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In First Quarter, $197 Million Invested in Local Businesses

Monday, April 30, 2007

Three Notre Dame roommates thought it would be cool to start a company together. So they created online mapping software, moved to Washington (it seemed like a fun place to be), and started a Web site where apartment-hunters can search for rental properties across the country.

HotPads.com got its start in 2004 with about $200,000 in seed money from the roommates' friends and family, and officially launched a year later. This month the firm landed $2.5 million from Meakem Becker Venture Capital, based outside Pittsburgh. The company's eight employees, along with their office mascot -- a dog named Dora -- work out of a Dupont Circle townhouse. Douglas Pope, the oldest of the founders at 26, said HotPads now has more than 33,000 listings.

Alan Veeck, a partner with Meakem Becker, said he was impressed with the entrepreneurs' vision. And regardless of the condition of the residential housing market, he said, "everyone will always need a place to live."

Venture capitalists are hoping people will also feel the need for anti-piracy software from Arxan Technologies in Bethesda, disease diagnostic products from Panacea Pharmaceuticals in Gaithersburg and updates about local sports teams from Digital Sports in Columbia.

These companies are among the recipients of $197 million in venture capital in this region in the first three months of the year. The list on the next page was compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Financial. The amounts range from $75,000 to $20.5 million. If nothing else, the list would be a good place to begin a count of all the start-ups with canine mascots. So far, the tally stops at one.

-- Kim Hart

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