Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 21, 2014

The (D.C.) Kids Are All Right

The (D.C.) Kids Are All Right

Fiasco, a Grammy nominee, will be performing at the StartUp RockOn party at The Hamilton on Jan. 20. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Do you think the president’s fancy party and the first lady’s dress will be the most interesting parts of this inaugural weekend? You’re dead wrong.

Unlike 2009’s celebration, the 2013 inaugural weekend isn’t about famous outsiders sashaying to a series of events. It’s better understood as a celebration of local innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.

Some of the most interesting events are being organized by young Washingtonians to honor or “elevate” the new blood and energy that has flooded into town the past few years.

Look no further than two marquee events this weekend: StartUp RockOn and M Central, two local groups done good.

The StartUp RockOn party is at The Hamilton on Jan. 20 and features hip-hop superstar and 2013 Grammy nominee Lupe Fiasco. While it has a respectable congressional host committee, this inauguration event caps an event-filled year for the group dedicated to partying and getting young entrepreneurs in the same place at the same time.

Meanwhile, in the Atlas District, M Central is putting on an entire weekend of events focused on entrepreneurs and young people. These include an ideas forum, art gallery, musical showcase and a ball.


StartUp RockOn is a conglomeration of three smaller technology startups — Event Farm, HyperVocal and Fighter Interactive — that came together last summer to throw a party during both 2012 political conventions.

Before they knew it, one event ballooned to 18 events spread over two intense convention weeks in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. Even more impressive, these parties were some of the most talked about of the conventions and boasted A-list headliners such as The Roots and Talib Kweli.

“We wanted to celebrate and honor startups,” Event Farm CEO Ryan Costello says.

This weekend, StartUp RockOn has issued a challenge to fledgling companies in the D.C. area. It’s holding a “Start Up Challenge” for new D.C.-area companies to compete for seed money. The winner of the grant will be announced at the Jan. 20 event.

M Central’s series of events, on the other hand, will feature several of the Forbes 30 Under 30, policy wonks and emissaries of D.C.’s local arts and music scene. The M Central project is scheduled to launch this spring and is created by and for young entrepreneurs. The project will include upward of 100 innovators to cross the country on a transcontinental train. They will stop along the way to visit some of the best examples of “enterprise [and] conservation” in the nation.

“These examples are best seen in person,” M Central’s CEO Patrick Dowd tells HOH.

“D.C. is a great city to launch any sort of project because it is the one city in the country that you have representatives from all over the country, all over the world,” he says.

Dowd and Costello both consider inauguration weekend a perfect opportunity to reach their core constituency.

“Tens of thousands of young people” will descend on Washington, Dowd said. And M Central and StartUp RockOn want to provide these crazy kids with a place to go.

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