“We’re looking for disruptive technologies,” said Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776, a startup incubator located in Washington D.C., before she opened a startup competition at 1871 in Chicago.
1776 is on a trip around the world to find the best startups on the planet. Their competition, called The Challenge Cup, is a pitch competition to find the most promising startups in four industries: education, energy, health, and smart cities. The Challenge Cup launched their sixteen city tour this October and came to Chicago in November to hold their Midwest competition at 1871. The Midwest’s winners–Youtopia, myPower, CareMerge and CityScan–were awarded ‘virtual membership’ to 1776 and a week-long trip to Washington D.C. to compete for one of eight $150,000 grand prizes at the end of The Challenge Cup in May, 2014. Between now and next May, The Challenge Cup is touring the globe. The Cup will be in Europe next, hosting competitions at Digital October in Moscow, Betahouse in Berlin, and Impact Hub in London. Then the competition will stop at five other cities in the U.S. before heading to Cape Town, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, Delhi and Beijing. San Francisco is the last stop on The Challenge Cup tour.
1776 was founded January, 2013 by Donna Harris and Evan Burnfield. Harris and Burnfield created 1776 after working in leadership roles at Startup America and Startup DC, respectively, two initiatives to strengthen startup communities by mapping resources and analyzing trends. At 1776 they’re creating a space where entrepreneurs can access networks in business, finance, and politics. Harris and Burnfield are also founding members of K Street Capital, an angel investment group. K Street Capital invested $4.05M in 2013 in the companies Speek (member at 1776), Dashboard.io, and Social Tables. Speek, in which K Street Capital invested both seed capital and angel investment, is a software solution for conference calls.
According to Harris, 1776 D.C. was partly inspired by 1871 in Chicago. But while the motto at 1871 is ‘where digital startups get their start’ the motto at 1776 is ‘where revolutions begin’. Some of this revolutionary zeal is evident in their programming which includes day-long classes in partnership with General Assembly and a campus for what they call “revolutionaries crazy enough to challenge the status quo.” 1776 hasn’t opened their Super Accelerator yet, the three month accelerator program for what they call “the hottest startups reinventing education, health, energy, and cities” is expected to open in early 2014. ❒