Startups

These 8 startups won Digital DC Tech Fund grants

Monday's DC Tech Meetup featured eight startups that won Digital DC Tech Fund grants. As a condition of the city-backed program, the companies have to stick around for at least three years.

Mayor Vincent Gray announcing the eight winners of Digital DC Tech Fund grants, Oct. 6, 2014.

(Photo courtesy of Antonio Bray)

Monday’s DC Tech Meetup featured the usual pitches from entrepreneurs trying to dazzle their audience — but this time, the presenters had already won over the desired crowd.
Mayor Vincent Gray made a special appearance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library — in the middle of a winning Nats game, no less — to congratulate eight Digital DC Tech Fund recipients.
With just a hint of cheekiness, Gray hailed the arrival of the “Silicon Valley of the East” — scratch that, “a substitute for Silicon Valley.” The fund is part of a broader marketing and development effort announced in March, Digital DC.
The campaign has helped fuel the rapid growth of 1776 with a $200,000 grant and is seeking to install a technology corridor along the stretch of 7th Street and Georgia Avenue between Mount Vernon Square and Petworth.
The following startups were then greeted on stage to pitch their grant-winning projects:

  • Aquicore, which is developing software for buildings to monitor their gas and water usage in real time. ($122,500 awarded)
  • Azert’s Smarter Socket, a Bluetooth-embedded socket to help expand GPS-based services inside buildings. ($122,500 awarded)
  • EventKloud, a smooth event planning interface. ($97,500 awarded)
  • Flexspot, a parking app. ($47,500 awarded)
  • MyMuzik, an interactive sheet music substitute. ($30,000 awarded)
  • Riide, an electric bicycle. ($172,500 awarded)
  • Silica Labs’ Landmark, which will allow users to navigate cities with directions based on pictures and landmarks. ($147,500 awarded)
  • Vino Lovers, an online wine delivery service. ($97,500 awarded)

Overall, D.C. will give almost $840,0dc00 to help accelerate these eight projects, which were chosen from a set of over 140 applicants.
“A lot of people get their startup funding through their friends and families,” said TechNet CEO Rey Ramsey who serves on the board of directors of DC Innovates, the nonprofit that reviewed the grant applications. The awards are intended to “move them to the next level so they can have their Series A and Series B and be successful.”
Stephanie Nguyen, the cofounder of Silica Labs, said she was proud to be winning a grant from D.C. “It specifically relates to a city where our product can thrive,” she said.
The funds will allow Silica Labs to polish Landmark and hire “talented developers to build natively on iOS and Android,” she added.
As a condition for the grant, the eight companies will have to be located for at least three years along the Digital DC Tech Opportunity Corridor, and hire a majority of new staff among a pool of D.C. residents.

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