This Historic House Will Change DC
It’s a historic mansion most Washingtonians have passed making their way into Georgetown. (You don't see it on the way out because you're staring at your empty wallet.) Now it’s just a few weeks away from transforming into a hub for social entrepreneurs.
S&R Foundation received interest from hundreds of potential applicants for its new Halcyon Incubator program and has narrowed the contenders to 14. The final handful of entrepreneurs, who will be announced in a few weeks, will live in the house for four months and turn their idea to solve social problems into for-profit or nonprofit ventures. The entrepreneurs pay nothing, get weekly one-on-one mentoring, and present their business plan to potential investors. The program’s new manager Ryan Ross, who we snapped yesterday at S&R’s Evermay Estate in Georgetown, says the applicants tackle a range of issues from helping nonprofits get better access to government data to solving environmental problems.
Halcyon House, at the corner of Prospect and 34th Street in Georgetown, was built by Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert in 1787. At one time Mark Twain’s cousin made renovations in the house and added some unusual elements like a staircase that went nowhere. (A metaphor for startup struggles?) The house is now being outfitted with conference rooms, lounge areas, presentation rooms, a large event space, and individual sleeping quarters. The entrepreneurs will continue working in the house after the four-month residency and then later get access to WeWork co-working space.
The house's view toward Rosslyn, Va. Ryan, who was biz dev director at democracy.com, says Halcyon Incubator has the potential to make DC a social entrepreneurship hub. It’s surprising that it’s not already, given the resources of the nation’s capital and the amount of people who come to DC with social missions, Ryan adds. The program isn’t modeled on any one incubator program but pieces of many. The residential piece is unique though and Ryan says it’s to help entrepreneurs through the financial challenge of launching a startup. Applications for the second wave of entrepreneurs will open in July and the fellowship will start in early 2015.