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Tech Bisnow (DC)

Best Startups in DC?

RMA Limo's new app, version 2.808: for pickups and drop-offs, you can now enter names of places as well as street addresses; airport selection list is now sorted by proximity to your current location. Download here.

The four hottest startups in DC were crowned this week, at least according to the DC Challenge Cup. They'll hit the global stage next May to compete against startups from all over the world, but we caught up with them first.

EdBacker, which won the "education" category, consolidates all the activities needed to run a PTA into a single platform, from fundraising to putting together a newsletter. Founder Gary Hensley, middle, with colleagues Mary Ellen Matheson and Cliff Andrews, says the company started a few years ago as just a fundraising tool but realized PTAs needed more. The company, which has been housed in 1776 since it opened its doors, has individual school and state PTAs as customers. The three-person company has raised some friends and family money and is now raising a $500k seed round. It's also wooed DC serial entrepreneurs like Michael Chasen and Craig Cummings to its advisory board and as investors. 

Daniel Swartz

1EQ took home the "healthcare" award for its Babyscripts product. Co-founder Anish Sebastian (not pictured) says it lets obstetricians remotely monitor pregnancies without having to examine the patient in the office. (Co-founder Juan Pablo Segura presented the business to Challenge Cup judges earlier this week.) The provider, which pays $200-$350 per patient, can see if a pregnancy goes from low-risk to high-risk by collecting blood pressure and weight readings from Bluetooth and WiFi-enabled devices. Launched over a year ago, the DC startup is working with George Washington University Medical Faculty associates and Duke Medicine. The seven-person company has raised $1.1M from DC area angels. 

BaseTrace, the "energy" winner, is developing a technology that applies DNA biotechnology to energy issues. Co-founder Justine Chow Kmiecik says liquid tracers (seen here) created by the company can be added to fluid to track potential contaminants in drinking water. Founded in 2012, the five co-founders, based in Research Triangle Park, NC, met at Duke while studying environmental management. The company has one alpha customer and a testing partner, both nuclear power plant companies. 

Daniel Swartz

Local Roots Farms, the "cities" winner, developed an urban indoor farming system that can grow produce year-round using hydroponics. The company, co-founded by Dan Kuenzi, works with produce buyers, retailers, distributors, and hospitality firms to explore options for integrating local, indoor agriculture solutions into their product offerings. Local Roots also works with policy councils and outreach programs to teach youth about local farming.

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Getting Ahead With IoT

Intelligent Decisions and Infinite Skyz just inked a partnership to offer federal agencies Internet of Things solutions. Intelligent Decisions, an Ashburn-based systems integrator, wants to get in front of what it sees as one of the hottest trends in the next 18 months. For Infinite Skyz, a startup launched in 2011, the partnership gets it in the federal space. The strategy is to first go after health care agencies. Infinite Skyz VP Elizabeth Drake says the VA would be an obvious target by being able to monitor patients in their homes. The Houston-based company developed a "black box" hardware that sits in a patient's home and sends blood pressure and other health info to the health provider. 

Intelligent Decisions sales VP Rhett Butler says the federal opportunities could include helping CDC monitor quarantined rooms, making GSA's buildings more efficient by monitoring energy usage, and helping USPS and any agencies with vehicle fleets to cut costs by tracking mail trucks and their fuel use.  Elizabeth adds that RFID and GPS signals can be used for near field communications, so an RFID badge on a care provider could track their comings and goings, where they were in a patient's house, and provide accountability and traceability. Cisco estimates the IoT market to hit $19T by 2020, with 50 billion objects connected to the Internet. 

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Figure Out Crowdfunding

It's not Halloween, but we're ready to give something away for free. (Costume optional.) We're no Spielberg or Weinstein, but Bisnow has produced a 30-minute video that helps explain the appeal of crowdfunding your investors for real estate development. (Think many small investments rather than hunting for that big fish.) We think it's a fascinating topic and suspect you'll agree by the end of this interview with Fundrise head Ben Miller. Enjoy!

Halcyon Welcomes Second Wave of Social Entrepreneurs

S&R Foundation's Halcyon Incubator is bringing in its second class of fellows this week. The entrepreneurs are focused on social causes and are tackling everything from West African digital libraries and sustainable gardening to shipping containers and ex-inmate re-entry web portals. The 14-month program gives them rent-free housing in this swank Georgetown mansion, owned by S&R Foundation founders, access to potential funders, mentors, and help with strategy, legal, and PR. The program does not require equity in the ventures. Local Roots, mentioned above, is one of the nine companies in the second class. 

Where are the best places to go apple picking outside of DC? Tell Bisnow's Tania Anderson



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