The Fort Unveils Its First Class In DC – And We Got A Tour

The Fort, a DC-based startup accelerator that launched earlier this year, is quickly becoming a center point in the DC area. With its office space granted by DC Mayor Vincent Gray, the Fort currently houses thirteen early-stage startups as it looks to offer a hybrid accelerator model for the DC region. Today, the Fort, lead by Jonathon Perrelli and Adam Fazackerley, announced its first class of startups.

They include:

CoFoundersLab –  Founders Shahab Kaviani and Culin Tate are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs launch new businesses by helping them overcome the first challenge in launching a startup – finding the perfect co-founder. It’s eHarmony for entrepreneurs. The service is similar to FounderDating, but serves different geographic markets.

Feastie – Founder Valerie Coffman wants to make it easier and more affordable for people to cook healthy, tasty meals. The site provides nutritional information, shopping lists, and coupon matching – and, most notably, a recipe engine that uses natural language processing to extract ingredient information from recipe webpages.

Forensic Innovations – Founder Rob Zirnstein developed networking and data processing software for 15 years. Now with Forensic Innovations, which already sells a File Investigator Engine for document recovery, backup, management, security and more, he aims to build new technologies to satisfy the need to efficiently dig through data and produce the nuggets of information hidden in today’s computers.

Hinge – Justin McLeod wants to help you expand your social graph on Facebook. Just answer questions about your current Facebook friends: What are they like? Which ones are your type? Hinge then learns your tastes and suggests up to five compatible friends of friends per day.

Klaggle – Klaggle is Klout for reviews and opinion based content. Founder Stephen Candelmo, the former co-founder of Fedbid, has focused the team on building the ReviewRite product, which allows consumers to write, share and discover trustworthy reviews on anything with their friends. It also lets businesses leverage the power of reviews more effectively through its patent pending analytical and search technology that scores and indexes the quality, credibility and resonance of any type of written content.

Lemur IMS – Founders Will Fuentes and Cary Scott, whom we recently covered, understand that retailers have a problem with inventory.  Their new Inventory Management System for big box retailers connects local customers to local slow moving inventory via personalized offers. The system also collects market, retail, customer and community data to optimize the results per location. Using various methods of real-time communication, Lemur creates a sense of urgency and a call to action that leads to more sales.

MonthsOf.Me – MonthsOf.Me is home to visual stories about life’s moments; it lets members easily organize their digital life, share their stories and collaborate on content. Founders RJ Johnston and Joshua Abraham have built a platform for you to create visual stories using media like pictures, text, and videos in order to share moments around specific topics such as births, ballgames, weddings, concerts, and events.

NextGame – Founders Andrew Chang and Tareq Tahboub are really passionate about sports and want to enhance people’s active lives by connecting individuals and groups to make it easier for them to play and participate in the sports and activities they love. Users can search for new places to play, find and organize games and activities, and easily share those activities with friends. NextGame brings people, locations, retailers, and event organizers together, and will be the only platform people need to manage their active lives. It’s like Foursquare for pickup games.

Saylo – Founder Sean Sun wants you to communicate easily, one-to-many, with the people around you. So he built a mobile app that lets you create and join location-relevant conversations, anonymously. Like a hyper-local Twitter, Saylo allows for spontaneous interaction and engagement, especially with new people around you who you don’t even know.

Social Tables – Founder Dan Berger is trying to make the event planning experience less stressful and more efficient.  Social Tables is a web-based event planning platform for large, seated events. The service offers a suite of planning tools, built for anyone from the DIY bride to the sophisticated corporate planner.

Uppidy – Founder Josh Konowe built Uppidy to let you save, search and share your text/sms messages using any major smart phone platform. The company has thousands of users worldwide and millions of messages in dozens of languages. Uppidy lets everyone keep the conversations they created regardless of carrier, provider, cell phone or cloud service.

Venga – Venga, (“Let’s go” in Italian”) the winner of our Hottest Early Stage Startup in DC Poll, is a guest management platform for restaurants. The platform, developed by founders Winston Lord, Sam von Pollaro and Reg Stettinius, seamlessly integrates with a restaurant’s Point of Sale system, captures all of the information on the bill (server, dishes, check amount, etc.) and turns it into actionable insights for restaurants. Products include restaurant-branded loyalty program, guest satisfaction and targeted marketing. Advisory Board includes Top Chefs Spike Mendelsohn and Mike Isabella and Jose Andres’ Think Food Group’s CEO Rob Wilder.

I visited with Jonathon Perrelli earlier this week to get a tour of the Fort – watch the video tour below as Jonathon shows us his new space in downtown DC.


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Written by:
Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.
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