New DC Startup Accelerator The Fort Launches
Jan 13, 2012
A new tech accelerator is coming to town: Fortify.vc, a venture fund from Virginia, will begin accelerating some of its portfolio companies at The Fort in DC.
The Fort’s launch is supported by a grant of $100,000 from DC mayor Vincent Gray. Initial startups will include Venga and Social Tables – you’ll find them over at 1627 K Street NW. (According to this tweet, The Fort is open for business.)
Many VCs – and startups themselves – recognize that funding is not the only thing investors should provide. Opening The Fort helps Fortify.vc systematize its mentorship, and that’s a move other VC firms could emulate.
Below, Jonathon Perrelli, general partner of Fortify.vc with Adam Fazackerley, explains how they developed their accelerator model and what is special about DC.
Tech Cocktail: What are the keys to running a successful accelerator program?
Perrelli: The Fortify.vc team spent time visiting and reviewing a variety of accelerator programs around the country, and we also surveyed founders and mentors that participated in other programs. [Editor: See our report on top accelerator programs for more info.] We learned some basic things: Founders find Mentors that work. Startups need TLC and brutally honest feedback. There is a recipe that will work for the Mid-Atlantic region, specifically DC, and it is a work in progress. When (not if) we encounter issues, we will tweak the recipe.
By incorporating the best components from other programs, learning from the mistakes of others, and adding our unique approach, we have come up with a program that we are very proud of. We will spend quality time with the founders, as will our mentors. With experience and focus on solving the issues that founders face, assisting them with all facets of how to grow a thriving business, Fort companies will benefit. To what degree they benefit, we shall see.
Tech Cocktail: Have you selected the initial class already?
The initial class has been identified and we are finalizing with a few final companies at this time. Distilled Intelligence [Fortify.vc’s event where startups pitch to win money] was a critical part of the process for locating the right fits for The Fort. We did not have an application, we felt that it would be best to pursue the companies.
Tech Cocktail: What are DC’s strengths as a region?
Perrelli: DC has access to some of the most powerful decision makers in the world, embassies that represent countries starved for technology innovation, Defense and Federal Agencies who never stop trying to spend their way out of trouble, an incredible talent pool, one of the longest standing technology communities in the world, the birthplace of the Internet, some of the new economy’s hottest companies, and so much more.
DC as a city also has an administration that is incredibly committed to supporting a thriving technology sector. Mayor Gray has embraced the DC Tech community and is following through on his promise to support the efforts of startup companies.