The Scene: Week of Sept. 8

September 7, 2014
The Washington Post

Halcyon House: All these entrepreneurs need is a reality show.

Seven entrepreneurs are cohabiting in one of Washington’s most expensive mansions as part of the S&R Foundation’s 14-month experiment.

Last week, the Halcyon House, a historical Georgetown home built in 1787, officially opened its doors for a residential program intended to help entrepreneurs grow their social ventures.

During a media showcase on Thursday, Halcyon Incubator’s advisers delivered a keynote panel, including Kah­lil Byrd, chief investment officer for grantmaking organization Fund for the Republic; Michael McDevitt, co-founder and chief executive for Tandem Legal Group; and Sonal Shah, executive director for the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation at Georgetown

The seven entrepreneurs from six ventures also pitched their projects to the audience. Olivier Kamanda, founder of Ideal Impact, discussed his Web application that connects people with social impact opportunities they are likely to be interested in, based on the news they read. Diana Sierra, co-founder and chief executive of BeGirl, said she is working on a project to supply women in developing countries with sanitary feminine products.

The others include:

Matt Fischer, with Control A+, a software warning system for children with asthma, to alert parents and doctors before an attack occurs, using data.

Dan Gallagher and Ben Reich, with Datasembly, a software system aggregating open data sets.

Ari Raz, with PureJoy, producing organic baby food.

Heather Sewell, with Newsease, a news template/publishing platform to help teachers start newspapers in the classroom.

The program, which requires fellows to live in the house and attend periodic educational sessions, is intended to “remove the obstacles of living — so [success] is truly based on talent, potential and the audaciousness of their idea,” S&R Foundation Chief Operating Officer Kate Goodall said. The foundation does not take an equity stake in ventures, she added.

The goal isn’t to profit from these ventures, Project Manager Ryan Ross said. Instead, it is to “see Washington D.C. as a hub for social ventures.”