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Global Startup Incubator 1776 Announces $12.5M Seed Fund

1776 Seed Fund to Target Disruptive Startups in Health, Education, Energy, Transportation, and Smart Cities


Washington, D.C.–Global startup incubator 1776 today announced the final closing of its new $12.5 million Seed Fund. The fund will focus on investments in pre-Series A startups with the potential to disrupt highly regulated industries such as health, education, energy, transportation, and smart cities.  

The Fund, 1776’s first, will complement its work to help early stage companies around the world that are transforming the industries most important to our lives as citizens grow and scale. In addition to the business insights, coveted connections and sophisticated expertise 1776 offers all of its member companies, the Fund will enable 1776 to make seed stage investments in the most promising startups. 

“Technology is permeating the global economy and unmooring it from its industrial era roots, creating massive opportunities for  innovation. This is especially true in complex, regulated industries that are operating the same way they did decades or even centuries ago,” said 1776 co-founder Evan Burfield.  “Startups in these markets, with the right combination of capital, market sophistication, and insider relationships, can scale in ways never before imaginable.”

“As evidenced by companies such as Opower, 2U, and Evolent Health, successfully growing from idea to IPO, disrupting regulated markets requires access to more than just capital,” said 1776 co-founder Donna Harris.  “It takes investors with a sophisticated understanding of regulatory hacking and a network of insider relationships to enable them to execute rapidly.”

With the announcement of the fund, 1776 is well positioned to provide that support. From Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, 1776 already brings unique expertise helping startups navigate red tape and bureaucracy, and now through the Seed Fund will bring its capital to supporting ambitious pre-Series A startups with the potential to build massive global businesses.  

The 1776 Seed Fund aligns with other 1776 programs designed to find, grow—and now fund—these kinds of startups, wherever they may be.

  • Finding — Through its roster of global programming, ranging from the 1776 Challenge Cup to the Startup Federation, and its campuses in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia and San Francisco, 1776 discovers promising startups that have the potential to create massive scale while tackling major world challenges.
  • Growing — 1776’s extensive startup incubation programs, delivered to startups at its physical campuses and virtually to startups around the world, empower startup members to move from idea to scale, delivering the education, content and connections promising entrepreneurs need to be most successful. 
  • Funding Through the Seed Fund, 1776, alongside co-investors who also see the untapped potential in regulated markets, will make seed stage investments with an average of $100k, as well as follow-on investments, in the most promising portfolio companies.

Since announcing the Seed Fund in 2014, 1776 has been actively investing, backing 20 companies to date, and co-investing alongside funds including 500 Startups, Silicon Valley Angels, and Govtech Fund and notable angel investors such as Ron Conway, Marc Benioff, and Jason Calacanis. The Seed Fund’s first investment was Ridescout, a technology platform that allows people to search and compare ground transportation options on demand and in real time, which was acquired by Daimler in late 2014

The fund is managed by Donna Harris and Evan Burfield, 1776’s co-founders, along with Steve Graubart, formerly of Calvert Ventures, Rusty Greiff, a senior advisor to New Markets Venture Partners, and others. 

About 1776

1776 is a global incubator and seed fund that finds promising startups focused on solving the world’s most fundamental challenges and helps engineer their success. 1776 focuses on startups in the most broken, entrenched industries and sectors that impact millions of lives every day – specifically education, energy, health and cities. 

Because solving big challenges in entrenched industries requires a different approach, 1776 is revolutionizing the startup landscape. From its hub in Washington, D.C., it is sparking a global movement of “problem-solving’ startups through its Challenge Cup and Startup Federation, the premiere network of incubators throughout the world. 

1776 was founded in February 2013 by Donna Harris, a serial entrepreneur and the former Managing Director of the Startup America Partnership, and Evan Burfield, founder of netDecide, a provider of enterprise wealth management solutions, and the consulting firm Synteractive.