and one state. We have D.C., we have Virginia, we have Montgomery County, we have Fairfax, we have Loudon, we have P.G. County. And although they’re collaborative, they’re actually also competitors,” he said.


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