Sean Glass, Allen Gannett, and Collin Gutman’s idea started simply: foster a community. They could sense that there was an opportunity around enterprise software, but the idea for Acceleprise didn’t come into being until local DC businesses caught wind of their plans. “I was surprised with how many high quality companies we had heard from within the first week. I wanted to build a community around the entrepreneurs that I invest in. But quickly we could tell we were onto something bigger,” says Glass, one of Acceleprise’s founders as well as CEO and co-founder at EmployInsight.
This new DC-based accelerator will be taking full advantage of being in the backyard of the world’s biggest purchaser of enterprise software – the federal government. Don’t forget all of the associations, including lobbyists, that the region plays host to as well.
And although DC doesn’t have The Valley ‘s reputation for late stage funding, the reality is that the venture capital scene in the nation’s capital doesn’t get the respect it deserves – with Novak Biddle, NEA, Columbia Capital, and Grotech Ventures leading the charge. “This perception often results from people not being familiar with the capital sources in the region,” adds Glass.
And although enterprise software doesn’t garner the same kind of excitement as consumer facing products, you wouldn’t know it by talking to the Acceleprise team. “The future of this space is open,” says Collin Gutman, Chief Strategy Officer at EmployInsight. Glass went onto note three emerging trends that make this so. First, the ease and speed of delivery via the cloud, as well as the ability to personalize based on the needs of various positions or departments. Second, is consumerization. It is now commonplace for employers to put the decision in the employees hands as to which business solutions work best for them. Last, is the rapid growth of mobile. Glass adds, “Enterprises are trying to figure out how to use their own mobile devices. Right now there’s a lot of head scratching and managers asking ‘how do I use mobile technology to work with my business?’” This evolution will translate to opportunity, and those who can adapt the fastest stand the most to gain.
Acceleprise offers an impressive list of organizations, including AOL, Microsoft, and The Washington Post, the opportunity to work directly with the accelerator and offer insights on the inefficiencies that their companies currently struggle with. Market research doesn’t get much easier then your buyers telling you exactly what they need. And once the DC accelerator selects their first class of startups, they’ll reach out to additional organizations – specific to the space the startups are building products around. Add the mentorship of CEO, Scott Case, iStrategyLabs CEO and Founder, Peter Corbett, and Maria Thomas, the former Etsy CEO, and you’ve accurately envisioned the Acceleprise ecosystem.
Acceleprise is currently accepting applications for their first class of startups, which begins in mid July. Gutman jokes, “Getting into Acceleprise will be twice as hard as getting into Yale.” Needless to say, only startups seriously passionate about enterprise solutions need apply.