Sure, the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of D.C.’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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Many tech companies call the DMV home, including larger ones like Capital One, Gannett and Boeing. Several of these companies chose to settle down in D.C. because of the city’s proximity to Capitol Hill and the new talent graduating every semester from local universities.
The metro area might not be as big of a tech hub as San Francisco or Seattle, but it’s growing every day. Young companies building out the D.C.-area tech industry are innovating in their respective fields, each getting creative to solve problems or offer interesting new products to its customers. You may not have heard of them yet, but these small startups are making big moves in the D.C. tech scene nonetheless.
Built In’s Future 5 Up-and-Coming D.C. Startups, Q3 2022
- Chrysallis.AI (Metaverse/Edtech)
- Citizen Data (SaaS/Data Analytics)
- Givebutter (Fintech)
- Worthy Mentoring (Mobile App)
- Yearly (SaaS)
Chrysallis.AI is a metaverse learning platform that uses augmented and virtual reality to help students learn skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). CEO and co-founder Anna London started the McLean-based company to solve a problem in tech she experienced.
“As a woman in the cybersecurity [and] technology industry with 28 years of experience, I noticed a huge gender and racial diversity gap. I found myself as the only woman on an all-male team frequently in my career, so I wanted to do something about it by encouraging other females and people of color to join the ranks in STEAM and cybersecurity-related careers,” London told Built In via email.
After a foray into teaching, she realized her students still weren’t engaging with the material, often due to imposter syndrome that made them uncomfortable asking questions. Chrysallis aims to mitigate that challenge by using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to adjust curriculums to the pace of individual students. The platform also uses fluid analytics, adaptive learning and gamification to engage students and make learning more fun.
Citizen Data is an “Insights as a Service” (IaaS) platform that offers political and social insights to help mission-empowered organizations create real-world change. The platform’s offerings include dynamic dashboards, cluster modeling, qualitative research and message guidance, among other capabilities.
“Citizen is building a platform — not just a product suite — focused on democracy-building. There is nobody in the market like us,” Rebecca Coffman, co-founder and COO at Citizen Data, told Built In via email. “In service of our mission, we’ve taken a lean startup approach to building our products and company. We don’t build ‘for’ but rather ‘with’ our customers who are the subject matter experts.”
While Citizen data has already proven its product-market fit in the short term, it is currently hiring to help deepen its expertise and make its platform smarter over time. The startup also plans to expand its market reach across public and private sectors and improve its partnerships, marketing and overall impact.
Givebutter is a fundraising platform for nonprofits offering an end-to-end solution for everything from raising funds to tracking donations and engaging with donors. The platform also has over 1,000 integrations, making it easy for nonprofits to hook Givebutter up with their existing systems.
Founded in 2016 in a George Washington University dorm room, the company has a fee-or-free model that allows donors to front the bill for transaction costs, meaning more of the donation can be put toward the cause. If nonprofits decided not to have donors pay the transaction fee, the nonprofit pays a platform fee instead. According to Givebutter, 99.5 percent of donors decide to cover this fee, making the service free for most organizations.
“Our society is more generous than ever, collectively powering $471 billion in donations in the United States in 2020, making it the most charitable year on record,” Givebutter CEO and co-founder Max Friedman told Built In via email. “Despite unprecedented levels of giving, nonprofits continue to face economic challenges alongside this surge in demand for social change. Having low-cost, easy-to-use fundraising tools to reach nonprofit professionals and donors has never been more important. Givebutter propels its users forward into the digital age, offering more ways to connect with supporters than ever, and does it all for free.”
Worthy Mentoring is a peer mentoring app that pairs queer people struggling with their identity with vetted mentors who have been in their shoes. The aim of the program is to make the coming out experience less scary by giving youth someone to talk to who won’t judge them.
CEO and co-founder Michael Edmonson started the company in response to his own experience coming out. Even after telling his loved ones, he realized he still had a lot of questions that he didn’t know how to get the answers to.
“I had never been on a date before, been out in school or work, spoken to an LGBTQ+ affirming doctor or explored questions related to religion and sexuality. To find support for these questions, I had dating apps and social media, but I had no desire to date someone and I didn’t want to out myself publicly through Facebook,” Edmonson told Build In via email. “Outside of that, I had crisis intervention, but my questions were not crisis moments. I decided that there needed to be a designated space for the LGBTQ+ community to come out and be out.”
Mentees using the app must be 18 years or older and mentors are required to submit to a background check. Once mentees sign up, they’re able to filter matches based on age, ethnicity, profession and discussion topics to help them get the best mentor for their specific needs.
Many nonprofits spend a significant amount of time and money creating and printing annual reports to show their donors, board members and volunteers. Fed up with this process, Josh Kligman decided to create Yearly, a SaaS platform that allows nonprofits to digitally host annual, impact, board and event recap reports for a small subscription fee.
“Nonprofit budgets are tight but even when the economy bounces back, there is no reason to spend $500 or $5,000 on printing when 99 percent of their donor base would be fine with, and appreciate, an annual report that lives on a website,” Kligman, CEO of Yearly, told Built In via email. “From there, nonprofits can track metrics on their annual report within Yearly, such as unique views, and if they embed the report on their website, marketers can use Google Analytics to track time spent reading the report as well as other key metrics to show their return on their investment.”
Yearly offers nonprofits a free trial, after which the subscription platform starts at $75 a month. Currently, the company has approximately 2,300 users including big names like the World Wide Fund for Nature, Teach for America and The Forbes Funds, among others. Yearly hopes to continue growing its platform as well as its team and is currently hiring a product engineer.