Announcing The Judges Of TechCrunch’s Washington DC Pitch-Off

Our DC Meetup is going to be a “Who’s Who” of tech celebrities.

In a few short days, TechCrunchers from across the country will pack their bags, hop on a plane or a train, and venture to the nation’s capitol. That’s right, ya’ll — the TechCrunch DC Meetup + Pitch-off is happening, on Tuesday, whether you like it or not.

And this time, we’ve wrangled up some impressive judges and guest speakers to join the party. Tickets are still available for $5, and will be available for $10 starting Monday.

During our pitch-off competition, where local startups will be given one minute to impress and delight judges, we’ll be joined by four of the most brilliant minds in D.C. venture capital, as well as members of the TechCrunch staff.

Plus, SmartThings CTO Jeff Hagins will hop up on stage for a brief interview to discuss building a hardware company based in D.C., competition in the home automation/IoT market, and where we’ll go from here.

SmartThings has raised a total of $15.5 million to make your home smarter, getting plenty of media traction and attention at CES this year. We’re more than thrilled to have Jeff attend our party and chat with us for a bit.

So who are these mystery VCs, ready to dole out judgement, praise and advice?

Take a look:

Mark Levine – Core Capital

levineMark Levine is a Managing Director at Core Capital Partners in Washington, DC. Core was formed in 1999 and is an early stage technology venture capital fund with $350 million under management.

Core has invested in 52 companies doing business in data analytics, cyber security, enterprise data mobility and cloud computing infrastructure markets.

Mark Levine’s career in venture capital began in 1997 when he founded GCI Venture Partners, an early stage technology fund that was a first intuitional investor in webMethods, one of the most successful software IPOs in NASDAQ history.

John Backus – New Atlantic Ventures


John Backus is a co-founder and Managing Director of New Atlantic Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm investing in cybersecurity, ecommerce, mobile, higher education, digital media and the business of healthcare. Based in the national capital region, John is a seasoned technology investor and entrepreneur with over two decades of experience investing in and managing rapidly growing companies. Before becoming a venture capitalist, he co-founded US Order, which revolutionized online banking, went public in 1995 and was sold to Visa. John serves on the Board of Directors of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), the Center for Public Policy Innovation (CPPI), Invincea, Spotflux, AppTap and PokitDok.

Additionally, he is Chairman Emeritus of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) Board of Directors, the founding Chairman of the NVTC TechPAC, and Chairman Emeritus of the Wolf Trap Foundation Board of Directors. He has served as a technology policy adviser to Virginia governors Gilmore, Warner and McDonnell and has contributed his views to The Washington Post, Fortune, VentureBeat and the Huffington Post. John began his career at Bain & Co. and Bain Capital, where he was the first management consultant to take a full time operating role in a portfolio company. John holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Standard University Graduate School of Business.

Dayna Grayson – New Enterprise Associates

Dayna Grayson, NEADayna joined NEA in 2012 and focuses on investments in business-to-business companies including SaaS (software-as-a-service), digital media, financial technology and business services. She also invests in consumer internet companies particularly at the seed stage with NEA’s seed investment program. She is a Director of OnShape Technologies and SocialRadar. Dayna founded the NEA Studio in 2013 where entrepreneurs with non traditional backgrounds, such as design, work in residence with NEA. She actively advises startups pre-funding and has served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School.

Prior to joining NEA, Dayna was an investor at North Bridge Venture Partners in Boston where she focused on seed and early stage digital media, consumer internet, and SaaS investments. She was involved with companies including Camiant (acquired by Tekelec), Tapjoy, and Viximo (acquired by Tapjoy), where she was interim CEO in 2009.

David Hall – Revolution

David Hall HeadshotDavid Hall is a Director at Revolution Ventures and is responsible for investment sourcing, execution, and oversight, for Revolution Venture’s portfolio companies. The companies with which David has worked closely include Revolution Money, GramercyOne, Vinfolio, Koofers, SnagFilms, Personal, as well as Revolution Ventures’ recent investments in BenchPrep and HomeSnap.

Prior to Revolution, David was with The Washington Post Company as Director of Planning and Development. He has also held positions as manager of Business Development for Akamai Technologies, Inc. and senior financial analyst for Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc.

David received a B.A. in Economics from Morehouse College and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

You can purchase tickets to the DC meetup here and the NY meetup here.

If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please email