Here’s what local leaders have to say about DC’s ranking as one of the top global startup ecosystems

Local entrepreneurial experts Khuram Zaman of Fifth Tribe and Jeff Reid of Georgetown give their thoughts on the numbers in the Startup Genome report, and what DC's #11 ranking means for the startup ecosystem.

A look at the 2021 Startup Genome rankings.

For those on the ground in the DMV startup community, finding out that the region is considered one of the best ecosystems in the world isn’t quite a surprise.

Yesterday, Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network released their 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. The city was ranked as the #11 startup ecosystem in the world, closely following big wigs like Silicon Valley, NYC and Boston. It was the same slot it got in 2020, although it went up in overall score across the seven factors that determine cities’ ranks. (ICYMI, you can find more on how DC measured up here)

Here’s how DC ranked in each criteria category on a scale of 1-10:

  • Performance: 7
  • Funding: 7
  • Connectedness: 6
  • Market Reach: 8
  • Knowledge: 1
  • Talent: 8

So what’s driving those numbers? Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, told that talent was a key ingredient behind why DC continues to rank high on the list. In addition to those interested in entrepreneurship, he noted that the region is home to many people interested in making social change who may have found that startups were a better place to do so than government.

“DC has some really unique aspects that give us some unfair advantages,” Reid said. “First and foremost DC attracts bright and ambitious people that want to make an impact on the world.”

Reid thinks that the low knowledge rating, which is primarily determined by patents, might be due to the fact that a lot of research being done in the area is occurring in labs, not necessarily appearing on the startup scene. There are also not as many big engineering schools as compared to some other markets, he said, despite the city’s many large universities.

Fifth Tribe CEO Khuram Zaman, though, thought that the many colleges and universities in the area make it a great space for innovation. Zaman tweeted about the report, noting that DC’s high ranking is also due to its spending power and upwards trend of exits.


Reid agreed that the DMV’s local and national government connections are an asset to the startup ecosystem here. He said that being close to so many regulatory agencies makes it appealing for many to launch businesses and startups in DC.

“Industries that are ripe for disruption often have a regulatory component,” Reid said, adding that there are many problems to be solved with startups, and DC is a great place to solve them.

Where the area is limited geographically, Zaman said, is that with people moving across state and city boundaries for living and working, there’s limited connectivity here with one another. He said that he’d like to see people moving into the vacant office spaces and creating more places where “startups, investors, and entrepreneurs can meet on a regular basis.”

But mostly, he said in the thread, the area needs more people sharing the opportunities that already exist if it wants to go even further in rankings (which, hey, is where we come in).

“We need more awareness,” Zaman wrote. “So many innovators and entrepreneurs are still largely unaware of all the opportunities. We need something like a huge subway map that makes it super easy to navigate this innovation ecosystem. We need some sort of product but also a concierge service.”

Companies: Georgetown
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