Hobnobbing with angels

This is allegedly a half week, or light week, over at Elevation, but I’m chasing down two finicky stories that are proving somewhat difficult to get. Like nailing jello to the wall, to use a tired cliche. As a result, I’m spending a lot of time in the old desk chair, waiting for my phone to ring or for an email to pop up in one of my many inboxes. So I have a few minutes to blog and update on the latest and greatest to rock the INJ (innovation and job news) world this week.

First, I learned something new on background from a story I wrote about Georgetown Angels. Three separate sources told me that “angels like to invest in their own backyards.” This is to keep an eye on their investments and lend a hand if the companies they have invested in need help. Venture capitalists, on the other hand, invest all over the map. I realize that I should, in the words of my 10th grade English teacher, “never make absolute statements,” so I am sure there are exceptions–angels who invest broadly and VCs who like to keep their capital close to home. Joshua Siegel, one of the principals with Georgetown Angels, is looking for people to join the angel group he started with Andrew Romans. The pair are holding a pitch event at 1776 in September; I’ve got a link for discounted tickets to the event.

On a completely different note, Shavanna Miller is getting ready to launch Bloompop, a very cool sounding online floral marketplace. If you’ve ever struggled with wanting to buy flowers locally but needing the ease of ordering online, Shavanna’s your girl. She’s initially launching only in the District, but has her eye on other cities. The site allows you to create a profile and save “favorite” arrangements, and it will integrate with social media. So when Facebook tells you it’s my birthday, feel free to send me some white roses. 🙂

Finally, Rebecca Horton and Catherine Woodiwiss’s company, Trestles, is getting ready for an official launch. Trestles is a creative agency that helps individuals and businesses problem solve by using design strategies and cross-sector teams. They’re kicking off with a workshop at Canvas Co/work tomorrow night at 6 p.m. It’s free, but space is limited.

Finally, mark your calendars for the next …in the City event sponsored by Elevation DC. This quarter we’re talking Transportation in the City on September 25 at 1776. Donna Harris is a confirmed panelist. If you are a transportation startup and want to exhibit at the event, hit Rachel Kaufman up and let her know.


On the Writer’s Block This Month

Despite the fact that summer is often a quiet time for news, there has been a lot to talk about on the DC tech and job scene. The pace has been admittedly slower, or maybe it’s because I’m not rushing in to 1776 every other day to rub elbows with the scene-sters while I jockey for a drink. 

In physical space news, I wrote a piece on Canvas Co/work, a co-working space in the District. Co-working spaces mystify me because I have to write in almost complete silence in order to get anything done. You can ask anyone who knows me about my complete and utter disdain for loud crunchers in any sphere but especially when I am trying to write. But co-working is quite popular, what with the rents being so high in DC. 

Also in the space world, I wrote a piece nclud, a digital agency whose 3D flip book design blew my mind for more than a few minutes. 

Transportation continues to be a huge source of discussion in DC, and companies keep arriving to “disrupt” the status quo. Lyft, a peer-to-peer operations, is in some sort of public/private beta, and Taxi Magic just received the okay to operate as a digital dispatch service in the District–I was completely schooled in dispatching and the ins and outs of being part of a fleet, and how that is different in DC to other places in the country by Sanders Partee, who should really write a book on this stuff. 

Entrepreneurs are working hard to launch their brands, roll out useful products and services, and scale. Lauryn Sargent, in addition to being a new mom, helms Stories Inherited, which rolled out Origin Stories this summer. I met Mercedeh Kordestani and Stephanie L. Brown, who run IT IS SIMPLE, a service for teaching seniors how to use technology (e.g. not “reply all” to every email they receive). PlateDate, a Baltimore-based personal chef service, has expanded to the District. Micha Weinblatt, one of the founders over at Betterific, regaled me with all the goings-on with his digital suggestion box. Jason Weisenthal and I talked images: WallMonkeys scored access to National Geographic’s trove of images. Oh, and if anyone out there in Cyberland knows any Spanish-language app developers, Rick Gilchrist wants to meet you.

As usual, there are funding announcements to get excited about: ReelGenie closed an $850K seed round and Social Tables closed a round worth $1.6M. I also read this morning (or yesterday) that Speek, my favorite conference call alternative, raised $1.1M in bridge funding. Always good to know that the monkey with the crazy banana phone is working to make my life easier. For those startups that haven’t closed funding rounds yet, Georgetown Angels is hosting a pitch event in September at 1776. 

Finally, the District itself has thrown a little assistance to some worthy entrepreneurs. The Latino Economic Development Center and the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer awarded hardware and software to 21 small business owners in the District. On the side of lending expertise, ConnecTech, an outgrowth of the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development, is available to help small businesses navigate the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

In other news…I also had a cold reading of new script I’m working on. That was very exciting and I must give thanks to the wonderful readers who made my words come to life and gave me excellent feedback.