Who could have seen this year coming? 2020 was a year unlike any other. Marked by a global pandemic and a hasty shift to remote work, every industry ran into some unprecedented obstacles. Dcode’s unique position at the intersection of tech, government, and industry partners meant we were able to help when federal agencies and tech companies needed it most.
2020 was a busy year. We launched:
- Dcode Capital, Dcode’s venture arm to help high-growth tech companies scale in the federal market was announced in April and has invested in 5 companies to date, including Hyperscience
- The GovHub, the one-stop shop for government leaders to get started with commercial tech, and added key leaders: managing director, Lisa Gaisford, and director of business development, Jay Wagamon
- Trade & Travel, designed to help emerging tech companies accelerate into the highly regulated trade and travel industries
- A new accelerator model to meet increasing government demand for fully-vetted commercial tech and provide flexible, founder-friendly support though platform-based delivery as participating companies scale in the federal market
Helping the Government Go Virtual
When government agencies needed guidance on maintaining cybersecurity, shifting to a distributed workforce, and moving innovation efforts forward in unusual circumstances, we were here to help.
We trained over 300 government leaders for organization and agencies like the U.S. Air Force, Program Executive Office (PEO) Digital, Travis Air Force Base, Scott Air Force Base, Space Force, Defense Health Agency, and Defense Acquisitions University to help them learn about innovative procurement, how to get tech on contract fast, and how to shift internal culture to clear a path for innovation in the future.
We also produced the first season of Dcode Virtual, our series of live, virtual sessions with government innovation leaders like Air Force Assistant Secretary Dr. Will Roper, GSA Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati, Navy Assistant Secretary James “Hondo” Geurts, former federal CIO Suzette Kent, former DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and more to talk challenges and future plans for emerging tech in government.
Plus, we were awarded a SBIR Phase II to help the Air Force, which includes both a tech matching product and a remote education and collaboration product. These products help the Air Force identify and match tech company capabilities with government use cases, and learn how to effectively work with them. We’re already offering e-learning and innovative procurement 101 at your own pace for the Air Force, helping a few defense and intelligence offices sustain and scale their innovation efforts, and running tech scouting and vetting as well as digital strategy training for senior leadership at the Navy. With our SBIR, any participating agency can work with us through a sole-sourced Phase III on work like tech matching, asynchronous e-learning, and more.
New Year, New Accelerator
Many tech companies found added value in working with federal agencies as government contracts can provide reliable, recession-resistant revenue and offer stability in a tumultuous time.
In 2020, Dcode ran three accelerator cohorts: AI & Big Data, Cybersecurity, and DevOps & Security. Then, in response to growing government and tech demand, we moved from the cohort-based model to rolling admissions to provide more customization and flexibility for companies of all tech areas looking to scale in the federal market. With this new model, Dcode can help companies of all emerging tech areas scale in the federal market on their own timeline.
Even though it feels like a year has passed, it was only April 2020 that Dcode announced its investment network, Dcode Capital, of angel investors, VCs, and technology and government legends is designed to invest in high-growth tech that can move our country forward. Since its launch, Dcode Capital has made investments in Trifacta, Stardog, Streamsets, Hyperscience, and Droneseed.
In addition to helping companies scale in the federal market, Dcode made moves into other highly regulated industries, partnering with Pangiam to launch Trade & Travel, an acceleration program for companies in the — you guessed it — trade and travel industries. The inaugural cohort focused on tech companies with passenger screening and safety solutions to help airlines rebound. Highlights from the 8-week long acceleration program include a virtual pitch competition at the World Trade and Tourism Council’s Aviation Festival, meetings with hundreds of industry leaders, and a promising group of companies that can help solve pressing industry challenges.
Keeping the Culture
With all of those new launches and offerings, the Dcode team had to grow. In fact, we never stopped hiring, even as we all worked from home. 2020 brought us 13 new Dcoders, and we’re looking forward to even more new faces joining the team in 2021.
Luckily, the Dcode team didn’t lose its vibrancy without an office. Virtual events proved to be every bit as fun and exciting as in-person events, with team scavenger hunts, trivia, and pointless PowerPoints keeping the team close-knit.
This year was a weird one. From turning a tiny apartment into a home-office (yes, we’ve taken conference calls from places like closets, pantries, parked cars, and even a bathtub), to launching new products and platforms, we learned a lot about working together while working remote.