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Innovation & Job News

Fortify founders close accelerator to focus on web series, new ventures

The Fort, one of the first startup accelerators in the D.C. area, may be closing its physical doors, but according to Jonathon Perrelli, managing director of Fortify Ventures, it will live on in a blog and in spirit at 1776.
"There's a confusion that The Fort and Fortify Ventures are synonymous," Perrelli explains. They aren't. "We believe in accelerators," he says, "and we want to support early-stage companies." He and the team just don't want to run an accelerator anymore.
"The Fort lives on at 1776," in spirit if not in name, Perrelli says. "It is the next incarnation. We have supported it all year. I just held office hours there this morning."
He and general partner Simon Rakoff will continue to invest in and support early-stage companies through their venture fund, Fortify Ventures. Entrepreneur-in-residence Carla Valdes, whom Perrelli credits with operating The Fort and running Distilled Intelligence, is "starting her own thing. She's always wanted to start her own company." He won't say more than that at this point.
So, what will Perrelli do now that the physical Fort is shutting down? For one, he is planning to devote more time to Startupland, a documentary series that examines the journeys of five of The Fort's startups. "People need to understand what goes on with early-stage companies," he explains. "I've chosen to help execute the project. There are so many aspects about the filmmaking business that I want to learn."
Perrelli believes that, as a how-to series, Startupland can have a broad influence on entrepreneurs and accelerator hubs around the globe. "[We capture] the experience of what it means to be a founder," he explains. The series features interviews with seasoned founders, entrepreneurs and investors, "all these people who have done incredible things."
Distilled Intelligence, the pitch competition that The Fort ran, isn't necessarily going away. "We own the DI brand," Perrelli says. "We will do pitch events again. We did DI really well. We did The Fort really well. I'm excited to continue with [Startupland] and to continue with Fortify."
"Simon and I are laying the groundwork for a new fund," he continues. "Fortify Ventures has a multi-decade, 20 to 30 year vision. We will continue to support tech startups."
"[Closing The Fort] has been planned for a while now. I'm not sorry. I feel great."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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