The Download: WeWorks opens the doors to two co-working spaces to the District


Edward Bush of WeWork sits a table at his company’s new space at 718 17th St. NW in Chinatown. WeWork has also opened a space at 641 S St. NW in the Shaw neighborhood. (Rachel Couch of A Muse Photography)

The District added two more co-working spaces last Monday when WeWork, a national chain of start-up offices, officially opened venues in Chinatown and Shaw.

Combined, the two sites provide 54,000 square feet of office space that can accommodate up to 900 members. Those members can include start-ups of less than 21 employees, budding entrepreneurs or freelancers.

“WeWork plugs right into this concept of the sharing economy by providing a place where start-ups, small businesses and freelancers can become a community, constantly getting better together,” co-founder and chief executive Adam Neumann said.

Rental prices fluctuate depending on the location and size of the business. A basic membership, which includes the right to reserve a desk and access amenities, costs $45 per month. Office space for a six-person upstart will set you back $2,850 in Shaw or $3,300 a month in Chinatown.

Washington is no stranger to co-working spaces, and they have had varying degrees of success. The group 1776 bills its campus as a community hub for start-ups that includes classes, social events, pitch competitions and access to mentors. On the other hand, the co-working space GeekEasy closed its doors after just a few months.

“We know that Washington, D.C., is far more than a political city, and we want to enable the growing business community not only through our beautiful spaces that offer awesome amenities, but also through access to a community that will enable D.C. start-ups to be better together,” Neumann said.

WeWork boasts 16 locations in six cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

TrackMaven nabs $6.5M

District-based TrackMaven, the maker of software that allows companies to track competitors’ marketing efforts, has raised $6.5 million from New Enterprise Associates and other investors, executives announced last week.

Founder Allen Gannett said the Series A round will allow the start-up to grow its employee head count to 50 from 15 over the next year, adding positions in both sales and product development.

“Right now, we’re in the process of looking for a new office,” Gannett said. “We’re going to stay in downtown D.C., and through the year, we’ll launch a lot of interesting, new, secret products and features.”

TrackMaven’s software allows companies to compare the performance of their marketing campaigns to that of competitors by determining the online channels where rival firms are successfully reaching consumers.

Its clients hail from a variety of industries, including insurance, media, technology, nonprofits, think tanks and sports, Gannett said. He declined to say how many customers TrackMaven has attracted to date.

What do marketers care about at the moment? Gannett said marketers spent much of 2013 creating their own content — articles, videos, photo galleries, etc. — that they can spread around the Web. Now, they want to make those efforts more effective.

For example, January’s polar vortex gave insurance companies an opportunity to create marketing materials disguised as news-you-can-use articles about how consumers can prepare their homes or vehicles for the cold weather.

Gannett said marketers face a challenge when it comes to tailoring those items to the plethora of places where consumers gather information online — news organizations, mobile apps, social networks, digital videos, e-mail, etc.

“They’re trying to keep up with a consumer base [that] is constantly changing what they’re interested in,” Gannett said.

The fresh infusion of cash builds on $1.25 million in venture capital TrackMaven announced last May at the time of its launch.

Several of the upstart’s initial investors participated in the recent round, such as Bowery Capital and Acceleprise, the District-based enterprise technology accelerator where Gannett is a partner. Other backers include former EmployInsight chief executive Sean Glass, former Condaptive chief executive Hemang Gadhia and former Shutterstock president Adam Riggs.

NEA General Partner Harry Weller, who has previously invested in Groupon, Cvent and SourceFire, will join TrackMaven’s board of directors. Other board members include Glass and former Eloqua CEO Joe Payne .

Tech festival 2.0

The District-based hub for start-up companies, 1776, will play host to a week-long technology festival in May. The event coincides with the finals of its international start-up contest called Challenge Cup.

The Challenge Festival effectively replaces Digital Capital Week, another week-long technology festival that organizers announced last May would no longer take place after three years. That event’s principal organizers, Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs, are helping to put on the Challenge Festival.

The event runs from May 10 to 17. It will feature a series of lunchtime and evening sessions focused on regulated sectors that 1776 believes are ripe for entrepreneurs to shake up, including education, energy and health care.

steven.overly@washpost.com

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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