The inaugural DC TechDay was a conversation starter, with fledgling and well-established startups presenting alongside each other, hailing visitors and exchanging thoughts. Up to 3,000 visitors filed into the National Building Museum to watch and listen as 170 startups exhibited their craft.
It was the first TechDay outside of New York, and there’s a reason for it, organizers told Technical.ly DC: the city is still at the “grassroots” stage, said community coordinator Dahlia Green, but it also “had the talent.”
That was on full display when 21-year-old CEO Assad Yusupov, sipping a well-earned Duvel, talked about MunchQuick. The kitchen-to-doorstep delivery food startup is a few months old and is already selling hundreds of meals a day, he said. Here’s the company’s pitch from earlier this year.
Technical.ly also ran into Ushü, a software that tailors custom-made sneakers to the user’s foot. Terri Hollins, the CEO and sole founder (zing), said the idea came naturally. “I have foot issues and I like athletic shoes.”
Then there were the well-established mainstays of D.C. tech like Speek, AddThis and Bloompop, which had all reserved booths, giving passersby a whiff of their success stories.
A few companies also lent a very D.C. aura to the event, including DSPolitical, BuyPartisan and Voter Gravity.
The juxtaposition of different sectors is what makes the strength of the D.C. tech scene, said DC TechDay producer Jesse Podell. “Here we have these governmental, big big big employers,” he said. “People want to get away from that.” He also said the atmosphere among the presenters was “more collaborative” and “laid back” than in New York.
Also spotted: an elected official in the midst of entrepreneurs.
The D.C. Techie Award ceremony — which recognized outstanding startups in 10 categories — briefly paused when House Representative Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) took the stage and worked the crowd.
“That product you created, you never know what it will become,” he said, citing as an example Hewlett Packard, which “started up in a garage.”
He also mentioned the need for immigration reform — a growing concern for the tech industry. “We’re in a field full of fertile dirt” for entrepreneurship, he said.
Sending U.S.-educated immigrants back to their home country, he added, is “rude” and “wrong.”
He then presented RightHire its Techie Award trophy. (See below for a full list of winners).
- Education: Braincert
- Best Unfunded Startup: Improvonia
- B to B: RightHire
- Social Impact: Spend Consciously
- B to C: Airside Mobile
- Health Tech: Nexercise
- Social Media: Snaapiq
- GovTech: FiscalNote
- Women in Business: Verifeed
- FinTech: Wealthminder