May 2016

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Last week I wrote of our region’s need for a Switzerland to allow our various resources and jurisdictions to be freer to compete to serve entrepreneurial innovation. By allowing those promoting entrepreneurial activities to pursue their specific self-interests, entrepreneurs would enjoy greater transparency. They would fully comprehend the motivations of those helping them and the overall level of resources available to entrepreneurs would be raised by the crucible of competition.

This argument has clearly hit a chord because the reactions from our community over the last week has been varied and strong.

Some have asked me whether I am suggesting there is no place for regional cooperation in the District, Maryland and Virginia. I am not. Cooperation among the three jurisdictions that make up the capital region is essential for our economy to grow — particularly in areas where our collective interests are served.

Examples of how regional cooperation is a must…

Read entire column at WashingtonPost.com.

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Like it or not, the greater Washington region is all about relationships. Our strength as a business community is our interconnections, and our ability to manage the complex interplay between business and policy. Our entrepreneurial community grows businesses through the exchange of information between those two worlds.

In other words, we need to network.

When we do the networking dance well, transactions occur as a result. Once a relationship is established, there is a very good chance it will bear fruit. It might be years from now, or it might be next week, but knowing how to connect with the right people — and be willing to enter into a win-win relationship — inevitably reaps rewards.

Successful networking relies on transparency. Think about how many times you have formed relationships understanding where a person is coming from. We better connect with those who are transparent with us, and who share both their strengths and needs in a candid, open way

You can call this trust. I believe it’s larger than that. I describe it as acknowledgment. By being transparent, you are treating others as respected co-venturers and clearly stating that you value their time. If they choose to engage with you, they know exactly why.

However, here in the greater Washington region, there’s a blurry area where common interests and unspoken goals intersect. Entrepreneurs often sense a conflict as they begin to…

Read entire column at WashingtonPost.com.

 

 

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On May 12, 2016, the D.C.-based 2030 Group — a coalition of influential, local business leaders exploring the potential for growth in the D.C.region — released a detailed, 53-page report about how the D.C.-area can evolve into a strong economic hub for innovative businesses. While progress has been made, the report describes that there is a significant amount of work left to secure the area’s status as a top destination for business, commerce and innovation.

Headed up by Amplifier Ventures’ Jonathan Aberman, the report makes some interesting and important points about how far the D.C. tech scene has come and also what needs to be done so that it succeeds in the future. Alongside this narrative is a methodical series of recommendations poised by the group, which may be applicable to both business owners and policy makers in the region.

Watch highlights of the report’s findings here.

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Back in the day, there were three high-tech corridors that defined the evolving frontier of American capitalism. There was Silicon Valley, of course, and there was Route 128 in Massachusetts. The third was the Greater Washington Region, stretching from Northern Virginia across state lines through D.C. into Montgomery County, Maryland and its fabled biotech culture.

That “day” did not end with the dot.com crash. Hardly. People still use computers and they want them smarter every year. The pace of medical and biotechnological innovation has only accelerated. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics now allure. If anything, the scope of innovation has exponentially broadened; cybersecurity, for instance, is a new realm unimagined by the visionaries who changed the world at the turn of this century.

Yet permanent revolution doesn’t necessarily mean permanent growth on a regional basis. Of the three aforementioned corridors, the Greater Washington Region has lost some luster and now finds itself in a unique and rather challenging situation.

“As the numbers show, our region’s entrepreneurship is not presently being driven by venture capital,” says Jonathan Aberman, founder of McLean, Va.-based Amplifier Ventures, a group of consulting and investment management businesses. “It was more in the 1990s, when we were ground zero for the Internet and telecommunications explosion, that the venture money poured in and job growth accelerated. Over the last ten years, innovation has turned more towards the government, particularly cybersecurity and healthcare.”

Read entire story at Forbes.com.

 

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The local entrepreneurs who landed an investment from billionaire Mark Cubanon ABC’s “Shark Tank” for their fitness app Sworkit didn’t end up closing the deal — agreeing to disagree on several deal points, including how to value the startup.

Ben Young, CEO of parent company Nexercise Inc., and Greg Coleman, its president and chief operating officer, garnered attention in February for securing what they called the biggest tech deal in the show’s history. Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and chairman of AXS TV, would invest $1.5 million in return for 10 percent of the business, plus $1.5 million worth of unsold ad inventory on the app.

Read entire article at Washington Business Journal’s website.

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The greater Washington business community is suffering from the story it is telling about itself, that it is in an old-fashioned government town, dependent on federal contracts, and lacking innovation and fresh ideas.

The reality is very different. Over the past six months, I worked with a multidisciplinary team of data scientists, economists and entrepreneurs to critically and objectively describe the state of technology entrepreneurship here for the 2030 Group, a civic and business organization working to plot a new path forward for the region’s economy.

Our findings suggest much more possibility. Since 2004, this area has created more new businesses than have parts of the United States commonly considered entrepreneurial hotbeds. Over the past 20 years, our region has had the largest number of companies on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing businesses.

This is a place where entrepreneurs, employees and investors are generously rewarded for growing successful businesses. Over the past 20 years, 6,000 businesses have been sold in the region, including 105 deals with sales prices exceeding $1 billion. Business sales create significant wealth in our region for subsequent investment.

This good news is mitigated by the reality that…

Read entire article at WashingtonPost.com.

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On Thursday, the D.C.-based 2030 Group—a coalition of influential, local business leaders exploring the potential for growth in the D.C.-area—released a detailed, 53-page report about how the D.C.-area can evolve into a strong economic hub for innovative businesses. While progress has been made, the report describes that there is a significant amount of work left to secure the area’s status as a top destination for business, commerce and innovation.

Headed up by Amplifier Ventures’ Jonathan Aberman, the report makes some interesting and important points about how far the D.C. tech scene has come and also what needs to be done so that it succeeds in the future. Alongside this narrative is a methodical series of recommendations poised by the group, which may be applicable to both business owners and policy makers in the region.

In order to construct this report, more than 120 individuals from the local entrepreneurial community were interviewed.

Read the whole article at DCInno.

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For the past six months, I have been working with a multi-disciplinary team to use research and data to paint an accurate picture of innovation in our region.

It turns out that the months of digging and analysis have proven at least three things: the Greater Washington Region is way more entrepreneurial than we think it is, there is a unique, wildly successful “DC Model of Entrepreneurship” and … we are at risk of losing out if we don’t make swift changes to how we capitalize on what the region has to offer.

Please read the findings here.

I am looking forward to hearing from the Greater Washington Community on ways to use the newly-compiled data to secure a strong innovative entrepreneurial community that will attract and keep high-paying jobs.

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Greater Washington builds great startups – we just can’t keep them here.

Over the past 20 years, 105 D.C. area startups were sold for more than $1 billion, but only 16 of those deals kept the businesses in the region, according to a new report examining innovation in the D.C. area. And out of 6,000 business sales over the last 20 years, about 75 percent were to out-of-region purchasers.

Recent examples include the $1.65 billion purchase of Cvent Inc. by San Fransisco-based private equity firm Vista Equity Partners and the $532 million purchase of Opower Inc. by California-based Oracle Corp.

And when these companies are bought, it’s common for the acquirers to shift those workforces to other cities. More importantly, the executives and leaders who are able to start new companies often go with them, leading to the loss of top talent for the region.

So can the region create the entrepreneurial, innovative businesses it needs to spur growth? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer requires the business community to get involved by prioritizing local acquisitions, forming a new innovation entity and focusing on cutting-edge research to stay ahead of…

Read entire news article at WashingtonBusinessJournal.com.

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