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Mayor Bowser Kicks Off DC Startup Week

Monday, October 16, 2023
Joined by Recently Appointed Leaders, Mayor Announces Second Round of Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund Awardees

(Washington, DC) –Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, local entrepreneurs, and business leaders kicked off DC Startup Week. During the event, Mayor Bowser announced the second round of Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund awardees. In addition to local business leaders and entrepreneurs, the Mayor was joined by members of her Administration, including the recently appointed Acting Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Nina Albert, Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure Keith Anderson, and Assistant City Administrator and Acting Chief Technology Officer Dr. Christopher Rodriguez.
“Startup Week is a celebration of the people who have an idea, who go through all the work of putting together a business plan, getting funding, and then making your dreams a reality,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our local entrepreneurs are critical for the vibrancy of our city, and we want you to know that when you take a chance on DC, we have your back.” 
During the event, Mayor Bowser announced the ten awardees who will receive the second round of grants from the Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund. The combined investment the awardees will receive is just over $1 million. The fund aims to empower local businesses and entrepreneurs by leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs who don’t always get a fair shot at early-stage funding. The grants support entrepreneurs who are working to get their business off the ground, as well as local business owners who are looking to expand in DC. 
The 10 awardees who will receive the second round of grants through the Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund are: 

  • Technology Innovation Labs - Automated copyright management workflow solution for law firms and creators
  • Oh Amazing Foods - Premium, organic, handmade granola sold online and in Whole Foods across the DMV
  • The Village - Community centered restaurant and event space that promotes sustainable living and multi-cultural creatives
  • Manifest - Membership-based barbershop and speakeasy that blends streetwear, culture, and community
  • Beaux Visions - Full-service security services company specializing in programming and installation of surveillance, a/v, access control, and electrical services
  • Mind your Studios - Integrated content production studio supporting creatives and storytellers.
  • Aged Diagnostics - The first accurate blood test for the diagnosis of liver disease using DNA
  • Black Leaf Vodka - Black-owned premium organic Vodka company
  • Eventida - Inclusion research solutions consultant for corporations
  • Clear - Clear gives you 24/7 access to fast, accurate virtual eye testing, regular vision checks and connection with your eye doctor, from any digital device

The Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund supports a wide range of businesses and initiatives and helps foster a culture of innovation and growth that represents the city's dynamic and multifaceted population. Since the launch of the Innovation Equity Impact Fund in Fiscal Year 2022, the Mayor has invested a total of $3 million to support local businesses and entrepreneurs in DC. Starting today, the fund is currently accepting applications for the third round of applications for local entrepreneurs and local businesses. Eligible applicants can apply by visiting
Overseeing the third round of applications will be the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) which is now led by the Acting Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Nina Albert, who has more than 20 years of experience in public real estate strategy, public-private partnership negotiations, economic revitalization, and sustainable development.
Mayor Bowser also announced that the Department of General Services (DGS) will launch the Mentor-Protégé Pilot Program to provide technical training to small businesses. The program will offer mentorship with established construction companies to support the growth and development of small businesses. The program is set to begin with an information session on October 25, as part of the District’s ongoing efforts to support the small business community. Learn more and register for the information session HERE
“The Mentor-Protégé Pilot Program represents steps in our commitment to the District's small businesses,” said Acting DGS Director Delano Hunter. “By offering valuable technical training and mentorship from established construction companies, we empower small businesses to survive and thrive in a competitive market.”
The Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) also introduced the FY24 Business-to-Business Grant program. The program offers grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to support business development and growth. Certified Business Enterprises will receive top priority in the application process. The deadline to submit eligibility requirements is November 8 at 2:00 p.m. Learn more about the business-to-business grant program and apply at
“Whether you’re investing in District residents through employee training, enhancing events to grow your business, or fostering collaboration amongst other local businesses, these grants are designed to make your vision a reality,” said Interim DSLBD Director Rosemary Suggs Evans. “Supporting our CBEs is at the forefront of our priorities, ensuring our small business community thrives.”
Along with all the grant opportunities available to businesses and entrepreneurs in DC, DC Startup Week is a week-long gathering that brings together a diverse community of entrepreneurs, investors, seasoned professionals, and mentors to celebrate and nurture the local startup ecosystem. It offers attendees workshops, panel discussions, and presentations led by industry experts. 
“For the past 8 years this week has brought together founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, startup leaders and the community to connect, innovate and celebrate the startup community,” said DC Startup Week’s Director, Rachel Koretsky. “You can expect over 150 events across the week, all aimed at equipping startups with the needed resources, education, and connections to thrive. Community is everything as entrepreneurs and DC Startup Week is the entrepreneurial community for those looking to start and scale their business here in DC.”
Learn more about DC Startup Week from October 16-20 at

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