7 Hottest Startups Coming Out of DC Area Universities

December 28, 2015

2:00 pm

It should be no surprise that universities are often epicenters of innovation. The colleges and universities in the DC area are no exception. The DC metro area is home to some pretty exceptional educational institutions such as George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University, and the University of Maryland. We can also include Virginia Tech in this group since so many of their students come from the DC area and many of their alumni return to the region.

Every year there are more and more startups coming out of these schools, and the school are also doing their part to lend increasing support to their resident entrepreneurs. For example, the University of Maryland has its own incubator, and Virginia Tech has its own alumni network of angel investors looking to invest in startups coming out of the university. Here are seven of the hottest startups that came out of DC-area colleges.


Upace is an app that was created by American University student, Rachel Koretsky, for college and university gyms. Since college students are so busy (presumably), they can’t spend all afternoon waiting for a treadmill at the campus fitness center. This app helps students reserve equipment or sign up for a spot in a class to save them from having to arrive super early – time that could be better spent elsewhere.

SHELF Cosmetics

SHELF was born at American University by a student who was overwhelmed by the choices in cosmetics. She created an app that lets people catalog their nail polish choices, see what their friends and celebrities are wearing, and also review the health and environmental impact of their selections. Right now the app is only for nail polish, but one of their goals for 2016 is to expand to other kinds of cosmetics.


M3D is a consumer printer that came out of the University of Maryland. It ended up being one of the top-funded Kickstarter projects of 2014. It was the first company to really make 3D printers affordable and accessible to everyday people. In 2015 they also added a smaller retail version called the Micro to their product line.


Happening is a local events finding app out of George Washington University that sets itself apart from other event finding apps. It uses a Tinder-esque swiping and filtering system to curate events based on ones you’ve previously liked or disliked. It will also recommend events based on what your friends are doing.

The Rival

The Rival is a customized media publication that’s covers a number of college campuses across the country. It started at George Washington University and serves as an alternative to the main campus news site. A network of students keep things running and the site currently brings in 5,000 and 10,000 visitors a day.


Matt Parker played college basketball at James Madison University, and knew he wanted to get into tech startups after graduating. However, being a committed college athlete, he didn’t take the courses that would have given him the right skills. He found this to be a common problem among college athletes, so he founded Gradtrap which offers a training program for former athletes to learn tech skills.


Koofers started out as a site for students to post old exams and study materials for the benefit of future students. Since it was originally founded by Virginia Tech alum Michael Rihani, it has turned into so much more. Now it’s a resource not only for old exams, but other study materials. It’s also a place where students can find internships and jobs, and provide professor ratings.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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