1776: A Home for Startups and Innovation

By Dean’s Intern Nicole Tanoue at 1776

Nicole at 1776

What makes a company truly innovative? What makes a company a stimulating and inspiring place to work? During my time as a media intern at 1776, I’ve come to realize that the vital components are a core team of passionate employees, and a strong company mission and vision. This summer, I have been lucky enough to intern at a company that embodies these qualities, and much more.

Less than two years after 1776 was founded, the startup incubator has garnered recognition not only in the D.C. area, but around the nation and the world. 1776 is home to 215 member startups that are tackling challenges in four major areas: health, smart cities, education and energy. Membership at 1776 means that these startups have a space to work, access to mentors and experts in the field, daily events catered to their specific needs, and of course, the famed PB&J station (my favorite part). These membership benefits are specifically designed to help startups successfully navigate through the inevitable uncertainties they will face in the first few years as a company.

I was initially drawn to the 1776 campus because of its rustic, yet modern interior design and its large, open work space. I had never seen an office that harmoniously combines aesthetic with practicality. There is no typical day as an intern at 1776, whether it’s a visit from President Obama or a pop-up lunch provided by a partner sponsor. Throughout the summer I had the opportunity to hear Senator Marco Rubio speak about his wireless innovation act; I wrote an article about an education roundtable led by Jeff Selingo, an expert in higher education; I was able to live-tweet from the company twitter account at POLITICO and ‘The Hill’ events; I absorbed everything I learned along the way. I was given a lot of responsibility in a variety of projects ranging from designing images for the company website and handling the social media at innovation and tech events. Most importantly, however, I was able to see firsthand how the backbone and integrity of a company is apparent in everything it does. The main focus of 1776 is helping these promising startups make a change in society through the resources it provides.

It’s an exciting time to be working for 1776 as we prepare for the 2nd annual Challenge Cup, a global competition that brings startups from around the world together to pitch their ideas to investors. I feel honored to be able to intern for such a great organization — to be able to learn from the 1776 team as well as the member start-ups.  Interns at 1776 — hailing from schools from all over the nation, and even a few from Europe — are given resources like career workshops and regular check-ins to ensure we get the most out of the internship.  Just being exposed to the innovation and fearless determination at 1776 on a daily basis has proven to be an invaluable experience for me. My biggest takeaway is that surrounding yourself with passionate people who are truly focused on making a difference can inspire you to do the same. For the startups at 1776 as well as the team of interns, this mantra could not be more accurate.