Startup2013 at Whitehouse (20)

Executive White House Building





















Posted on by Zack Miller (my partner in crime). Wanted to share this information over on my blog also. Since I was a part of it and Zack did a wonderful job highlighting the 2 days in DC! Oh and he did use all my photos!

Like most folks, one of the first things I do in the morning is check my email. Typically, it’s the same stuff, sites I subscribe to, some business emails and the random spam email, however one morning last week, I received an email from the folks at Startup America Partnership, inviting myself and a few other Virginia champions to the White House to meet with the administration behind job growth in our country.


Like anyone else, I emailed back as quickly as I could. This was an opportunity I did not want to miss. Not because I’ve dreamed about visiting the White House or that I wanted to check it off my bucket list, but rather because I wanted to showcase the Norfolk-Virginia Beach startup community. Something I cannot rave enough about.


For the past 2 plus years, my focus has been on creating and growing startups from the nations 36th largest media market. We’ve been very successful in my mind, but those in our immediate region and across the country are just now noticing.

Given a chance to tell our nations leaders and startup leaders across the country about how we created and grew our community was something I was beyond proud to represent.

Most know about Start Norfolk in our region and more recently the launch of Hatch, an early-stage accelerator program. But, many do not know about the countless hours put in to the vision behind such a community. When I first came up with the idea of the startup community here, many and I mean many told me I was crazy, that it wasn’t sustainable and that it would never work. But, with determination, and lots of execution, the startup community here is thriving. 549199_10151292586058995_1503742577_n

Since the first Start Norfolk back in November 2011, over 100 different startups have been pitched, over 100 different entrepreneur and innovative events have occurred connecting like minded business leaders, builders and creatives together. And just announced Drop Anchor, a conference connecting innovators, startup community leaders and entrepreneurs, with speakers from all across the country traveling to Norfolk, VA in April.

The Norfolk-Virginia Beach startup community is my passion and starting and growing it to where it is now is so awesome.

We had a few calls with the Startup America folks to discuss logistics at the event and what to have prepared.

Keith Privette and I decided to go up the night before to meet up with some of the other regions. After tweeting to see who was in town(Keith loves him some twitter), we met with Indiana startup leaders(Mike Coffey and Matt Hunckler) and discussed how both communities have grown. Indiana and Virginia have similar stories and lots of drive from their entrepreneurs.

We called it a night and woke up all jazzed for the jam packed day.

I dressed up, not a common theme.

The day was filled with a breakfast with Steve Case and the Case Foundation, to the Kaufman Foundations State of Entrepreneurship, the White House visit and then the kickoff of 1776, a new space in DC that will host the top entrepreneurs in the DC region.

IMG_0838I truly believe that the key to any startup community is awareness. If people don’t know what’s going on, how can they build kick ass startups?

On the bus ride to the White House I met Erik Mitisek, who along with Brad Feld and Jan Horsfall are leading the way for entrepreneurs in Colorado. While talking with Erik, I told him some of the shenanigans  we were whipping up in Norfolk-Virginia Beach and said we were looking at doing a Norfolk Entrepreneurship Week. Erik goes on to tell me that he helped organize Denver Startup Week and it was a huge success.

This is why I go to these events, because you meet your counter parts in other cities across the country and they don’t try to sway you off your ideas, rather help you in any way they can to help you succeed.{Insert USA chant here}

IMG_0839After going through two security check points, we were in. We walked up four flights of a crazy awesome spiral staircase and made our way into the Indian Treaty Room. Found a electrical socket, charged my phone and grabbed a quick pic with the Startup Virginia folks.

Things got kicked off with a few introductions from Jean Case and Scott Case(still not related to Steve). 11 regions were in attendance along with several administration officials to discuss the importance of fostering vibrant startup communities throughout the US. Representatives were from the Small Business Administration, Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Commerce.

Hearing stories of action from the 11 different states that attended was beautiful. About 50 folks from across the country attend from Arizona, Colorado, Washington DC, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. All telling their journeys and how they will create the next mecca. But, instead of working individually, cities within each state and ultimately each state with each other, are working together to create our country as the leading startup community.

Each discussed their Big Idea, from Creating Things that Matter(Indiana), to Solving Real Problems(Nebraska and my personal favorite Big Idea) and Connecting the Commonwealth(Virginia).

We together are building the greatest country in the world, because 50 states is much better than just 1 city.