Washington, D.C.’s tech ecosystem grows larger each year, playing host to startups with a broad range of fierce ambitions, fresh capital and promising leaders.
Over the past several years, the metropolis has become a magnet for tech investors. According to Built In, 10 local companies combined secured more than $2.4 billion in funding in 2021. And 2022 has proven to be equally economically advantageous, considering D.C. startups have acquired more than $30 million in funding so far, as outlined in a separate Built In report.
This mounting investor interest gives D.C.’s fledgling tech frontrunners more room to confront challenges in a variety of sectors. For instance, at life sciences startup 54gene, CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong and his team aim to expand access to precision medicine for Africans and the rest of the world, buoyed by more than $45 million in funding.
Class Technologies and Base Operations are following a similar trend. After securing a whopping $105 million in extra capital last year, edtech company Class Technologies is reshaping the world of virtual education with its software, which integrates with Zoom to enable instructors to teach and interact with students from a distance. Meanwhile, at Base Operations, founder Cory Siskind is spearheading the increased use of micro-intelligence in global security operations, bringing the startup founded by women to the forefront of D.C.’s tech races.
These companies, along with many others, prove that the nation’s capital is carving out its own space in the global tech landscape. Check out our picks of the 22 top D.C. startups to watch in 2022.
What they do: Guided by the aim to grant the world smarter, more efficient news coverage, Axios is a digital media company that covers a wide range of topics, from politics and finance to tech and sports. Since its inception, the startup has expanded its reach, offering a mobile app, several podcasts and educational video courses.
Why we’re watching: Earlier this year, the company announced its decision to expand its editorial coverage, specifically regarding the Latino community, business and finance. Late last year, the startup also broadened its local news coverage to encompass 11 new cities, including Boston, Houston, Miami, San Francisco and Raleigh.
What they do: In an effort to drive transportation electrification, Inspiration Mobility partners with fleet businesses to finance, build, own and operate the assets that enable quick and profitable deployment of electric vehicles. The company aims to enable fleet operators to transition to electric with the lowest risk, highest return on investment and least amount of friction possible.
Why we’re watching: Last fall, the startup announced it had secured $200 million in funding to fuel its electrification endeavors. In a statement, founder and CEO Josh Green said, “Our mission is to accelerate the electric vehicle transition, delivering tangible economic value to our partners while enabling the emission reduction benefits of EVs.”
What they do: The order-to-revenue operations space is marred by countless spreadsheets, inaccuracy with legacy systems and human error. Ordway wants to make the process easier. The company’s billing and revenue automation platform is designed to eliminate back-office inefficiencies, identify revenue trends, and simplify finance and operations tasks, integrating with CRM and ERP software to forge connections directly within an organization’s finance stack.
Why we’re watching: Late last year, the startup announced its decision to partner with Sage Intacct in an effort to automate billing for innovative pricing models and contract structures. According to Crunchbase, the company has acquired $12.5 million in funding since its inception.
What they do: Pie Insurance offers small businesses direct access to workers’ compensation insurance. Through the company’s platform, businesses across the country can save up to 30 percent on workers’ comp and receive an online quote in three minutes.
Why we’re watching: The company announced last year that it had secured an extra $118 million, bringing its total capital raised to more than $300 million. The company also earned a spot on Built In Colorado’s “100 Best Places to Work for in 2022” list.
What they do: Caribou is dedicated to putting drivers in control of their auto finances. The company’s platform is intended to offer users easy access to auto loan refinancing and insurance while providing lower monthly payments and better rates.
Why we’re watching: Last year, the company announced its partnership with ride-hailing giant Uber, which will give drivers direct access to the company’s streamlined refinancing process, according to Automotive News. As reported by TechCrunch, 2021 also proved to be financially advantageous for the company, considering Caribou raised an additional $45 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs.
What they do: Shift5 is dedicated to protecting commercial airplanes, trains and military tanks from cyber attacks. The company’s technology enables users to understand and maintain their fleet’s cybersecurity health in real time.
Why we’re watching: Last fall, the veteran-founded startup announced it had raised $20 million in a Series A funding round. Around the same time last year, the company was named a 2021 Tech 100 honoree by the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
What they do: WireWheel aims to simplify data privacy management. The company’s platform is built to enable enterprises to achieve compliance and easily fulfill privacy rights requests at scale, allowing them to choose the functionality that best suits their business needs.
Why we’re watching: Last year, the company announced it had secured an additional $20 million in funding, bringing its total capital raised to $45 million. In a statement, founder and CEO Justin Antonipillai said, “Our mission is to make this enterprise-grade privacy infrastructure available to every company, so that everyone can responsibly protect personal data and ethically use it to solve their business problems.”
What they do: Base Operations helps organizations secure their global workforces and operations through the use of micro-intelligence. The startup’s technology integrates with companies’ global security operations centers to provide street-level threat analysis, aggregating and visualizing data to enable organizations to solve geolocation-based issues.
Why we’re watching: In 2021, the female-founded startup announced it had raised $3 million in funding after securing a $2.2 million seed round earlier that year. In a statement, founder Cory Siskind said, “Closing this funding round is an exciting milestone for us as a company and also validates the needs of companies looking for best-in-class security solutions.”
What they do: Class Technologies emerged out of the pandemic-induced need for virtual classrooms. The company’s technology integrates with Zoom, enabling educators to hand out assignments, tests and quizzes in real time, take attendance, conduct private one-on-one discussions with students, and more.
Why we’re watching: Last year, the startup announced it had secured an extra $105 million in funding, bringing its total capital raised to more than $160 million.
What they do: Guided by the aim to transform the “gig economy,” Empower wants to help professional drivers in America earn a sustainable living. The company’s app allows drivers to set their own rates and earn 100 percent of their fares, while enabling riders to take advantage of more affordable rides and specific driver selection.
Why we’re watching: Earlier this year, the startup announced that more than 50,000 rides had been made through their platform so far. Since its launch, the company has acquired $9.1 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.
What they do: The cybersecurity industry is riddled with confusing products, a lack of prioritization and unfulfilled promises. Expel wants to change that. The company’s technology is designed to detect and respond to security threats in minutes, enabling organizations to identify risks unique to their business and spend more time focusing on other areas of their operations.
Why we’re watching: Late last year, the startup announced it had secured an additional $140.3 million in funding, bringing its valuation to more than $1 billion. In a statement, founders Dave Merkel, Yanek Korff and Justin Bajko stated that this newly acquired capital puts the organization among the ranks of only 32 cybersecurity unicorns in the U.S.
What they do: Considering less than 3 percent of genomic data represented in research comes from African populations, 54gene is committed to expanding access to precision medicine for Africans and the rest of the global population. Leveraging curated clinical, phenotypic and genetic data, the company’s GENIISYS platform is designed to generate insights derived from studying diverse genomes in an effort to solve global healthcare challenges.
Why we’re watching: With offices based in D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria, the startup recently announced the completion of a $25 million funding round, which brings the organization’s total capital raised to more than $45 million. In a statement, CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong expressed his excitement, saying, “It’s truly incredible to witness the impact of African scientists in global research and it is critical to global health that this continues.”
What they do: Hungry offers a platform for chefs and food delivery services. Currently operating in nine U.S. cities, the company enables culinary professionals to take part in business and event catering, contracted meal delivery services, pop-ups, virtual experiences and more.
Why we’re watching: Last year, the startup announced it had raised an additional $21 million in funding. Since its inception, the company has received financial backing from a variety of celebrities, including comedian Kevin Hart and NFL pro DeAndre Hopkins.
What they do: Hurdle provides “culturally intentional” mental healthcare in an effort to offer therapy tailored to people’s unique life situations. Through the company’s platform, patients can register for appointments with therapists who have completed the organization’s cultural responsiveness training, which gives them the skills necessary to address issues of race, ethnicity, class and culture.
Why we’re watching: In 2021, the company announced it had formed a partnership with social impact investment firm Hopelab in an effort to lend greater support to young people from underrepresented groups. The company also announced it had secured $5 million in seed funding last year.
What they do: Geospatial data and analytics company Hydrosat is dedicated to distilling satellite and weather data into actionable insights for farmers, agribusinesses, government organizations and financial services firms. The company’s platform is designed to be used for crop yield forecasting, drought prediction, wildfire risk, asset monitoring and more.
Why we’re watching: According to TechCrunch, the startup gained an extra $10 million in funding last year, just a few months after securing $5 million in a seed round. The company plans to use this fresh capital to roll out its commercial subscription analytics product this year and fund its first satellite mission, which will be undertaken with space services provider Loft Orbital.
What they do: Poppy Flowers is a floral delivery company dedicated to offering sustainably-sourced flowers at fair prices. The company’s platform is designed to make it easy to order flowers, while the organization’s national network of designers enables customers to choose specific floral arrangements.
Why we’re watching: According to Crunchbase News, the female-founded startup secured $1.65 million in seed funding last year, bringing its total capital raised to $2.2 million. In an interview, founder and CEO Cameron Hardesty said the company plans to use its fresh funding to hire new talent and expand its network of floral designers.
What they do: Prefect’s platform is intended to offer organizations an easier way to build, run and monitor data pipelines at scale. The company’s patented hybrid execution model is designed to meet major financial institutions’ and companies that deal with regulated data’s strictest standards. Prefect enables organizations to keep their code and data private while leveraging the company’s managed workflow orchestration service.
Why we’re watching: In addition to being included in Built In’s “100 Best Remote-First Companies to Work for in 2022” list, the company raised an additional $32 million in funding last year. According to VentureBeat, the organization plans to use the extra capital to further develop its platform, attract more talent, and support its growing community of users.
What they do: SCYTHE aims to offer a different approach to information security. The company’s platform enables teams to build and emulate real-world adversarial campaigns quickly, therefore allowing them to continuously assess their risk posture and exposure.
Why we’re watching: Last year, the startup announced it had secured an extra $10 million in funding, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $13 million.
What they do: Socially Determined’s social risk intelligence technology is designed to make equitable healthcare more accessible. The company’s platform enables organizations to assess how issues, such as food insecurity and financial strain, drive excess costs and utilization, poor health outcomes and health inequities.
Why we’re watching: According to Crunchbase, the startup has acquired $11.1 million in funding since its inception. Last year, the company announced a partnership with healthcare analytics organization DataGen, which will enable the company to expand its footprint with healthcare providers nationwide.
What they do: The life sciences industry is filled with critical, complex information. Sorcero wants to make life easier for STEM professionals with its language intelligence platform, which captures the knowledge and expertise contained with life sciences content through a framework that understands domain-specific language in context.
Why we’re watching: Last fall, the female-founded startup announced it had secured an extra $10 million in funding, bringing its total capital raised to $15.7 million. In a statement, co-founder and CEO Dipanwita Das said, “This investment enables us to further define the language intelligence market, drive our capacity to serve more customers, and expand the domain expertise of our team.”
What they do: theCut’s platform connects barbers with nearby customers. The company’s technology is intended to help barbers reach more consumers and book more appointments, while customers have access to simple appointment scheduling and payment as well as reviews.
Why we’re watching: According to TechCrunch, the startup secured $4.5 million in capital last fall, bringing the company’s total funding raised to $5.35 million. The organization plans to use the fresh funds to grow its headcount and strengthen its marketing strategy.
What they do: Adlumin is on a mission to grant financial institutions increased security across their operations. The company’s security and compliance automation platform is designed to discover threats, malfunctions and IT operational failures in real-time, offering organizations access to greater cost efficiency and navigability and simpler integration capabilities.
Why we’re watching: Last year, the company announced it had gained an extra $25 million in funding. In a statement, CEO Robert Johnston spoke about how the organization plans to use its latest funding, saying, “Armed with new capital, we will be making massive investments in our channel program, enabling our partners to make an even bigger impact by delivering our leading security analytics technology to customers across the globe.”