United States

Washington, D.C. #11

"The greater D.C. region is beginning to get more attention from Silicon Valley and New York City investors. Cyber continues to be a major player, along with other tech sectors benefiting from the growth of Amazon’s HQ2. Food services, hospitality, healthcare, and other sectors are also gaining traction."

Jack McDougle
President and CEO, Greater Washington Board of Trade
Top 10 Global Ecosystem in Talent & Experience
Top 10 North American Ecosystem in Funding
Top 5 North American Ecosystem in Talent & Experience

Highlights

Washington, D.C. may be more well known for politics than for entrepreneurship, but the U.S. capital has been gaining a reputation as a startup hub. The ecosystem benefits from a growing tech talent pool and proximity to federal government departments, as well as an abundance of Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in the area.


Investors have taken notice. Companies in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia region raised $4.9 billion in 334 deals in 2021, more than double the $1.96 billion raised in 2020. The top five deals in 2021 alone amounted to more than $800 million. Robotic Research Group/RR.IA’s December deal for $228 million was by far the largest amount raised in D.C. in 2021.


In March 2021, Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities, led by Break Through Tech and SecondMuse, in partnership with Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, launched GET DC as its next city hub, working to propel more women and marginalized groups into tech careers. In January 2022 the D.C. regional chapter of the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), founded by a group of Indian American entrepreneurs, announced the second TiE DC University PitchFest for university students across the region.


The ecosystem also hosts DC Startup Week, an annual conference for the region’s entrepreneurial community, and SATELLITE, a top conference for space and satellite thought leaders.

Ecosystem by the Numbers

EARLY-STAGE FUNDING
(2019H2-2021)
$2.2 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$687 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(2019H2-2021)
$56 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$28.6 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$775 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$671 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$6.2 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2021)
$88 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$46 k
29 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
11.3 bn
516
GLOBAL AVG.
101
Amount ($)
Count (#)

Exits

(2017-2021)
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH TIER (2018/19 VS. 2020/21)
4
Calculated on a scale of
1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2017-2021)
$13 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.5 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2017-2021)
10.5 years
GLOBAL AVG.
9.4 years

Sub-Sector Strengths

Edtech

Education is one of the largest and most important industries in D.C., accounting for $3.9 billion of GDP. In October 2021, Edtech giant Blackboard merged with software company Anthology in an effort to create the most comprehensive and modern Edtech ecosystem available. Class Technologies has raised a total of $164 million in funding over four rounds, including a $105 million Series B in July 2021.

Cybersecurity

The Washington, D.C. region has become a leading Cybersecurity industry cluster, thanks in part to its proximity to the national security agencies that frequently serve as customers for local Cybersecurity startups. Data protection company Virtru has raised a total of $139.8 million over six rounds, including a $60 million Series C in January 2022. AI-powered DNS threat protection startup DNSFilter raised a $30 million Series A in July 2021.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to Washington, D.C.

Government Support

In December 2021, the DC REACh initiative was launched to promote financial inclusion for underserved communities, small businesses, and residents through greater access to credit and capital. It aims to remove structural barriers to capital and credit, and create solutions that help more Washingtonians buy homes, start businesses, and build wealth.

Tech Talent

The Washington, D.C. area is one of the most educated metropolitan areas in the U.S, with 51.4% of adults obtaining bachelor’s degrees or higher. The ecosystem also boasts one of the highest concentrations of STEM professionals in the country, according to CBRE’s 2021 Scoring Tech Talent report. The region has the fourth-largest tech talent labor pool in North America, with more than 265,000 tech workers making up 8.8% of the total workforce. Women make up 32.3% of the tech workforce, which compares favorably with the national average of 27%.

Selected Startup Organizations

Startup Genome
Partners

1863 Ventures
Acceleprise
Beacon DC
Conservation X Labs
DC Fashion Foundation
Halcyon Incubator
PeaceTech Accelerator
Village Capital
Women’s Business Center (DCWBC)

Featured Articles from
Local Ambassadors

Steven Rodriguez
Steven A. Rodriguez is Managing Director and Founder of SUEGO™ and Chief Culture Officer at BloomShift™. He co-leads various ESHIP programs through his non-profit InnovateCoalition™; is a Business Development & Digital Marketing Mentor & Contributor for WeWork Labs and Coach for the DC Department of Employment Services Innovation Lab; and is a Board Member to the International Council on Trade and Development.
Steven Rodriguez | Ambassador
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