The entrepreneurial pull to Silicon Valley has nabbed two Washington area start-ups.
After six years in the District, property finder HotPads will relocate to San Francisco in July. Chief executive Matt Corgan said the new digs should make it easier to recruit engineers for his growing staff.
Meanwhile, D.C.-based mobile app developer PointAbout has sold off its consulting business to Three Pillar Global, and the remaining product development team will now call California home.
Both firms credit the Washington region with providing fertile ground to get their start and build a brand, but greener pastures lie west.
“I think that being out of the valley helped us a little because we were able to sit back and stay out of the limelight while we built a really cool product,” Corgan said. “But when it comes to hiring engineers, we find people [there] are a little bit more aware of the industry.”
Kevin Lenane, director of mobile strategy at PointAbout, said the company’s two divisions saw significant growth but in different directions. The consultancy fits with Washington’s fabric, but the product arm was out of place, he said.
PointAbout’s product team, now called Socialize, has built software for people to communicate within smartphone applications without using other social networks.
“The product is more the traditional valley product where you have a piece of R&D [research and development] technology that you’re building and seek investment, and hope for eventual large-company success or a purchase exit,” Lenane said.
The Angel Venture Forum has expanded into the Washington region, bringing with it a new crop of early-stage investors who want to fund fledgling businesses.
Valerie Gaydos, an angel investor with roots in Washington, will head the initiative. Start-ups apply to participate in the forum and those that are selected will be groomed over several months, culminating in pitches to investors in October.
“We love all the activity that is occurring in the region and we just want to supplement it by connecting some of the dots that are not connected,” Gaydos said. “As an angel investor myself, I believe the more the merrier.”
Though Silicon Valley Bank promoted a new regional director to the helm of its Southeast and Mid-Atlantic divisions, Megan Scheffel is no stranger to the Washington region.
Scheffel joined the Tysons Corner office in 2002 after stints in Austin and Santa Clara, Calif. The bank has 26 offices in the United States and four abroad, with total assets of $18 billion and deposits of $15 billion in the first quarter of this year.
The bank offers services tailored to the tech and venture capital communities. From her new view at the top, Scheffel said she sees more merger and acquisition activity as well as investors raising money for fresh deals.
“There is a pickup in firms closing on new funds and borrowing on the venture capital side,” Scheffel said. “So when there is a pickup in that, it’s usually a correlation to deals getting funded.”