Ajay Kori, CEO, UrbanStems
Hometown: Durham, NC
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? I was in a long distance relationship with a woman who lived in Philadelphia when I lived in New York. I kept having bad experiences sending flowers over and over again that crescendoed when a birthday bouquet that never showed up almost got me dumped. We looked into the industry and realized it hadn't been changed in close to 100 years, so we created the best experience possible from scratch.
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Don't spend your time planning, spend it doing and learn as much as you can from the doing.
Amelia Friedman, Cofounder & COO at Hatch Apps, a company that automates software development to make building an app fast and affordable.
Hometown: Arlington, VA
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? At the time, my cofounder and I were both Halcyon Fellows, living together in Georgetown. I was struggling to affordably launch software for the organization I was then building, and my now-cofounder Param Jaggi had stumbled onto a way to make app development dramatically faster and more affordable. We started working together to commercialize his tech so that anyone could launch an app for their business.
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Work with people you love on product you love. And start today. The hardest part is getting started, and if you do it with great people and work on something that you’re passionate about, it’s certain to be an awesome ride.
As a founder, best thing about being based in DC area? Worst? The best thing about DC is the warm and welcoming startup community here. So many people have gone out of their way to help me and my cofounder build this company. And the worst thing about DC this January is this insanely cold weather— but fortunately that's just temporary!
Sean Griffey, CEO, Industry Dive
Hometown: Chevy Chase, MD
Story or event about the founding of company: The night that the first iPad was released, I was at dinner with the CEO of a large media company. Despite having never personally seen an iPad or having a plan for how it could commercially support his business, the CEO lamented that he didn't have a tablet version of his magazines ready for the iPad launch. At that moment, I knew that major print media companies would make the same mistakes with mobile that they had made with the internet. My co-founders and I knew these mistakes would lead to opportunities for new companies and the seeds for Industry Dive were planted.
Advice for a new/interested entrepreneur: Don't get caught spending too much time in the "start-up/entrepreneur" ecosystem. Your time is much better spent attending meet-ups and events focused on the industry you are serving. (editor’s note: except for attending DCA Live events)
Best/Worst Part of DC: The best part of being in the DC area is that the city has teams in every major professional sport. The worst part is that they are all Washington, DC teams.
Jeff Grass; Chairman; HUNGRY, buySAFE and LiveSafe
Hometown: Fairfax, VA
Story or event that inspired your company/venture? The realization that the way we order office food today works perfectly for teams that no longer exist...
Advice you’d give to a new/interested entrepreneur? Make sure you are ready for it… building a successful company is a marathon, and at times also a sprint. Most of all, make sure you are enjoying the journey along the way!
As a founder, best thing about being based in DC area? I get to walk to work. Worst? Not enough companies provide free lunch for their teams everyday… but they should!