The first thing we learned about growing a startup is there’s a huge chasm between what we thought we knew and the reality of growing a business. It wasn’t because we didn’t plan, it was because there is no formula for growing a company from scratch. Entering our fourth year we have been fortunate to come across a few invaluable resources that we rely on to survive.
Here in D.C., the emergence of the sharing economy has amplified the resources available for startups. Below are three tips for our startup colleagues who are either in the startup grind or just beginning.
1. Get shared space
All of us are familiar with the garage and kitchen table business. But in 2015 there are ample options for space and support all over the District. Each space has its own culture and character, and it’s inspiring to be among other entrepreneurs. Countless times we have bounced around ideas or even partnered with folks only a desk away.
2. Go big on talent
The startup ecosystem is competitive for a reason. Fastest to market usually wins over the best idea. It can be hard to find the best engineers, user experience designers and developers, especially if you are looking to design with new flavors of code like Ruby or Angular. This is where General Assembly comes in handy.
Based out of NYC with offices in D.C., GA offers full-time and part-time courses in everything from mobile app development to product management. Geared toward helping people make career pivots, develop a business idea or land a high-paying tech job, they continue to churn out rock-star talent that are often interested in working on projects (either full-time or freelance). The talent that comes out of the classes second to none, and we can attest to that.
3. Raise smart money
As a startup, you quickly realize that time is literally money. Money gives you time to explore options as you plan out your strategy, and it gives you latitude to invest in critical resources to advance your competitive push. Not being properly capitalized means you may have to make knee-jerk reactions that may not be in your best interest.
In our process of raising funds, we realized that there is a difference between money and smart money. Smart money couples funding with necessary resources like business development, operational consulting or brand management. There are many reputable, helpful and genuinely passionate venture capital and private equity firms in D.C. We’ve been very impressed with how hands-on many of these firms are as well as willing to connect. Below are some notable firms with great reputations: