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By Brian Park

  The Ted Leonsis event blew out Startup Grind DC’s event capacity as one of the most popular speakers interviewed yet. Ted is a local hero in DC, a Georgetown graduate affectionately referred to as “Uncle Ted” by many of the young people who grew up with his kids. As the billionaire owner of the Verizon Center, he also owns the Caps and Wizards, making him one of the most popular DC residents.

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrYmX37mEmw] In February, Startup Grind DC had the honor of hosting Congressman Jared Polis (cofounder of TechStars, ProFlowers, BlueMountainArts.com). Often the tech and entrepreneurship community can feel overshadowed by the power and influence emanating from The Hill. While “Hill people” cloister in elegant Senate offices and old-style bars bowing off of K street, the area’s entrepreneurs coalesce in warehouses converted to coworking spaces and dive bars papered with stickers from former next-big-things. It’s a seismic event, then, when the DC tech and Hill communities can come crashing together over a double-threat like they did last February with Congressman Polis. Rep. Polis has been serving Colorado’s 2nd district since 2009. Prior to becoming a politico, Polis founded and successfully sold three technology companies. He is now a mentor with TechStars, a startup accelerator. Similar to our January speaker Alex Hawkinson, Polis grew up in an entrepreneurial family, learning sales from a young age. His first sell was BlueMountainArts.com, which he started with his parents using his father’s artwork to create online greeting cards. His second sell, American Information Systems, an internet access provider, went for $32 million. He immediately used the capital to found ProFlowers, an online florist. It was at that …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCzD96EOcmw&w=640&h=460]   There’s this thing that tech is talking about, this “Internet of Things”, this idea where suddenly everything we touch and use and see and turn on is connected. This “Internet of Things” is supposed to be the next wave, and surfing high on that wave was our January speaker at nClud, Alex Hawkinson. SmartThings is billed as a “smarter home” solution. Imagine this: You are laying in bed and as you awaken, your Jawbone wristlet sends a signal to your home center. The blinds open gently. You’re greeted by a voice letting you know your coffee is brewing, the towel warmer is heated, and but your kids are still curled up asleep. At $55 million Bill Gates spared no cost for his smarter home. Smart Things is revolutionizing the market charging only $300 for a DIY version.   SmartThings connect the everyday objects in your life The SmartThings kit isn’t a “smart home” plug-in – it’s more like a kit that turns your home into a computer. “There is a hub device, like a Babblefish”, explained Alex. “There are all these ‘things’ in your home, that can somehow talk to our platform. There’s about a thousand things …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYFKB-O3DHY&w=630&h=360]   For Startup Grind Washington DC’s 12th event at 1776, we had the pleasure of hosting Gary Shapiro, CEO of Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) just three weeks before CES 2014 in Las Vegas. With CES boasting to be the largest event in the United States (if not the world) with 300,000+ attendees, we were honored to host Gary for our anniversary event to close out 2013 (and yes, cake was served).   So, how did Gary come to lead the largest electronics showcase known to Earth? Like most entrepreneurs, Gary’s journey to tech titan was humble. Born into a family of teachers on Long Island, Gary learned how to make the most of a dollar through working various odd jobs as he grew up.   While at Georgetown University studying law, he needed a job to support his studies. After dabbling in politics, he started working at a law firm that introduced him to CEA and his first CES event. Gary worked closely with CEA, who was a client of the firm he worked for, which introduced him to newer electronics and advancements in technologies. He quickly fell in love with the vast exposure of tech and electronics in …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUhb47QbBXs&w=640&h=360] Startup Grind DC had the pleasure of hosting Tige Savage of Revolution Ventures at nClud. Tige’s event was a smashing success with almost 110 guests in attendance and Derek Andersen, the founder of Startup Grind, flew in from Palo Alto to do the interview.Revolution Ventures was started by Steve Case, David Golden and Tige in 2005 and just recently closed $200 million to focus on early stage venture capital investments in technology-enabled businesses that disrupt existing, multi-billion dollar industries. Tige grew up both on the east and west coast as a military brat, eventually landing in the DC area for high school where his father took a post in the Air Force as an Astro Physicist. Tige’s first job as a 14 year old teenager was at a computer store, and eventually he tried his hand at being an tech entrepreneur by writing software for the Atari computer and selling it. Apprenticeship – Find someone who will give you your big break Tige graduated from JMU, got married, and embarked on his first quest into “business” at a bank. In 1990 during the recession, Tige jumped onboard at a small regional bank which is now know as Riggs …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhFRxTFt0R4&w=640&h=460] Startup Grind DC had the pleasure of hosting Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com (not Microsoft), at 1776′s campus. Paul’s event was a smashing success with almost 120 guests in attendance.  Ancestry.com (NASDAQ:ACOM) is the largest geneology provider in the world with almost $400 million in revenues and 1,000 employees.   Paul grew up in Utah, one of eight siblings, learning all about computers and education from his father, eventually trying his hand at being an entrepreneur by building toys out of popsicle sticks and selling them for 50 cents. Paul’s creativity was sparked by spending lots of his free time in his youth playing Dungeons & Dragons, which led him to go on and attempt to build other things.   In 1988, Paul graduated from BYU, got married, and embarked on his first job – ever. Paul jumped onboard his brother’s small search engine company, Folio, and operated high-tech scanners for 6 months. This led him to become a data processing engineer for the company and fueled his passion for technology and information storage. By working in data, Paul became interested in compiling digital literature works onto CD-ROMs and selling it to schools and computer companies, until …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbHOxFP5y1o&w=640&h=360]   Startup Grind DC’s fall agenda kicked off with a strong start by hosting Scott Case, former CTO of Priceline.com and CEO of Startup America Partnership, at 1776. Scott was incredibly eager and funny from the start, quickly launching into the chat by explaining how his first taste of entrepreneurship began with cutting grass in Greenwich, Connecticut, and molding a landscaping business around that. This is where Scott believes that he realized the reality and hardships of starting a business, and went on from there. Startups are not for the faint of the heart. Regarding work/life balance in and around the workplace, Scott states that being an entrepreneur is “not for the faint of the heart.” You can have a good morning one minute, a horrible afternoon, and a great evening all on the same day; that is the nature of startups. By surrounding yourself with a good team of people, Scott agrees that it can help sustain a growing business. According to Scott, it’s the person behind it all that truly matters, for if a startup fails, “it’s not you that failed, but the startup.” Scott explored the meaning of “success” during this chat, which proved to …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkE81n5rls&w=640&h=360]     Earlier this month, Startup Grind NYC hosted Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo which is backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller.  Aereo uses antenna/DVR technology to let consumers watch live, local over-the-air television broadcasts and is in the midst of disrupting the cable television industry by offering it to millions of consumers. One can be forgiven for thinking that as CEO, Chet would be reserved, but he was no holds barred with his answers and gave great information to the audience. Startup Grind founder, Derek Andersen, flew in from Silicon Valley to moderate this truly spectacular evening.   “My Relationship with VCs Improved Significantly Once they Made Money Off of Me.”   The goal of most entrepreneurs is to grow a self-sustaining business or achieve a large exit. Chet had a substantial exit in 2008 for a “few $100 millions” when he sold Navic Networks to Microsoft before raising a seed round for Aereo in 2010. His outlook on funding was shaped by these two experiences and he now believes that, “the majority of companies are in $10M to $20M threshold. They are good companies, but not great VC or exit companies.”   “What Keeps You Up at Night? …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-Qmh708FUk&w=630&h=360]   Startup Grind Washington DC was happy to host the founder of MicroStrategy’s Sanju Bansal, at 1776 campus. A very data driven discussion with a lot of DC love.  MicroStrategy is a public traded company on the NASDAQ (MSTR) with almost $600 million in revenues with 3,200 employees worldwide and sells business intelligence, mobile software, and cloud-based services for some of the top Fortune 500 companies and technology companies in the world including Facebook, eBay, and Yahoo. So what was his life lessons as an entrepreneur?   “Ideas are easy. Execution is not.”   Sanju comes from a first generation Indian family – born in India, raised in DC. While studying engineering at MIT, Sanju became obsessed with the idea of cold coffee and its various recipes. After experimenting among his friends and family, Sanju found that distribution was his first fatal flaw in creating and executing a startup.  Sanju went on to talk about ideas versus execution, saying that ideas are a dime a dozen, whereas execution is the most important part.   “Always work with a cofounder who are smarter than you… which doesn’t necessarily mean your best friend”   During this time he met a fellow fraternity brother …

By Brian Park

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu-41YWwdY8&w=560&h=315]   Over 100 people showed up on July 18th at ThoughtWorks on what was undoubtedly the hottest night of the year. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the arrival of Esther Dyson. Murmurs rippled through the audience and questions abounded. Esther Dyson of EDventure Holdings is a former journalist and Wall Street technology analyst who is a leading angel investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and commentator focused on breakthrough innovation in healthcare, government transparency, digital technology, biotechnology, and space. Startup Grind NYC’s Neil Anderson shared a fireside chat with Esther and discussed her background, her take on the current startup environment and what she looks for when making an investment. Fostering the Scaling of Entrepreneurship A recurring topic during the night was how to scale a startup into a thriving business. As an investor and founder, Esther provided insight into what it takes to turn an idea into a successful company. Neil broached the question of the notion of opportunity costs because of the disparity between large corporations and start-ups and how this issue can be addressed. Esther responded that, “Little companies need scale, access to the big companies, training, and access to big markets.” The glut of startups …