(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
This past weekend, D.C. arrived in force at SXSW in Austin to sell the city as a destination for innovation. D.C. is the most inclusive innovation hub in the country, visitors to the WeDC house were told. It’s also great for female entrepreneurs! Hype, it seems, is not something #dctech is missing.
And outside the (direct) control of Washington, DC Economic Partnership branding, a recent KPMG survey identified D.C. as one of the world’s top 10 forthcoming innovation hubs. Impressive.
That said, as anyone who has been met with a surprised look when they reveal that they work for a startup in D.C. can attest, the city’s innovation sector may lack some outside recognition.
It is from in the midst of this duality that one question TechCrunch asked NextGen Venture Partners’ Jon Bassett caught our attention.
“You have offices in Virginia and Washington, both of which have come a long way in terms of its tech ecosystem,” TechCrunch asked in a recent story about NextGen’s new $22 million fund. “Where does it still have ground to make up, in your opinion?”
Bassett’s response? Simple and straight to the point:
“We still don’t have the giant tech companies that anchor an ecosystem to create lots of millionaires with industry knowledge and skills to go out and start the next generation of companies.”
In a way this is reminiscent of our conversation with SilverStrategy’s Tara Chantal Silver back in October, when she noted the region’s lack (so far) of breakout tech successes but maintained that it’s still early days. “The scene is really only about four years old,” Silver said at the time. “We have all the right ingredients. It’ll just take some time.”
Why is a breakout #dctech success important? For global recognition on the one hand, sure, but also because, as Bassett points out, a success will create more potential investors and, perhaps, add to the hype that encourages existing investors to consider D.C.-based companies. It’s an elusive virtuous cycle where success breeds more success, something Technical.ly has covered in many of its East Coast markets.
We want to know — is Bassett right? Is a breakout star of the scene really the main component #dctech is missing? And if so, what’ll it take to get there?