What We Saw at DC Tech Day
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Yesterday, over 150 (mostly) tech startups descended on the National Building Museum to show what they're made of as part of the second annual DC TechDay. The event showed us entrepreneurship in the nation's capital is alive and well.
TechDay started in New York in 2011 and has spread to other tech hubs around the country. The companies in DC ranged from consumer apps and devices to enterprise applications and consulting services. Accelerator programs also had a corner of the exhibit floor. Here's just a tiny amount of what we saw.
Ursula Mead, with Motley Fool colleague Adam Hill, launched InHerSight this year to inform women of the best places to work. The site ranks companies all over the country. She says it's not only informative for women but also companies on how they can improve benefits like professional development and flexible work schedules. We spotted a few non-tech entrepreneurial companies like WaveBorn, which designs and sells sunglasses and donates a portion of profits to fund eye surgeries, and MuseumHack, a NY company that's expanded to DC to offer private, off-the-beaten-track museum tours.
Aviva Kamler recently graduated from American University and launched Shelf (after working on it for over two years) to help women keep track of their favorite beauty products and get information on the ingredients. The site and mobile app are focused on nail polish, but Aviva plans to expand to other types of beauty and baby products. Part of her marketing strategy is to recruit brand ambassadors on college campuses. She has 20 of them so far.
Spotluck marketing director Tom Nguyen showed us how consumers use the Bethesda company's app, which allows users to spin a wheel to get discounts at nearby restaurants. Restaurants can offer bigger discounts during slower times. The app has 200 establishments in the DC region, and Tom says it will expand to other cities like Philly and Chicago.
Social media posts with images go the most viral, says PostCreator founder Bill Replogle. So he launched a web app that allows people to create and post images on social media platforms. Those images can serve as a marketing tool with the company's logo embedded in one corner. Bill has spent a career in advertising but was inspired to launch PostCreator after his experience building an online golfing community. He noticed that anything he posted with an image (and his group's logo) got the most shares. He's talking to Flickr and Getty Images about getting access to their images through the app.