Pulling Weeds in the DC Startup Garden

If the DC Startup ecosystem was a garden and all the startups were plant life, the good companies would be flowers, especially Urban Stems and Bloompop that happen to sell flowers.

If the DC Startup ecosystem was a garden than the DC Startup Tech “Journalists” would be the farmers who shine sunlight and spread manure in our gardens. “Journalists” from Tecnical.ly DC and DCInno do a great job of spreading the crap. They indiscriminately spread life-giving nutrients to all plants be they flowers or weeds. That’s great because every garden needs fertilizer.

If the DC Startup ecosystem was a garden it would be a small garden and unfortunately, this garden is over-fertilized with poo and is infested with weeds.

The weeds you ask? They are companies like Trustify, Chalant Health, Union, and LifeFuels, with “Venture Craptial” firms like 3Si, with false prophets like Paul Singh, Evan Burfield, Jonathon Perrelli. they are the second tier, phonies who don’t even qualify to the 1st class huckster status like, Jason Feimster, Matthew Pugsley, and Janet Ridgely. To the outright abusive criminals like Andy PowersDanny Boice, and Jen Mellon.

If the DC Startup ecosystem was a garden, this garden would need a gardener willing to get his or her hands dirty and pull the weeds. Because these weeds block the sunlight, and horde all the life-giving nitrogen and air from the ecosystem choking the life out of great companies like Hurdlr, Industry Dive, Territory. Few great companies get any fertilizer or sunlight from the bullshitocrats in the local tech press.  I can’t blame the tech “journalists” solely for their lack of critical coverage of truly great companies.

Great companies are more like mushrooms than daisies.  They like to grow in dark places and avoid the sunlight until they’re edible. Great companies are like truffles. It’s not easy to find truffles but daisies grow like weeds. Lazy or overworked “journalists” seem to prefer the easier route to produce the bit vomit they call web-copy. They don’t have the patience or discipline of a truffle-sniffing hog. That takes too much effort as opposed to reprinting a press release or take a phone call from some hand-waving, clown jumping up and down to garner personal affirmation as opposed to delivering value for their investors. It’s too difficult to stop taking dictation and ask a critical question or check with a secondary source.

Real entrepreneurs, great CEO’s concentrate on first things first and bullshit never. Real entrepreneurs create real products that satisfy real validated needs before they seek the publicity to help sell that product. And if that product was a flower in a garden, they wouldn’t call DCInno or Technical.ly DC, because their customers, their prospects, their strategic partners, don’t read DCInno… because their prospects are not brain dead (okay I’m joking here, I’m brain dead, I read DCInno although I only read Technical.Ly DC when I’ve been rickrolled). Companies in the flower industry would promote themselves at the Society of American Florists, or the National Retail Federation, or Floral Management Magazine. They don’t waste their time pitching stories to trashy rags that flower industry executives do not read.

What prompted this Mr. Cranky post? On August 27 when I wrote this, I received a Twitter DM from a well-meaning devotee of the DC Startup ecosystem that read,

Hi, I know you are “Mr. Cranky,” but from someone who works in the DCtech space — can you not be so publicly negative all the time? You are one of the faces of “DCtech” and all you do is trash founders. IMO it is a bad look for the “scene.”

Good question and I appreciate the honest push back. This blog post is my answer. I’m the gardener in charge of pulling the weeds in the DC Startup garden. Without a weed puller, the weeds would take over the garden. Thanks for reaching out, tweeter. I do appreciate your point of view and the feedback.