When you think of technology in the Nation’s Capital, you probably think of encrypted blackberries or “Enemy of the State” type NSA operations, but Washington DC’s tech industry is more than just security and surveillance these days.
More and more entrepreneurs are looking at The District of Columbia for the space and workforce needed to get their startups off the ground. Tech giants like Living Social, founded in 2007 as Hungry Machine, saw the potential that DC offered and took advantage of it; five years later Living Social has 46 million members in 25 countries.
During that same time, DC was home to more mergers and acquisitions than Silicon Valley.
In fact, the DC version of Tech Meetup, a community tech conference held across major cities in the US, has already begun selling more tickets than its NYC counterpart, despite being around less than a year (the New York chapter started in 2004).
The reason behind this startup frenzy could be the political aura surrounding the district. Many people come to DC to work with the Government or one if its contractors, and seeing a huge potential, try to start their own businesses to fill a niche. Also, Obama is making DC a cool place to live and work again, and overall living conditions in DC are among the highest in the Nation (it was rated the number 1 Happiest large city in 2011 by CBS News).
The last piece of the puzzle is that, with so much emphasis on politics in the city, the topic of technology in DC tends to get buried underneath debates about legislation. People are only now realizing the potential for technology startups in DC. With images of bursting tech bubbles still fresh in their minds, savvy entrepreneurs see greener pastures in the less competitive regions surrounding the Potomac.
In a few years, we will know for certain whether these tech startups have had any effect on entrepreneurship in DC, but for now, the city is basking in its new found popularity among the tech industry.
Even if things go sour, we should at least be able get our president to use something cooler than a blackberry.