Government Love Of Startups Grows
A new incubator in Crystal City is drawing the attention of the government. But for all the right reasons.
Geoff Orazem recently launched Eastern Foundry to provide an incubation space for startups interested in doing government work. The ribbon was officially cut with Sen. Mark Warner this week. Nearly 30 companies are already in the space, taking up 21k SF, and paying $500 to $3k a month. Geoff, a former McKinsey associate and Marine, says they range from brand-new firms to ones that have been around for a while but wanted to be part of a community of like-minded businesses. Government officials have been talking to Geoff about learning more about the companies and how they navigate the notoriously difficult procurement process.
Geoff, who’s been in DC four years, was inspired to open Eastern Foundry after doing development work in Iraq and Afghanistan, setting up small transportation companies. He left his job at McKinsey to open a government contracting shop that would do similar work in economic development. Despite a military background and a strong resume, Geoff says he wasn’t prepared to deal with the administrative hurdles that go with government contracting. The incubator offers guidance in how to navigate the process. Tech startups have increasingly expressed interest in government work. TandemNSI, a program started this year to help startups connect with national security agencies, has over 2,500 members. Federal agencies have worked closely with the group to hear pitches from startups and offer guidance.
Eastern Foundry is leasing space from Vornado, a real estate firm working on creating a tech hub in Crystal City. Geoff, who borrowed (and already paid back) money from friends and family to launch the incubator, says for now, Eastern Foundry draws 95% of its revenue from charging companies rent and was designed to not initially take an equity stake. In February, the program will launch a government contracting certificate program – a multi-week, multi-year training package for people who want to get into contracting. Eastern Foundry will charge an undetermined fee for the program.