Mayor-Elect Gray: Please Make DC Awesome For Entrepreneurs

A great blog post by an awesome  entrepreneur friend of mine Daniel Odio-paez, CEO and Co-founder of the DC based startup, PointAbout.

I’d like to use this blog post to argue for incoming mayor Gray and the DC Council to make DC the most entrepreneur-friendly place in the US. That means tax breaks, access to government contracts, support for innovation zones, aggressive access to angel funding, but mostly it just means convincing high profile entrepreneurs from other areas to make the DC area their home.  It shouldn’t be that hard — many SF-based entrepreneurs are from the DC area originally and have family here.  You just have to give them good reasons to come back to DC. Read more of this post

Time to support Innovation in Washington, D.C, not Milking the Government

Washington, D.C. has the money, we have the top universities, we have smart coders spin off the AOL, we are recession-proof,  we have ton of smart tech people in the region…We have all these, but why the hell have we been struggling to position Washington, D.C. as a technology hub? Although, we have Clearspring, OPower, LivingSocial, ComScore, Micros Systems, PointAbout, the creators of AppMakr and AOL, and of course 🙂 but will they be able to position DC like the way Google, Facebook, and others defined Silicon Valley?

I sort of addressed the problem back in December of last year, but I am sure there are more to this.  So, I just felt like addressing a few more challenges or obstacles hoping the local investors read this and do something about it.

We need to define DC tech scene more than just top secret clearances, government contracts and billing hours. These are NOT innovation. Clearance locks you in. Maintaining Top Secret/SCI clearance requires you to continue work in that field. You can always get reinstated, but it’s a pain. Once you get a TS job, you have strong disincentives to get out of the game.

Although, we have the largest educated population in the country and perhaps even the world, but regretfully,  it’s geared toward milking the government; not toward producing value or innovation.

Come to think of it, that’s how Yurie systems started their business – government contractor. As an employee number 8, we started milking the Pentagon by building them a proprietary video protocol to support US servicemen in Bosnia via UAV predator back in mid 90s, but then we went commercial in 97, and finally Lucent bought us in 1998 for over $1.23 B when we had the revenue of only $51 m (23x) 🙂  But then again, that was the pre-bubble days 😦

As you can see, it’s going to be very difficult to build a robust high tech scene from scratch in DC area when you are competing for talent against Government contractors.

On the positive side, I believe the DC Entrepreneurial scene is definitely growing. Thanks to the Entrepreneurial programs initiatives by a few of our local universities including the George Washington University that I have been involved with, University of Maryland, DC tech event meetup, and in particular the DC Founder Institute I previously covered.

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Make An App For Your Mobile Phone In 10 Minutes… WHAT?

Here is another awesome self- funded DC based startup I should have covered earlier.

The company called PointAbout. I met one of their co-founders, Dan Odio over a year ago in a lounge in Chinatown. Great guy! First thing Dan did, he pulled out his iPhone and went right to the point talking about his company, PointAbout 🙂 A week later, I was invited to their office in DC to meet the rest of their crew.

If you also blog, you can totally see the similarity between their business model and the ones offered by blog hosting companies like WordPress, bloggers, and SixApart. Let me elaborate. Remember your Web 1.0 days when you wanted to set up a website? You needed to find a Web hosting company, then you needed to have the expertise to build the site, etc. If you do, I am sure you also remember the cost associated with it. Well, that was about 10 years ago. You can now do most of that with a tiny fraction of the cost in a few hours using any of the blog hosting companies like what I have done here with my blog using WordPress. PointAbout helps you to build a mobile App for your services in just less than an hour with a tiny fraction of the cost. They let you to quickly mobilize the content you’re already publishing, like RSS & XML feeds, APIs and HTML content. Their AppMakr service helps you to build native mobile applications in minutes instead of months, across multiple phone platforms like iPhone and Android without any ramp-up time and no need for proprietary programming expertise.
But wait, there’s more