Last week, we hosted our second Fireside Chat event to discover the perks available to starting your company in Washington DC. Our Fireside Chat series is our invite-only event for founders that aims at providing tangible and useful information to help improve your business' top or bottom line today. We always keep it casual with a 30 minute Q&A and then time to catch up with other awesome founders and enjoy some (free) food, thanks to our generous sponsor Cushman & Wakefield.
In our chat we discussed just how incredible it is to call your company's home "Washington DC." I mean, our neighbors are the President and the First Lady of the United States. If you are going to get something done in this country, you come here. Just two weeks ago, The White House hosted one of the largest events in history focusing on the empowerment of women in business, innovation, and education; and for the second year in a row, SmartAsset named Washington DC number 1 for women in technology. It's never been a better time to be a female founder in the District, and our Fireside Chat highlighted some of the perks DC can provide our companies:
Tip 1: The DC government offers some great money-saving incentives to tech founders
Tiffany Thacker, Senior Director of Technology and Entrepreneurship at the Washington DC Economic Partnership, told us about the amazing DC-specific incentives available to tech founders, including:
Tip 2: Small companies should consider subleases to avoid getting trapped in long-term leases when they're still growing quickly.
Depending on the situation, commercial subletters can get a discount from the original lease. Jessica Miller, Director of the Tenant Advisory Group at Cushman and Wakefield, warned that tenant representatives that are trying to encourage 5 year leases might not have your best interest at heart. Good tenant representatives will think through the long game with their founders, helping them find bigger spaces as their company grows.
Tip 3: If you're going to need office space, start looking early.
According to Jessica, it can take several months to find and lease the perfect office space. She recommended reaching out at least 3 months before you're ready to move, or even before you start considering it. Tenant representatives like her take their commission from the seller, not the company— there is no cost to founders to work with them so you don't have to worry about hourly fees before you're ready to move into office space.
Tip 4: Find a mentor.
Both Jessica and Tiffany recommended finding a mentor that can help guide you through the DC ecosystem— preferably someone who has done it all before and is well-networked enough to connect you to others. AccelerateDC is a great place to start.
Tip 5: Know when its time to get your own office space.
One of the major items we discussed was when it was appropriate to consider growing your business beyond your home and shared office spaces. Jessica Miller of Cushman & Wakefield provided some great guidelines:
It was a great morning with some great founders. Looking forward to our next Fireside Chat in September!
Interested in receiving an invite to our future Founders-Only Fireside Chats? Email firstname.lastname@example.org