Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. is not only known as the nation’s capital, but as the world’s 7th best city for women entrepreneurs.

Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital and the principal city of America’s 6th largest metropolitan area. The 2017 Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index ranked it the 7th best city in the world for women entrepreneurs. In April 2017, nearby Alexandria, part of the metropolitan area, was declared the best city for entrepreneurs in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine. Additionally, D.C. landed at 17th in the “Access to Resources” category on WalletHub’s 2017 list of the best large cities to start a business in.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Washington D.C.’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A group designed to inspire new entrepreneurs and help them get their feet off the ground as they begin their entrepreneurial journey

Regular networking meetings held just outside of D.C. in Silver Springs, MD

Organizes and hosts monthly talks from local entrepreneurs who have found success

A large networking group that holds regular meetings for younger entrepreneurs in the D.C. area

A group of female business owners who network and share the secrets they’ve found to help each other be successful

Hosts weekly meetings centered around applying Biblical principles to entrepreneurship

Networking events hosted by the Launch Workplaces co-working space on the edge of the D.C. metropolitan area in Gaithersburg, MD

Monthly meetings geared towards online business owners

Their monthly events are designed to educate and connect aspiring entrepreneurs and are open to the public for free


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Quarterly meetings with networking opportunities, speakers, and showcases of new and emerging startups

An annual week-long event held every year to celebrate entrepreneurship

This annual entrepreneurial conference is hosted by George Washington University every October

Hosts some regular events and an annual conference with the goal of advancing entrepreneurship

The sustainability, ethics, and entrepreneurship conference is sponsored in part by Colorado State University’s College of Business but is hosted in the nation’s capital

Conferences hosted in Washington D.C. where tech entrepreneurs can network with each other as well as possible investors


Startup Competitions:

DC Startup Week is home to the 7 Minutes in Heaven pitch competition, which gives entrepreneurs 3 minutes to pitch their idea followed by a 4 minute Q&A session

The finals of the global pitch competition are held during a multi-day event in Washington, D.C.

An annual business plan competition open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni of George Washington University


Co-working Spaces:

AdvantEdge offers a number of different options for workplaces in their locations downtown and near Maryland just inside the D.C. border

This pet-friendly space offers several membership plans to meet specific needs as well as access to games like ping pong and pool

Carr has locations all across the country, with several in D.C. and the surrounding states

5 of Cove’s 7 locations are spread out around Washington, D.C.

Located east of the river, The Hive offers 3 membership levels and hosts workshops and networking events that are open to the public

Locale offers day passes, a bundle of 10 day-passes for a discount, and monthly memberships to meet the needs of anyone who wants to work there

8 of Make Office’s many nationwide locations are in or around the nation’s capital

Metro Office has several locations and offers a flex desk plan or a private office as well as the ability to rent meeting rooms by the hour

The NoMa neighborhood in Washington is the location of Spaces’ D.C. office

WeWork is home to 10 distinct co-working offices in and around Washington, D.C.



The Washington, D.C. public library offers a small makerspace with some equipment for use and programs for people of all ages

Located just down the road from the Capitol Building, Fab Lab DC is a fabrication laboratory and workshop

HacDC has a wide variety of electronic equipment available for members to use

A 10,500 square foot makerspace located just outside of D.C. in Reston, VA



An incubator with original roots in Washington, D.C. that connects startups to the resources they need to succeed

Connects entrepreneurs with inventors and capital in order to build startups around new technologies

With a number of locations around the country, GDI invests in and helps launch startups focused on social impact and positive change

An 18-month fellowship program to help early-stage social startups find success

Focused on inclusion, innovation, and incubation, In3 offers co-working space as well as several programs to help startups succeed

Offers a 5-day boot camp as well as an evening and full-time program to help startups succeed

A culinary incubator that includes an 8,000-square foot workspace full of equipment for aspiring chefs to use


Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?



Washington, D.C. is home to one branch of Bunker Labs, which supports military veterans and their spouses by helping them create small businesses

With accelerator programs across the globe, C5 invests in technology-based startups

Provides networking and resources from both government and industry leaders to technology companies trying to change the way government runs

With locations in New York and D.C., GP Ventures invests in early-stage consumer software and products

An accelerator program for female-led health startups, with separate tracks for life sciences and digital health companies

A combination incubator and accelerator program for culinary startups in Washington, D.C.

Invests in new technologies with the aim of spreading peace

Partners with food companies and connects them to the resources and capital they need to become successful businesses


Colleges / Universities:

AU’s Center for Innovation offers programs for undergraduates and graduate students as well as an incubator program for students and recent alumni

The GWU Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a number of courses and resources to students, alongside concentrations available to students in both the School of Medicine and School of Business

Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business boasts an extensive entrepreneurship center that provides courses, programs, resources, and events for students


Angel Groups / VCs:

A venture capital firm that invests in early-stage startups in the technology and healthcare industries

With locations in D.C. and Virginia, Angel Venture Forum is a group of angel investors throughout the Mid-Atlantic that typically work with early-, growth-, and expansion-stage companies

A venture capital firm that invests in early-stage tech-related startups in the Mid-Atlantic region

An angel investment group for early-stage technology companies in a variety of industries

New Dominion Angels doesn’t limit the industries they invest in, but they typically work with startups focused on software as a service or the Internet of Things

Headquartered in D.C., Paladin Capital invests in technologies or services that benefit the public and private sectors

Venture firm that invests in companies using technology and new business ideas to succeed in a variety of industries

Located just outside of D.C. in Chevy Chase, TDF Ventures generally invests in early-stage companies in infrastructure, software, and services industries


A Glimpse Into Thinking Like an Angel Investor


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

BEACON aims to help female entrepreneurs succeed and thrive in D.C. and offers updates and information through their newsletter

Start DC recently launched a monthly newsletter focused on female-led startups and small businesses in the nation’s capital

The Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership aims to support economic development in D.C. and offers an e-newsletter with options to get updates on small business and tech news


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Washington, D.C. not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Chattanooga, TennesseeSalt Lake City, UtahSan Diego, CA

Article by Quinn Pilkey

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.