(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced that the District is providing a $100,000 grant to the venture-capital firm Fortify.vc, a recent and very active arrival to the District’s early-stage-startup investment scene. Fortify.vc will relocate its headquarters from Sterling, Va. to the District and open a technology-startup accelerator to fast-track the growth of companies in which the firm has invested.
“As entrepreneurs work to create jobs that District residents need, my administration is working to help them refine their ideas and grow their businesses,” said Mayor Gray. “The District’s technology sector has grown consistently over the last 10 years, and we hope that Fortify.vc’s accelerator will help diversify our economy, nurture our entrepreneurial culture, spur innovation and create jobs.”
Fortify.vc has already funded 10 portfolio companies, and an additional 12 companies or more will begin a six-month acceleration program this month at Fortify.vc’s new downtown headquarters. During the program, founders will refine their products and business models, focus on development and distribution, spend time with mentors and the Fortify.vc team, and some may raise additional funding to stimulate growth.
Fortify.vc Founding Partner Jonathon Perrelli is a native of the D.C. region, has made investments in West Coast companies, and plans to invest globally in companies founded by visionary entrepreneurs with defendable market positions in rapidly emerging or high-growth sectors.
“On behalf of our portfolio companies, our Limited Partners, our Mentors, and our families, we are excited to be launching ‘The Fort’ in the heart of the nation’s capital, just two blocks north of the White House,” said Jonathon Perrelli, Founding Partner of Fortify.vc. “Our team loves the entrepreneurial process, we care deeply about the success of the District and this region, and we work very closely with the founders that we are invested in to accelerate their success.”
“The District is home to a growing number of incubators built on the co-working-space model, but we are hoping that Fortify.vc’s intense mentorship and follow-on capital will produce a crop of startups that advance D.C. as a technology center,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor L. Hoskins. “Firms that provide business incubation and acceleration services should stay tuned for additional initiatives aimed at assisting those who help entrepreneurs realize their ideas.”
The District has not had an accelerator like the one Fortify.vc is opening since LaunchBox Digital relocated to North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park in 2010. Several local startups have temporarily left the region to participate in accelerator programs elsewhere.
In addition to locating its headquarters and accelerator within the District, Fortify.vc has committed to market the District as a permanent office location to portfolio companies and to hold its “Distilled Intelligence” technology conference in the city for the next four years. In October 2011, Distilled Intelligence 1.0 attracted over 500 attendees with the theme of “Energizing Startups and Investors in the Mid-Atlantic Region.” At the conference, entrepreneurs from 55 companies competed for cash and prizes and networked with investors, and local technology community leaders participated in panel discussions.
The $100,000 grant is a concrete example of the support Mayor Gray is committed to providing to the District’s technology sector. The Fortify.vc grant is the first of several initiatives intended to grow the District’s technology-innovation ecosystem.