One of the most pronounced needs for collaboration is between local entrepreneurs and large, well-established companies, said Evan Burfield, co-founder of the tech consultancy Synteractive and chair of Startup D.C.
“We need large companies to look to start-ups in the region as providers of technology,” Burfield said in an interview. “We need them to communicate what their needs are, because we have a lot of innovative people who can help.”
To that end, Jonathan Aberman, an investor with Amplifier Ventures and chair of Startup Virginia, said entrepreneurs need to stop networking with each other and get into real, directed discussions with large businesses about working together.
“D.C. entrepreneurs don’t need more networking,” he said in an interview. “The only way to solve this is to get CIOs to give round-tables and seminars about what their tech needs are.” He proposed reverse venture fairs, in which large companies could present their tech roadmaps to entrepreneurs.
Because small companies are more likely to be bought by large companies in their same geographic location, he also suggested that D.C. entrepreneurs should build applications that target prospective local acquirers, not Silicon Valley ones.
“A lot of local entrepreneurs don’t realize that they’d be better off building a company that would be interesting to Marriott and not Google,” he said. “Why would you build something that would be attractive to someone halfway across the country rather than across the street?”
Capital Business staff writer Steven Overly contributed to this report.
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