Daniel Turner / CEO / TRAXyL, Inc.
Hometown: Manassas, VA
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? It began when my dad was trying to improve his Internet service. The cost was simply too high to bring fiber to his home. So I had an idea - piggyback off the road network and put fiber in the paint lines of the road!
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Run-away – run as fast as you can. If you choose to ignore this advice, welcome to the club.
As a founder, best thing about being based in DC area? Worst? NOVA is my home town so having friends and family close by is very important. There is also some cool tech and a significant startup support community. The worst is the traffic, everyone knows that!
Stephen Carter, Co-Founder, TRAXyL, Inc.
Hometown: Manassas, VA
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? Longtime friend (Dan) brought up idea during bachelor party. 18 months later we had both left our careers to pursue an opportunity where we could work together to develop a new technology and make a big impact in this world, starting in our local community.
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Find a trustworthy cofounder early. Interview and take the process seriously. Entrepreneurship is a tough endeavor, even for a veteran – a cofounder can keep you balanced.
As a founder, best thing about being based in DC area? Getting introductions is easy and there is always a networking event Worst? Venture capital is too risk-adverse... and of course traffic.
Jeff Wolff, Co-Founder and CEO, IDENTIQi
Hometown: Vienna, Austria
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? My co-founder, Tim, came up with this idea while sitting on a plane returning from a business trip. The idea is that any credentialed individual should have indiscriminate access to property for the purpose of leasing, renting, buying or touring a property without the need for a real estate agent to be present or the need to exchange keys. Tim and I have been friends for several years, but it wasn’t until we coincidentally started talking about our mutual passion for real estate investing, that the idea was transformed into a venture. It started almost three years ago when Tim had invited the family over to his annual Easter Egg hunt, as his daughter is almost the same age as mine. Even though we had met at several years ago in our previous career in the intelligent transportation systems industry, we had never spoken about our mutual passion for entrepreneurship. Today, we have a product that we believe will not just make access to properties more efficient, but will also increase security, remove discriminatory decision making and allow for high volume throughput to properties.
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Everyone has great ideas, but what differentiates a dreamer from a great entrepreneur is focus, perseverance and execution.
As a founder, best thing about being based in DC area? DC offers a rich and multicultural environment that fosters diversity and drives innovation. It’s a great place to find world-class talent to build a thriving enterprise.
Worst? A five-mile commute is an hour away :)
Chris Freire, CEO, Student Opportunity Center (S.O.C.)
Hometown: Miami, FL
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? Started as a senior in college-- me and other students noticed lack of real-world opportunities that actually prepare students for a career after graduation.
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Only start it if you care about the problem you're solving, and building the company (not the money). Dont count on or plan for VC until you have a working product and traction... there's usually a way to bootstrap your growth!
As a founder, best thing about being based in DC area? Great talent and growing tech scene. Worst: Miami had nicer winters :(