1776 Officially Merges With Benjamin’s Desk
We’ve been there since the beginning. We, along with sites like Tech.co, have stood side by side with Evan Burfield and Donna Harris through many Startup America events, the ground breaking at 1776 DC, help put up door desks, move furniture and watch the space thrive. We’ve seen President Obama visit 1776, and been to several DC area startup launch parties, anniversary parties and even death parties. There will be a lot of chatter about 1776 in the coming days (maybe weeks). Many of those writers were still in high school when 1776 was launched. Although we’re biased, we’re pretty sure that our story, and the story that tech.co will write shortly, will be the right one about the amazingness of 1776.
First, don’t get it twisted. Technical.ly reported earlier in the day that Glen Hellman’s Driven Forward originally broke the news that Benjamin’s Desk was in talks to acquire 1776. For starters, Hellman is the most anti-startup community person in Washington DC. He also has some kind of stick up his ass about 1776 founder Evan Burfield. Personally, I’ve known Burfield since the Startup America days, we have never been buddy buddy, I was always closer with Harris, but what Burfield has done with 1776 and Startup America before it, catalyzed the Washington DC startup community, and startup communities across the country. The work that Burfield and Harris laid out was the foundation that set the stage for Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” tour.
1776 grew from one floor to multiple floors. They grew from one location to multiple locations. They brought the biggest speakers, partners and startups to the nation’s capital. They have achieved their goal to date, of making DC more accessible to startups (many other organizations are helping as well).
Through the Challenge Cup, 1776 brought attention to cities across the globe and their startup talents. Through his own marriage, and birth of his own child, Burfield at any, and we mean every, given moment would throw on a 1776 t-shirt and carry the torch to light the path for entrepreneurs of every sex, race, ethnicity, gender, and orientation to do what are forefathers laid out for us, start businesses.
Today it was formally announced that Philadelphia based Benjamin’s Desk was merging (not acquiring) 1776. Benjamin’s Desk has been a catalyst for innovation and startups in the Philadelphia area. Led by, Co-CEO’s Anthony Maher, and Jennifer Maher, Benjamin’s Desk will oversee the day to day operations of the new combined company taking the name 1776. Maher and Maher will become Co-CEO’s of the new company while Burfield will become the Executive Chairman.
“We’ve spent five years watching member companies bring new jobs to Philadelphia, and we’re so excited about the potential to see members inventing new futures for communities up and down the Northeast Corridor,” Maher said in a a statement.
The two companies first worked together in a joint venture around the Challenge Cup. They are now positioning the two companies as consolidating mid Atlantic spaces under one brand, Technical.ly DC reported.
Burfield is also set to become CEO of a spin out company which will develop 1776’s internal Union platform for others to use, a move reminiscent of Paul Singh’s spinning out dashboard.io from 500 Startups in 2013. Singh eventually parlayed dashboard.io into Disruption Corp which included resources, an incubator and a fund. Disruption Corp was eventually acquired by 1776 and became their Crystal City Virginia location.
What many people often forget, or perhaps don’t know is that Burfield and Harris launched 1776 as a startup itself. It wasn’t like they had a big fund at their disposal when they first opened the doors, the fund came later. With that, they went through the growth and the trials and tribulations alongside the startups and entrepreneurs within their walls.
It would be repugnant to shed any negative light on this merger between two great startup organizations, especially considering that now, the collective entity, is the largest support structure for startups on the East Coast and one of the largest across the country.
“I couldn’t be more excited to share that Benjamin’s Desk is merging with 1776. The expanded 1776 will be the largest incubator network in the Northeast Corridor with 11 campuses across four states and DC, serving more than 1,000 companies.” Burfield said on his personal Facebook.
Read the official 1776 announcement here.