Startups

Why Fosterly is calling it quits after 7 years in business

Launched in 2011 as a resource blog for entrepreneurs, the organization grew into a community with many offerings over the years. Taking the side project full-time just didn't make sense, founder Adam Zuckerman told Technical.ly.

At a Fosterly Study Hall in August 2015.

(Courtesy photo)

After seven years of connecting entrepreneurs and hosting open office hours and events to strengthen the startup ecosystem in the DMV region, Fosterly is ceasing operations after the group wraps up some final consulting projects.

“We did a lot of good for the region over the last seven years,” founder Adam Zuckerman told Technical.ly. “We helped shape the D.C. region’s ecosystem in a collaborative, supportive way.”

Launched in 2011 as a resource blog and “office hours” org for local creatives, Fosterly’s goal was to fill gaps in the #dctech ecosystem for entrepreneurs. It then went from a series of coffeeshop meetups to an online directory for entrepreneurs to partnering with companies like InternMatch. The organization even gained support from Verizon and Microsoft over the years.

Zuckerman made the shutdown announcement via email last week, including an explanation and many thanks to the group’s partners. Everyone working for Fosterly had a full-time job somewhere else, Zuckerman told Technical.ly. He explained further in the note that Fosterly played its role of filling ecosystem gaps — but the need would be better served differently.

“Some of the initiatives that we were doing, they took up so much time, that unless it is supported by an entity that has full-time staff, it wouldn’t do those programs justice,” Zuckerman told us.

Zuckerman has been with Discovery for seven years, working in multiple capacities. The media company allowed him to grow Fosterly on the side. He also announced that he is leaving Discovery at the end of the year for a new job in 2019, one that he declined to specify. He did say he will still be working in region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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When asked if the team would go back and do anything differently, Zuckerman told us:

Yeah, wow, that’s a really good question. There are many many different things that we would do differently. A lot of the things that we were doing were reactionary, it was through the need. We didn’t have a multiyear plan because we didn’t know what the multiyear plan was.

Looking back, I think that we had the opportunity to turn into a large accelerator or incubator or raise a fund and do things like that, but that would of changed the ethos of what Fosterly was. And there was always that lingering question of “Oh, will this actually be a sustainable, revenue-driven business?” But we never actually jumped in full-time to do that, because by changing that step, people would of viewed us differently.

You can be a double-bottom-line business, but we were more of a nonprofit mentality as opposed to a business mentality. I guess if we wanted to do something differently, maybe it would have been, switch over to an actual business, focus on it full-time and see if the impact that we had could sustain multiple employees and also impact the region in most the same ways.

Having a full-time focus on this would have been unbelievable. If you have multiple eyes, it’s something I would of loved to have done but, I’m really happy with how things turned out and there are a lot of people I met along the way I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t do it.

Check out Technical.ly DC’s coverage of Fosterly over the years.

Companies: Fosterly
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