10 DC Startups Destined to Breakout in 2014

In case you missed it, Tech Cocktail is more region specific than ever.  Atlanta, Austin, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, DC, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, NYC, and San Francisco have gotten their own dedicated pages with their own design, their own posts, and their own trending content from around the web. It’s cool – we agree, but this is only the beginning. Stay tuned for much more to come.

As part of the city-specific kickoff party – we will be featuring a healthy dose of content for your region over the coming weeks.

Today’s edition brings us to Tech Cocktail’s East Coast home, Washington, D.C.  

I reached out to a handful of those fully entrenched in the DC startup scene to nominate a startup who was destined to breakout.  Whether that be from early stage to mid-stage, mid-stage to late-stage, the emphasis was on progress.  This list is by no means all inclusive.  Feel free to share your thoughts if we missed anyone in the comments…


About:  TrackMaven makes it easy to organize and track all of your competitors from one easy to use tool. No more gathering data from multiple sources for your reports.

Why this startup will breakout:  “Unique product/market fit, a rock solid UX, and an amazing team.  It could be easily argued thatTrackMaven is already ‘breaking out’ but I think 2014 will be a massive year for them. Under the leadership of Allen Gannett, they launched quietly in 2013 (on purpose) and have been heads-down growing a strong customer base, and continuing to build on the product. If you haven’t heard about them yet, you will soon.”

Biggest obstacle:  “Potential competition from big players — but I think they’ve got a nice head start and some solid traction. That, and a weird obsession with corgis that might distract them from getting work done.”

– DJ Saul, CMO at iStrategyLabs


About: DataRPM delivers industry’s first Instant Analytics platform on the cloud designed for ISVs, System Integrators, Analytics Consultants and Enterprises to build multi-tenant business intelligence and embedded analytics solutions for external and internal customers, just from the browser. Anyone can create an analytics solution in minutes and deploy it in seconds.

Why this startup will breakout:  “Because they are already competing for business against much bigger players with deeper pockets and they’ve only just started. I’d expect them to land clients and really build revenue in the next 12-18 months.”

Biggest obstacle:  “Just a guess, but I’d say talent. I think capitalization is always a challenge, but I’d bet that they have strong enough internal numbers to pull together another round of funding if they deemed it necessary. But talent? In this area? It is hard for almost everybody.”

– David Sandrowitz, VP, Client Services at Optoro

Brazen Careerist

About: Brazen Careerist combines groundbreaking virtual recruiting events with actionable career advice and education to help professionals discover their strengths, refine their skills and find a job they love. They help hundreds of employers identify, engage with and hire top talent, and we help universities connect their students and alumni with each other and with top employers around the world.

Why this startup will breakout: “Brazen has a talented team with a healthy mix of young aggressive and seasoned, exited entrepreneurs. Their sales and revenue numbers are higher than just about any startup in the DC Tech region and they are quietly building a large and loyal customer base for their live online event platform. Customers include Fortune 500 companies as well as Colleges and Universities. Some of the region’s smartest angel money is backing Brazen.”

Biggest obstacle: “Brazen is planning a large Series B raise in 2014. Series As and Bs are tougher than ever to raise and fund raising is always a distraction from the day-to-day job of building a business.”

– Glen Hellman, Chief Entrepreneureator at Driven Forward


About: Super simple conference calling using a personalized link (i.e., speek.com/yourname). See who’s on the call, who’s talking and more.

Why this startup will breakout: “Reinventing how we do conference call has been a long-time coming and the focus on the URL over the dial-in and pin is small example of a huge leap forward. They are doing everything right in a space that has traditionally been doing everything wrong. It’s also backed by a strong leadership team with a tremendously successful track record. The world of business is going more and more remote, between remote offices and remote workers … however, the need for collaboration has never been greater and voice is still one of the best ways to keep that collaboration personal when an email thread isn’t efficient and management tool isn’t appropriate.”

Biggest obstacle: “The ‘telephone” is quickly becoming synonymous with archaic communication tools and the world is constantly on the lookout for anything and everything beyond the traditional … it’ll be difficult to convince those looking for an excuse to leave the telephone behind to get behind a conference calling service provider, despite it’s advanced technology and diverse communication system. Reinventing the old can be problematic in an industry devoted to replacing the old.”

– Martin Ringlein, cofounder at nvite

Silica Labs

About: Silica Labs helps innovators build revolutionary software for wearable technology. Today, connected eyewear and connected watches seem like amazing toys. Tomorrow, they will transform healthcare, education, travel, and conversation. The gap between today’s toys and tomorrow’s transformations has one bridge—the awesome software that all of you will build. Our platform and tools help you build it.

Why this startup will breakout:  “Silica Labs, a start-up that builds revolutionary software for Google Glass and other wearable technology, spent 2013 building their team and their product offerings while Google Glass found its way into the hands of more and more people. As Google Glass and other wearables become more common in 2014 Silica labs is poised to be the go-to company in the region for companies wanting to extend their products or services to wearable devices. Wearable tech is hot and so is Silica Labs.”

Biggest obstacle:  “The wearable market, especially Google Glass, is still in a nascent stage and needs to build up its adoption and Silica Labs can’t be successful until Google Glass or other wearables are successful.”

– Michael Chasen, founder and CEO at SocialRadar


About: ID.me lets you prove your identity and group affiliations online, and puts you in charge of how your personal information is shared.

Why this startup will breakout:  “ID.me has a great team lead by Blake Hall and they additional funding (seed and grant) so they have the cash to work towards reaching the next level.”

Biggest obstacle:  “I think that like most startups ID.me will be challenged with the growing competition for Series A funding. This ‘Series A’ crunch has been well documented. The number of seed funding startups has grown exponentially, and will continue to grow in 2014. This makes for increasingly fierce competition for a fixed number of Series A deals.”

– Danny Boice, founder and CTO at Speek


About: A fitness food company, passionately built for active folks who want to eat better, feel better, and perform better with the powerful combo of intentional food and fitness that made such a crazy big change in our own lives.

Why this startup will breakout: “Already dominating local specialty diet market in DC Received funding to roll-out in new markets to prove the model.”

Biggest obstacle: “Will the systems scale?”

– Glen Hellman, Chief Entrepreneureator at Driven Forward


About:  SnapDash blends together a camera, a ticking clock, and the best of charades and Improv comedy to create a one-of-a-kind app that turns every photo or selfie into a performance.

Why this startup will breakout: “Like Snapchat, SnapDash is capitalizing on the popularity of having fun with the camera on your phone. Marketed as the “cure to boring photos” the SnapDash app officially launched in late 2013 – capturing your poses to its random and hilarious prompts. With unique marketing through Instagram and popularity in the all-important young teen market, I expect to see downloads increase rapidly in 2014.”

Biggest obstacle: “There are many camera apps vying for attention, so they will need to continue to evolve their marketing practices to break out.”

– Michael Chasen, founder and CEO at SocialRadar


About: FoundationDB is a distributed, highly fault tolerant key value store with ACID transactions that makes it easy to build applications that scale.

Why this startup will breakout:  “Well funded, amazingly talented team and they are aggressively building out a sales operation. Once they get that going, I don’t think there is much stopping them from being an absolute monster of an enterprise tech company.”

Biggest obstacle:  “Well, sales talent will matter. I also think that they’ve always had higher technical risk than probably any other startup in the region given the complexity of the solution they have been working on. They have been building “deeper” tech, a product that has high value at the core of many operations, but that could run into more difficulties as they put it in customer hands. Table stakes in their market are high and their list of prospects might be on the shorter side, but if they crack it…well, you get the idea.”

– David Sandrowitz, VP, Client Services at Optoro

gusto dcGusto

About: Software for restaurants.

Why this startup will breakout: “High technical barrier to entry founded by senior R&D exec from the 1000 pound gorilla, Micros. The hospitality point of sale market is ripe for disruption. Product is built.”

Biggest obstacle: “Building a national sales and support footprint.”

– Glen Hellman, Chief Entrepreneureator at Driven Forward

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Written by:
When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.
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