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Will: Hey everyone, it’s me again. (I oversee editorial and expansion for Inno). Sam’s on vacation this week so I’m anchoring the Beat and bringing in a few voices from the DC tech community to carry the Big One. (Quick note – we’ll be off Thursday & Friday).

For today, we have Humble Ventures co-founder Harry Alford who’ll be discussing the unbundling of accelerators. Harry, take it away…

Harry: Y Combinator launched as the first accelerator in 2005. Today, there are as many as 2,000 accelerators that exist around the world. However, there remains to be ambiguity regarding the qualifications of an accelerator. According to a Brookings Institution 2016 study, 700 U.S.-based organizations categorized themselves as an “accelerator” or “accelerator/incubator.” Varying models and hybrids have emerged catering to specific verticals.

Ultimately, accelerators/incubators have been a bundle of four things?—?office space, mentorship, programming and access to funding. But given the dissemination of public information on the web, we may be witnessing an unbundling of accelerators?—?dividing into separate parts such as assets, products or services.

It’s become almost counterintuitive for startups to converge in physical spaces. Interactions are constantly occurring more and more in a virtual setting with people they believe can provide the most value no matter the locale. A startup will never tell you they don’t have a table to rest a lap top or access to wifi connectivity. There’s a responsible way to cultivate the entrepreneurial appetite and wrapping it around real estate might not continue to be the answer.

Pitch Events don’t change behaviors and only add value for the short-term. It’s a prolonged and systemic development of relationships and resources that enable success for startups. These types of relationships can be cultivated online and real-time data can be properly managed in a dashboard that’s accessible to all stakeholders. We’re currently seeing this tech trend evolve nationally with Techstars first virtual accelerator, “Techstars Anywhere,” designed for startups for whom a co-location requirement is not feasible. In the D.C. metro area, 1776, a hybrid incubator/VC, is promoting their UNION software platform to connect startups and mentors from around the world. This is occuring with recent news of departures from their D.C. campus and divestment in their San Francisco-based space.

[Read more about Harry’s thoughts on the unbundling of accelerators here]

Will: In places like San Francisco, Boston, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Austin, etc. – the above makes total sense. However, I do think that physical spaces are probably always going to play a critical role in emerging tech/startup hubs. In less established ecosystems, you need that physical space to serve as a kind-of living, breathing billboard advertising the fact that “yes, you can build a startup here.” If you don’t have that, it’s too easy for student entrepreneurs and first-time founders to flock to cities/regions where these communities already have a decades head start, and where most of these digital conversations are already taking place.


Will: Herndon, Virginia-based Upskill (formerly APX Labs), a provider of enterprise software for augmented reality devices, announced the acquisition of Austin, TX-based Pristine, a SaaS provider of AR collaboration and video streaming software. Upskill will leverage Pristine’s remote assistance and knowledge capture solutions to offer the most comprehensive product suite in the AR industry.

Explained Upskill CEO Brian Ballard in a statement. “There aren’t very many new technologies that can deliver this kind of ‘out of the box’ value creation, which is why adoption of AR technology is accelerating at an incredible pace. This underscores the importance for Upskill to leverage new opportunities that will help us scale and innovate faster than anyone else in the space. The acquisition of Pristine will allow us to do just that.”


Will: Power Supply, the D.C.-based healthy prepared food delivery startup, has rebranded to Territory and announced $6.7M in funding. The round was led by Upfront Ventures, NRV, Lewis & Clark Ventures and The Motley Fool Holdings. (The startup was co-founded in 2011 by two former Motley Fool colleagues). [More in Techcrunch]



Will: On Thursday, May 18th, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and Humble Ventures is hosting its Boost Spring Startup Showcase, featuring presentations from the 13 early-stage companies that participated in its Spring cohort. (The 3-minutes pitches and event will be held ON A BOAT).

For any interested policy maker, investor, corporation and/or startup, reach out to for more details on how to RSVP.

Also, tonight is Startup Shell’s Spring EXPO, featuring presentations from 12 startups; more info here.

Will: So, my wife was scrolling through the ‘book yesterday and was fed the ad to the right.

Yes, my wife lives in Illinois and her mom lives in Massachusetts. Sure, this information is accessible, probably. In fact, could you figure this out if you wanted to, about most people? I guess. There’s a ton of stuff on the web.

My first reaction, like most people (I’m assuming), is “GROSS.” That’s some nasty cookie action that’s using personal information she did not willfully volunteer to market against her. My knee jerk reaction was certainly “this is awful.”

My second response was “huh, that’s not a terrible idea for a Mother’s Day gift.”

And that’s kind of the double-edge sword to all of this. I get it. If I’m using something for free, like Facebook, I’m going to be fed ads. If you don’t want to be overly advertised to on the internet, pay for your content. And if marketers are using available information to advertise more relevant, customized stuff to me, then why is that a problem? It’s creepy, sure, but I guess it’s better than getting ads for diapers (I don’t have kids) or protein powder (I don’t exercise).

What do you want to see in this email?

Staff Writer: Sam Sabin,