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Eric Swartz

On Monday night, 1776's 75-city Challenge Cup competition launched with 19 startups pitching their businesses in Washington. Mobile Passport, which helps authenticate government-issued IDs, was the winner of this round, meaning the company heads to the finals in New York this fall.

Here are three other startups that I found intriguing from the two-minute pitches:

  • Entrada provides a platform for employers to help low-income immigrants learn English as they work. It's aimed at the hospitality an service industry where it's in the interests of both the employer and employee to master the language while on the job (think of a housekeeper listening to an English lesson while making a hotel bed.)
  • MemoryWell hires journalists to write short life stories of patients with Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, so caretakers can better engage with them in nursing home settings.
  • Shop Or Not is a text message shopping platform that texts you one item a week that the company thinks you might be interested in, and you reply "yes" to purchase. It's had success with brands that are local favorites in small towns that don't have national distribution.

What they have in common: These ideas aren't using cutting edge technologies — in fact they are decidedly low-tech. But they're creative ideas for filling a specific gap in the market and are finding success by catering to specific communities.

Go deeper

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

The walls close in on Trump

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.