DC Company Social Tables Announces $1.6 Million Round

Social Tables, Fortify.vc, DC Startup, DC Tech, funding

Any event planner knows how difficult it is to juggle all the different tools they use to plan. Microsoft Office, iCalendar, Evernote, paper and pens. It can be a headache to pull of a great event.

Since September 2012 Social Tables has been helping solve the many organizational challenges of event planning. They also provide tools specifically for the hospitality industry and catered events. They are making event planning easy and fun.

And, they are announcing a new round of capital with which to do it.

Yesterday, Social Tables announced a $1.6 million round led by Militello Capital. Most of the new money came from previous investors like 500 Startups and Fortify Ventures, as well as previous angel investors. New investors include Goldin Ventures, Middeland Ventures, K Street Capital, customer-turned-angel (always a good sign) Philip Dufour, and Sameer Gulati.

Jonathon Perelli of Fortify Ventures talked to Nibletz about his firm’s participation in the round: “It was a quick decision for Fortify and other existing investors to increase our investment in Social Tables in this current round. Dan Berger is a unique blend of hacker, hustler, and designer, he is a visionary CEO and he leads, hires, and manages well. Socia lTables is a clear leader in the event planning software arena and we at Fortify are strong believers in the company’s future.

Perelli will be on hand for the upcoming Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference in September.

In the last year, Social Tables has shown plenty of reasons for investors to be confident. Each month they average about 65% growth in booked revenue. Their hotel clients include franchises of Renaissance, Crown Plaza, Sheraton, and Hilton. Nonprofits, corporations, and academic institutions have all used the tools to plan events.

“Over the last year we’ve been able to prove our business model and the company’s true potential.  We’ve decided to take advantage of the market opportunity by bringing in new capital so that we could scale the business even faster,” said Dan Berger, the company’s founder and CEO in a statement.

The new money will be used to expand staff and explore other markets and verticals.

We often hear that it’s too hard to get funding if you start a company outside Silicon Valley. But, Social Tables is proof that the right companies everywhere else can be just as successful at raising money as companies in the Valley.

At the Soutland Conference last month, Paul Santinelli gave startups everywhere else some advice:

Stay put.

Find great talent.

Tackle a big problem.

The money will follow.

With stories like the one from Social Tables this week, the everywhere else ecosystem has reason to believe that’s true.


Fortify VC’s Carla Valdes Knows What It Means to “Have It All”

Fortify.vc, investor spotlight, interviewOn the outside, it looks like Carla Valdes has a life any woman would want. Husband, kids, interesting job. She’s beautiful and pulled-together, and it definitely seems like she “has it all.”

And she’s okay with that illusion.

“I’m great with the world thinking I’m pulled together,” she laughingly told me over Skype. “But, really I’m just like any other mom trying to make it all work.”

“It all” for Valdes is a day that typically starts before dark. She’s up at 4:30 so she can head into her office with Fortify Ventures by 5:30. The commute is anywhere from 1-2  ½ hours depending on traffic, but her husband’s teaching and coaching gig keeps them in their current location, close to family. There aren’t many phone calls to make that early in the morning, so in her head, Valdes makes lists of all the things to do that day. Around 6:30 she talks to her 2 kids—ages 5 & 3–before they head off to school.

When she finally gets into the office, the day could go a thousand different ways. As a General Partner at Fortify, Valdes oversees the accelerator, The Fort. She also plans events, participates in investor relations, and works on deal sourcing. Despite meetings throughout the day, she also joins us all on the quest for inbox zero. She tries to leave the office by 3:30 so she can be home by 5-5:30.

Jonathon Perelli, Managing Director of Fortify, knows he has a stellar partner on his team. He confided over email:

Carla Valdes is the hardest working unsung hero I’ve ever had the opportunity and pleasure to work with. Her enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is contagious and she has a passion for startups that is second only to her passion for her children. Carla’s impact goes well beyond the Fortify portfolio and Washington, DC region. She is a firecracker whose strong heart and sharp mind are fantastic assets and having her as a partner has been a blessing.

After a full day, Valdes does the evening dance we all know and love to hate. Dinner (healthy, if she’s lucky), baths, story, bed. She often falls asleep with or before her kids, alarm set to do it all again the next day.

Yup, it seems like she has it all. But, like any of us, Valdes can point out the things she’s missing.

When I spoke with her via Skype this week, she had the luxury of working from home and was at a local Starbucks for the afternoon. This rare break from the killer commute was only possible, though, because her kids were at the beach for the week. With the kids gone, she and a few interns were working out of her house, and she was excited to feel so productive. But…

“You always have parental guilt,” she pointed out. “The kids are at the beach, and I’m missing the fun. But if they were here, I would feel guilty they weren’t at the beach.”

Parental guilt aside, Valdes doesn’t plan to quit any time soon. Like many moms, she knows if she didn’t work, she would go crazy.

For women that feel the same way, Valdes has a few tips:

  1. At work, don’t be too nice. It took her awhile, but she finally realized that the polite behaviors—offering drinks, stepping out for a call—made her seem like a secretary. While these behaviors come natural to many women, it can make others second guess your role in the deal and not take you seriously.
  2. Let the men think you’re pulled together. Valdes thinks the whole conversation about women and work is good for women to have in small circles. It’s good to know we’re not alone in our struggles. But, as far as anyone else needs to know, this whole thing is effortless.
  3. Forget what you think a perfectly balanced life looks like. It’s like when you give a speech. You may think you bombed it because you forgot this point or didn’t put in that punch line. But the audience doesn’t know what you meant to say. Give yourself a break on those things you think you should be doing and focus on the things you have done.
  4. Get some “me” time. Valdes admitted she’s actually not the best at this herself. Still, once every month or so, she gets a pedicure all by herself—no kids allowed. “Even if the laptop’s on my lap!” she laughed.

In the middle of a national conversation about work/life balance, Carla Valdes just does it, with a lot of grace. She knows it won’t be perfect, but that’s okay.


Startupland: The Movie, Chronicling Real Life In A Top Metropolitan (everywhere else) Accelerator

StartupLand, DC startups, Fortify.vc, The Fort, Jonathon Perrelli, startup movie

Justin Gutwein is a film maker and startup junkie who has combined his love of entrepreneurship and startups with his love of filmmaking with a little help from the most recent graduating class at Fortify.vc.

Gutwein has taken to Kickstarter to fund the post production and finishing costs of the Startupland documentary series. Startupland chronicles the lives of LegCyte, RidePost, SnobSwap, TrendPro, and TripTribe, who were all part of the spring cohort at Washington, DC’s “The Fort” accelerator, led by Jonathon Perrelli.

There have been a few spins on a “startup series.” Techstars did a series with Bloomberg that was great for entrepreneurs, but it looked more at the program and the program’s founders. Then there was that Randi Zuckerberg mess that didn’t really relate to any startup founders. What makes Startupland different, and necessary, is all the raw footage that Gutwein shot. None of it was scripted or orchestrated, aside from editing each episode for time, and to capture the story. It’s a real look at what an accelerator is like.

“JP [Jonathon Perelli] didn’t even want to be in the movie. He let me have full access to the startups and the program, but Startupland is about the startups and the stories are told by the startups themselves,” Gutwein told us in a phone interview.

Gutwein has a goal to have the post production done by the fall, just in time for–oh wait you’ll have to find out about that later this month!  To get there he’s looking to raise $75,000 on Kickstarter.  At the time this article was written, Gutwein had already had $25,000 pledged.

Startupland is going to be good for anyone involved in startups. For the beginner it will provide a good look into what it really takes to get into an accelerator program. For a startup in acceleration to seed or series A, it will show that every startup goes through similar issues. For the hardened veteran it will be both entertaining and educational.

Check out the rest of our interview with Gutwein below:

What is your startup called?


What does your company do?

Startupland is a documentary series that weaves together the stories of five early stage companies in an accelerator together with interviews and advice from seasoned, veteran entrepreneurs.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Justin Gutwein is the Producer / Director. He is the founder of ShineOn Storytelling and has produced numerous documentary projects including The Entrepreneurial Spirt and the video content for Creating Innovators.

Where are you based?


What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

It’s energized, growing and supportive…you’ll have to watch to find out the rest!

What problem are you hoping to solve by releasing Startup Land?

The vision is to inspire and educate entrepreneurs globally on the ins and outs, ups and downs, successes and failures of starting and building a company and provide an accelerator-like experience to those who may not have access to an accelerator.

Why now?

With new accelerators sprouting up all over the world, it seemed the right time to capture what happens at an experienced one to teach those that may not have access.

How much have you completed already?

Five companies have been documented going through an entire accelerator course. Hundreds of hours of footage have been shot. The storylines that will be the backbone of the series are being developed and fleshed out.

What are your next steps?

We are in the final stages of confirming some legends of tech and venture capital to be interviewed for the series. We are also working on developing graphics and animations to help breakdown some of the more complicated topics, like the ins and outs of cap tables, the many methods for leveraging stock as a currency and sourcing tech talent.

Where can people find out more?

Back StartupLand on Kickstarter here.  find out more at startupland.tv 

This is an absolute must attend startup conference for any startup everywhere else.


Tech Cocktails Speaker Series “Sessions” Returns To DC December 5th

TechCocktail,DC Sessions, Startup event, TroopID, Fortify VC,iStrategy LabsIf you’re going to be in the Washington DC area next week, then you definitely want to put TechCocktail’s next speaker series event on your calendar. TechCocktails speaker series, called “sessions”, puts together entrepreneurs, designers, startups, and investors in a setting to discuss topics that are relevant to those in the tech and startup community. They offer unparalleled access to top tier, successful speakers, in a somewhat intimate setting.

The next “Sessions” event is being held in Washington DC at the Atlas Theater (1333 H Street NE) Wednesday December 5th from 6:30pm-9:00pm. They are calling the event “Building Your Team”.

Living up to their mission TechCocktail’s Building Your Team session is of the utmost importance to startup founders everywhere. The success of any startup hinges on the product and more importantly the team.

“At some point, most startups reach a point where they need to build a team. How do you start? How do you find the best possible people to grow your company and represent your new brand? Despite today’s unemployment rates, the technology sector remains highly competitive and building a top notch team might be more challenging than you think. Come hear from our speakers who have a variety of perspectives on building out amazing teams, finding talent and keeping them. ” (from TechCocktail’s event page)

The Sessions event will have three speakers, all who’ve had to go through the team building experience. Blake Hall the founder and CEO of TroopID , Carla Valdes a general partner at Fortify.vc and Peter Corbett founder and CEO of iStrategy Labs, have all had their fair share of team building.

Hall’s company has built the first military focused verification database. Hall has had experience building his startup team and being part of teams in the military including as an active duty Airborne Ranger qualified officer.

Valdes has built up the team at Fortify.vc a Washington DC investment fund and is also instrumental in selecting and solidifying the starutp teams that are chosen for Fortify’s dc based accelerator, The Fort.

Corbett and his team at iStrategyLabs serve as a digital agency to some of the world’s biggest brands like ESPN,Disney, ABC, Nasdaw and Geico. Not only is Corbett managing highly creative left brained teams, but he’s doing it with the intense pressure that comes with running a digital agency.

Tickets for the event start at just $10.00 but you need to get them quick before the pricing goes up. Follow the link below.


TechCocktail Sessions DC event page here

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