Over the past few weeks I have become increasingly focused on one of my goals: creating an environment that is comparable to Silicon Valley right here in Washington, D.C. On a daily basis I consider moving out to the valley to become more involved but instead I decide to stay here. Why? It’s much more exciting to watch this city transform into something incredible (in regard to technology) then go to Silicon Valley where I know what I’m going to get. So how do we create such an environment in D.C.?
Well, it’s already underway. There are events popping up all over and people are starting to become more active. The one issue that I see is that a large portion of the community is not locally active. While I can’t tell you why that is, I know it’s the case. There are investors who are quietly involved but they seem to be hesitant to become active in the community. What are the components of a successful technology community? I think there are a few components:
- Technology enthusiasts
- Technology journalists In discussing Lunch 2.0 with my new friend Isaac a couple days ago, Isaac brought up a good point: there is not enough coverage of events in Washington, D.C. by the local press. Why is that? Perhaps we are failing to do enough public relations. Why wasn’t there a Washington Post article about the recent Barcamp or any of the other technology events that have occurred? A few of the local tech companies are successful with coverage but there are bigger things happening. I have met a number of local companies that are now significantly invested in Facebook application development. So invested that it is now their core business model. Is such a shift in the technology environment not news worthy? I think is.
When we launched Tech Cocktail early this year, finding local sponsors was a difficult (if not impossible) task. The majority of the sponsors came from companies that have significant presences in other cities. Barcamp was the first event that I saw with actual local sponsors. So I guess there is forward motion. Rather than continuing my diatribe about what’s wrong with the existing environment, I will simply suggest a few things that I think can be done to continue the motion that is present:
- More press! - Every event deserves a press release. There needs to be more outreach to local journalists. Right now there isn’t.
- More investor outreach - There is a lot of money locally that is looking to be invested in new technology companies. For some reason the people that are investing that money are not showing up to events.
- More sponsorship - It should be a duty of every local tech company to sponsor the local events. Period. I know there are companies that have sponsored local events but perhaps we should be compiling a list of companies that are willing to donate even $50 to an event. Those three things will help further the progress that has already been made over the past year. There are a lot of events that have been popping up and it will be great to see even more. I am excited for the future of technology in D.C. but I think there needs to be a bigger push for coverage. What do you think? I surely don’t have all the answers.