It’s been a little under five months since we launched the first version of ProudlyMadeInDC, a website that has helped shed light on the growing startup community in DC. It’s received more media attention and traffic than I expected when it was built. Since then, we’ve launched two additional initiatives – the DC Tech Meetup (800 attendees expected for next week) and DC Tech Summer (over 400 interns applied in one week). ProudlyMade remains our flagship destination, as well as the biggest time commitment.
In terms of hard costs, PMiDC is relatively cheap. It is however a huge time commitment. We have companies to review and add all the time. All day long, entrepreneurs, VCs, and established companies are reaching out to us asking how to get involved, to vet their ideas, and what they can do to help the community. It is an incredibly exciting thing to do, but when you’re building a startup while already running a successful business, and in general trying to find time to enjoy life a bit, the opportunity cost is high.
So why do it?
Main Reason: If I can do everything I can to make DC a great place to build and grow a startup, then that increases the chance that anything I create here will succeed. I could move somewhere else to do that, and that’s never out of the question, but I’m here now.
Secondary Reason: These are my friends, coworkers, collaborators. I’m lucky to personally know so many awesome founders in the region. As anyone who’s been in an entrepreneurial community for a while, the peer support is amazing. This is one of the best ways I can think of supporting the community.
Secondary Reason: I started out in the community knowing no-one, and am always out there to discuss ideas, work through problems, and figure out the best way to help each other. I want to know everyone in the community, to work with them, discuss ideas, maybe get funding. Having a central role gives me that visibility into the community.
I’m Not Doing it for Money: Sure, I want my startup to succeed and be profitable. But I’m not here to make any money directly off the community. A lot of people, after an article is published or a big meetup, will reach out to me inquiring to me about my services. I’m not accepting new clients at this time, no matter how much you ask. That being said, as our initiatives grow and become more of a time commitment, that may change in order to better balance our time.
We just had a great meeting yesterday regarding the next steps in the community, and have a product in the works to support it. Just wait and see. People Discovery + Social White Pages FTW.