Recap: Made in DC Tech Panel

Made in DC Panoramic

At one of it’s biggest events to date, the D.C. chapter of Tech in Motion gathered entrepreneurs and tech aficionados alike at the infamous startup incubator, 1776, located in the heart of downtown D.C. The event that brought these groups all together? It was none other than Tech in Motion’s “Made in D.C.” panel discussion, featuring some top influencers and prominent thought-leaders from the local tech community.

As the attendees began to arrive, there was no shortage of eager and inquisitive individuals milling about the tables of Tech in Motion’s featured sponsors, Microsoft and Alarm.com. After a fun demo by Microsoft’s representative, Lisa Abdilova, on the ways to bring your travel plans to life via Bing, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Internet Explore, the panel kicked off. The panelists for the evening consisted of Ghafran Abbas, the Chief Architect at SocialRadar; Chuck Ghoorah, EVP at Cvent; Ian Lotinsky, VP of Engineering at LearnZillion; and Evan Burfield, a Co-Founder at 1776. The discussion was moderated by the Co-founder and COO of Nexercise, Greg Coleman.

Made in DC Panelists

The panel detailed the trials, tribulations and successes from their personal experiences of fostering a company from the ground up in D.C., with a specific emphasis placed on tech companies. The panel kicked things off with the question, “What does D.C. have to offer compared to other tech hubs like Silicon Valley, New York or San Francisco?” The panelists unanimously agreed that D.C. is uniquely and actively looking for solutions to real, substantial quality-of-life issues in such areas as education and healthcare. The startups in D.C. focus on issues that matter, rather than coming up with the next social app like “YO” – and what’s more, the community is proud of that.

600_379377012

The conversation then shifted to address common challenges that startups encounter when looking to get a foothold in the District. Evan stated that the biggest challenge he sees showing up time and time again for any startup in the community “is how fragmented D.C. traditionally is and how to overcome that”.

This fragmentation has proved a big barrier to overcome, with the result that the tech communities local to Virginia, D.C., and Maryland rarely cross paths. Individuals are very supportive of their own communities but show a surprising reluctance to venture out into each other’s spaces and connect; however, as Chuck stated, the willingness to help on another out within the community is astounding. When prompted further, Ian stated that D.C. has not “reoriented all of the available assets in D.C. to focus around this [tech] community,” which continues to perpetuate this lack of resource awareness that prevents startups from thriving.

Ghafran then navigated the discussion towards a more technical focus, expressing that the main challenge facing the tech community and startups in D.C. is a series of disconnects. Ghafran stated that the challenges he’d seen as a developer are two-fold. Many developers find it difficult to connect with non-developers and, in part as a result of this gap, many companies experience difficulty in finding the tech talent they require. Along a similar vein, one of the biggest tech challenges that Ian experienced in his career was finding entrepreneurial engineers and teaching them company culture or vice versa.

600_379376642

The dialogue wrapped up with a nod towards what the future holds for the D.C. tech community. There were two trends that the panelists agreed upon as being a part of DC’s future. The first was a movement of startups geared towards topics unique to D.C. Ghafran stated that D.C.’s future lay “in healthcare, education, and government. It’s what’s unique to D.C. and [we] will see a huge engine of startups come and focus on that in the next ten years”.

The second trend was broader in nature and expanded to include not only D.C., but also the country as a whole. Currently, Silicon Valley is commonly viewed as THE place to be for technology. However, Evan argued that “while Silicon Valley has been viewed as this tech mecca, there will be a diffusion of this to different cities,” which will transition the tech community away from this mecca-mentality.

The dialogue then wrapped up with a brief Q&A section, closing out the event with a tangible buzz of excitement and inspiration in the air. Check back in next month for a recap of the next D.C. event – or just join the DC chapter to be a part of it.

Recap: Tech in Motion DC Demos and Drinks

On Wednesday, January 29th, our DC chapter held their second successful Demos and Drinks event at Rumors, a well-known venue located in the bustling neighborhood of DuPont. The event brought together 150 tech enthusiasts and professionals and featured SocialRadar, FiscalNote, and LeagueApps: three local startups currently making waves in the DC metro area.

As attendees braved the cold and began to arrive, they were greeted by the Tech in Motion team and provided with a complimentary drink ticket. The night quickly became animated as attendees milled about the bar, networked, and flocked to the simultaneous demos.

SocialRadar pic_

SocialRadar’s station was piled high with t-shirts and swag for attendees, while representatives showed off the beta version of the app on their personal phones. SocialRadar is a location-based services app that allows users to connect with the people around them. Representatives walked attendees through the app’s ability to merge their phone’s geo-locational abilities with their social media accounts to provide users with real-time information of who is around them and how they are connected. SocialRadar’s privacy solution allows for complete control over account privacy settings with the option of being invisible to others, anonymous, visible to friends, friendsof friends, or sharing your information publicly. SocialRadar officially launched their app the day after Demos and Drinks, Thursday, January 30th, and have since been the talk of the town!

Fiscal Note pic_

It should come as no surprise that in Washington, D.C., just about anyone you happen to chance upon is politically attuned. So when attendees caught wind of FiscalNote, their designated demo area was immediately packed with inquisitive event-goers. The representatives of this real-time government analytics platform, that enables users to track the progress of local legislation, motions, votes and the like, were kept busy the duration of the event showing their product and explaining their predictive algorithms.

LeagueApps pic 2

The third demo company was LeagueApps, a sports community platform that provides users with the resources necessary to manage leagues and individual sports organizations. For active communities, LeagueApps would be incredibly useful in, say, organizing a kickball league in the area. Created in the Summer of 2013 and based in NYC, LeagueApps already has success stories in cities across the nation, such as Chicago and LA.

event under way

The evening was a huge success! Attendees could be seen continuing to network for over an hour after the event officially ended. Thank you for all the great feedback and please reach out to our organizers if interested in presenting at a future Demos and Drinks event.

A big thanks to our sponsors, Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners. Stay tuned for Tech in Motion DC’s next event and make sure to join our official meetup group!