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June 6, 2014
Entrepreneur's Exit Interview
Attention vets with IT skills: The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) wants you! Attend the USPTO IT Veteran Hiring Fair, June 13 & 14. Meet hiring managers and new opportunities. Register here.
Vocus founder Rick Rudman officially quit his job Monday, just three days after selling his marketing software firm to GTCR for nearly $450M. He's now eyeing his next move, which could be anything from starting a new tech firm to launching an East Coast version of Y Combinator.
Rick, a Silver Spring, Md., native and father of four, says he's also interested in eye beacon technology, or there could be a taco shop in his future. He's not ruling anything out, and he's in no hurry to start anything new. (We hear the wife has a list of places to visit.) For now he's shying away from venture capital and angel investing and he describes himself as too impatient to serve on tech boards. He did spend about an hour reflecting on launching Vocus 22 years ago at CONNECTpreneur yesterday morning in Tysons. The quarterly networking event is organized by Tech 2000 CEO Tien Wong.
He started Beltsville, Md.-based Vocus after a 4-year Air Force career and studies at the University of Maryland. His career started as an accountant but it was the mid '80s and tech lured him. He and a friend, whose father loaned them $32k, developed grassroots advocacy software. It eventually added the PR piece to automate the process by which companies monitor what's being said about them and their competitors in the press and to connect them with reporters. Over time Vocus raised $30M in venture capital, went public in 2005, and grew to $186.9M in revenue last year and 16,000 subscribers. The company is now private and merging with Cision as part of the GTCR transaction.
So why leave? Rick, here with Tien, says he's more interested in growth and not focusing on a 5-year cost-cutting strategy. Plus a company can't have two CEOs or two CFOs. He says the future of the PR and digital marketing industry is stable and the concept of interacting with the press and the public won't go away. Rick's also not ruling out doing something philanthropic. He spent time in Malawi with Water for People, using mobile devices to map clean water sources. (If Malawi was on his wife's Places to Visit list, he could've killed two birds with one stone.) But he's still an entrepreneur at heart, so a philanthropic journey would likely involve him launching and running that venture.
DC's Pot of Tech $$
DC-based tech startups now have a new source of funding: the DC government. It kicked off a pilot of the Digital DC Tech Fund this week offering $1M in grants to tech startups located in a designated three-mile stretch of the city called the Digital DC Tech Opportunity Corridor. (Something tells us Pierre L'Enfant didn't name it that when he designed the city.) The grants will range from $25k to $200k and go to companies that commit to having an office, HQ, or major operation in between the intersections of 7th Street, NW, and New York Avenue, NW, to Kansas and Georgia aves, NW. It overlaps one and a half of two Great Streets corridors of 11 boundaries in the commercial revitalization initiative.
Outgoing DC business development and strategy director Jenifer Huestis Boss, here with former deputy mayor Victor Hoskins, says the area is attractive to tech startups for its restaurants, night life, housing, affordable and funky office space, and public transportation. Several DC tech companies are already at the base of the corridor, including Blackboard, LivingSocial, and Optoro. Jenifer says the fund, which is coming from the DC budget, was inspired by entrepreneurs who have long complained about the lack of funding for startups that have raised a friends and family round but aren't ready for bigger B or C rounds. The city also felt that it had invested in programs and resources to help early stage and more mature companies but nothing in between.
Jenifer, who's leaving the DC government for a job with Alvarez & Marsal, says this is the first time the city has done such a fund. The only thing that's come close was a $50M CAPCO fund to be spent over 10 years in all sectors. DC's new tech fund joins Virginia's CIT GAP funds and Maryland's Venture Fund and TEDCO. Several well-known entrepreneurs are on the Digital DC Tech Fund board, including SocialRadar and Blackboard founder Michael Chasen, Accenture global managing director Jay Hedley, and Lore Systems CEO Tien Wong. The deadline for grant applications is June 20.
Announcing: The Bisnow SuperSchmooze!
Every couple years, you veterans may remember, we put on a big pure networking and food event—so big we can only call it "SuperSchmooze!" The evening of June 12 is our next one. Bring your business cards and your appetite to the District Center downtown (555 12th Street). You'll find over 20 of DC's top restaurants, offering some of their best food. Plus, a big open bar. And you will find our readers from every local field of business: tech, law, association, finance, commercial real estate, and government, all converging for two hours of fun, food, and schmooze. Meet the chefs, then sign up!
Why Local Schools Should Matter
Just because Fairfax County ranks as the 5th richest in the country (according to Forbes) doesn't mean its schools couldn't use some love from the business community. Fairfax County Economic Development Authority CEO Jerry Gordon, snapped at a Bisnow event, is starting to introduce businesses to the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools, which was created by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce four years ago to raise funds for shortfalls in the school budget. Its first event was held this week in Tysons, where Jerry spoke about the business community's role in public schools. The tech community, he says, can help students who can't afford technology or kids who are interested in getting tech training.
Mixologist Madness—Next Thursday!
Are the words open bar and top-notch networking enough to entice you into spending an evening with us at our Super Schmooze on June 12? How about having 28 incredible chefs and the city's best mixologists, too?It's not a party without killer cocktails, so prepare to sip on something special from Marvin Mixologist Ferit Ozergul. You'll find him at the Marvin Gaye tribute bar on 14th Street slinging cocktails like the one we snapped of him making The Suzie, with fresh organic strawberries.
Marvin's next-door neighbor, The Gibson, will also be shaking and stirring drinks at Super Schmooze. We snapped Ted Freeseman stirring two drinks at the same time—so smooth. Ted says the best day to visit the swanky cocktail den is on Tuesdays. That's when you can try drinks inspired by a particular year's pop culture. June Tuesdays will showcase the year 1994, while July Tuesdays will take you back to 1976. Click here for more info and to sign up for Super Schmooze.
If you could own one tech gadget right now that you don't already have, what would it be? Tell Bisnow's Tania Anderson.