I initially met Evan Burfield in the late 1990s when he was a young and rising star in the Washington, DC technology community.
My consultancy – Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) – was focused at the time on providing public relations services to venture capital backed start-ups that had set up shop along the Dulles Toll Road and I-270 corridor. We scored a pitch meeting with netDecide, the software company Burfield had founded soon after his high school graduation.
Fast forward 15 years and Burfield and I were both on the agenda at last week’s Digital East conference in Tysons Corner. I was there to talk Web2Sales and a new product launch by Strategic and our partner Rainmaker Associates.
Burfield was on hand to tout his latest initiative, a profile company called 1776 that provides work space, community, guidance and, at times, capital investment for technology start-ups in the region.
In a fast paced, 45 minute Q&A on the main stage, Burfield provided fascinating insight on the state of rising technology in Washington, DC. Here are a few of his observations:
The Business Case to Create 1776 and Its Mission
“9/11 adversely impacted the entrepreneurial community in the mid-Atlantic for a few years. The flood of money pulled talent and focus to homeland security.”
“Washington, DC has awesome convening power. Yet, there was not a single place in the city focused on bringing people together to turn ideas into viable businesses.”
“We want Washington, DC to be a global hub for start-ups tackling problems that really matter.”
Life as an Entrepreneur
“Being an entrepreneur is stimilar to the scientific process. It means finding a path to discover a profitable business with as little capital as possible. The best entrepreneurs formulate hypothesis, test features and funtionality, and refine. And they need to do it fast.”
“Everyone needs a well defined role in a start-up – hustler (sales), hacker (builds) and designer (makes it pretty). Anyone else is probably dead weight.”
“It has never been easier to start a company. It’s more expensive than ever to scale a business though because you need to think globally.”