Flickr user Curtis & Renee/ Illustration by Hannah Goldberg

The Startup Shake Up

Tech firms are adopting a new language to win a shot at innovation contracts.

Sharath Mekala’s two-person tech startup isn’t a textbook government contractor. 

Village Defense, spawned through a startup incubator called 1776, develops a free app that lets neighbors send real-time alerts to one another if they notice suspicious activity. A premium version, which costs $125 a month, is designed for homeowners associations. 

A Washington area native, Mekala recently uprooted from Atlanta and returned to D.C., in part to market Village Defense to behemoth potential customers: the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Education Department. He says President Obama’s public safety initiative, which includes a blueprint for improved community policing, creates an opportunity for apps like Village Defense. 

“I think the government is trying to keep up with [technology]... earlier on you’d have to push your way in,” Mekala says. 

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