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Five Washington-Area Startups to Watch

There are lots of tech companies in the D.C. area, but most focus on business or government customers. Here are some consumer-focused startups worth watching.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

The Washington, D.C., area has a lot of tech companies, but many of them aren’t that recognizable to consumers because the firms focus on business or government customers. But there are also plenty of more consumer-focused startups that appear to be getting some traction. Here are a few companies to keep an eye on:



Retailers hate dealing with returned inventory, which is where Optoro steps in. The seven-year-old company has built technology that helps big-box retailers resell returned merchandise, overstocks or open-box products.


The company’s software allows large retailers to organize such inventory, routing those goods simultaneously to a number of online stores where retailers can sell the items for the most money. Some of those items end up on Optoro’s own discount site,

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the company’s latest financing round in December, which raised $50 million.

Riide Bikes


Biking to work can be great, unless you live in a hilly city or a place where it gets hot and/or humid in the summer. Not everyone can shower at work. Electric bikes have been around for years, but they often target an older generation.

Enter Riide, one of the next generation of electric bike companies hoping to capitalize on the woes of sweaty bike commuters everywhere. Launched via a Kickstarter campaign, the company began shipping its $1,800, 35-pound bikes earlier this year, including a limited edition model for Kenneth Cole.



Founded by former Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen, SocialRadar develops location accuracy software for mobile apps. The company’s SocialRadar mobile app allows people to check in and see which of their friends might be nearby.


But the company recently released technology for developers that can improve location accuracy services in their apps while minimizing battery drain on phones. New Enterprise Associates led the company’s $12.75 million series A round two years ago.

Social Tables



Launched out of a Washington apartment in 2011, Social Tables provides cloud-based software to help event planners figure out seating plans or help guests check in at a function. The company raised $8 million in venture funding last year.

Washington is weirdly awash in event-planning software companies. Publicly traded Cvent, which offers event planning, survey and email campaign software, is based just a few miles away in the Virginia suburbs.

Wedding Wire



Founder Timothy Chi might not be an obvious choice to run a wedding planning site, but he launched the business after getting frustrated with how hard it was to plan his own ceremony in 2007. The site doesn’t just help couples keep track of guest lists, seating charts, invitations and (most importantly) expenses, it also offers suggestions on local vendors and even songs to play while the bride is tossing her flower bouquet.

The venture-backed company recently brought a new CFO on board and acquired Barcelona-based Wedding Planner SL, a site that runs a similar site in several European countries.

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